It is hard to linger in suffering. This is Holy Week in the Christian church. We like to go from the parades of Palm Sunday to the resurrection celebration of Easter and skirt by the agony and suffering of the Garden of Gethsemane and the journey to the crucifixion.
In our American culture, we have the reputation of seeking to medicate away our pain. Have a problem, take a pill. We don’t like to dwell in sadness and grief. We don’t tolerate pain well.
Then this writing from Rumi:
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes from an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them in the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
I have always been a serious person…even as a child, and a little prone to melancholy. I have always seen that as something to overcome. I have longed to have a more light hearted spirit, to be a more joyful person. I have lots of reminders in my life to choose joy, to laugh…trying to counteract my basic nature. But this writing from Rumi gives me pause. Perhaps the melancholy is gift and it teaches me something as well as creates a more empathetic spirit in me.
I would never advocate suffering for the sake of suffering. And clinical depression does require medication. But sometimes, we are just plain sad, and life is bringing us pain. And perhaps the way through, is really to go through it. To feel it, to see what it is teaching us, and instead of trying to fix it, to see it as God is working in and through it….and indeed clearing us out for some new delight.
So this is Holy Week. Let’s not rush through it. Can there really be resurrection if there is not death? And does embracing death, gives us a new perspective and attitude about life?