The Ease of Welcome

Ease of welcome

The Desert Fathers and Saint Benedict in particular held the idea that everyone should be honored and welcomed, not merely as an honored guest, but as a revelation of the Sacred. This means the poor, the traveler, those of different religions, social class, or education, offer an opportunity and a place to encounter God.


Imagine then if we held that kind of respect and hospitality for others, because we had learned to hold the same kind of hospitality for ourselves. Yet, most of us struggle with emotion. We live in a world that has taught us to suppress them and offers multiple of options for doing so when they pop up.


As I struggled and processed through a rough week of what have inwardly and outwardly often been categorized as unwelcomed emotions, I practiced the posture of welcoming all parts of myself, especially those places that have previously been rejected, labeled or ignored by others or myself.


The thing about emotion is that it causes the worst kind of vulnerability, emotional risk and exposure. Suddenly all the bobbers that had been tied down start popping up to the surface and most of us scramble to dessert until “normal” returns, yet popping emotion is actually normal!


Personally, I have never liked the randomness of excessive emotionalism, because I’ve been told my whole life by southern and religious culture to contain it! But when we stow and reject what we are feeling we cut off parts of ourselves and become people who don’t know what we are feeling. I’m learning to welcome these parts of myself instead of orphaning and resisting them.


You see acceptance gives me a choice of how I want to experience my emotion instead of reacting to it, which means I am being controlled by it. Instead of maintaining the stance of I’ll wait until the noise passes by, I am unfolding my hands from my lap of suppression, opening the door and dancing with my surprise guests, listening for the wisdom of what they have to tell me, instead of dubbing normal emotions as dirty little secrets.


What would happen if we were the friend that could sit with us in our despair or confusion, that didn’t try to quickly move us toward happiness, or oblivion do to our own discomfort? What if we were that person with sweet hospitality that could hold the line for ourselves and for others when the bobbers were popping?


By making space for those who might feel invisible and forgotten in their pain, we are saying that emotions like grief, anger, fear, are normal and not dirty little secrets that we have to stow away to make others or ourselves comfortable.


In this version of the poem, THE GUEST HOUSE, poet Rumi writes beautifully about this kind of inner hospitality.


The Guest House

Darling, the body is like a guesthouse. Every morning someone new arrives. Don’t say “oh, another weight around my neck”, or your guest will fly back to nothingness.


Whatever enters your heart is a guest from the invisible world. Entertain it well. Everyday and every moment a thought comes like an honored guest into your heart.


My soul, regard each thought as a person. For every person’s true value is in the quality of the thought they hold.


If a sorrowful thought stands in the way, it is also preparing the way for joy. It furiously sweeps your house clean in order that some new joy may appear from the Source. It scatters the withered leaves from the bow of the heart in order that fresh green leaves might grow. It uproots the old joy so that a new joy may enter from beyond.


Sorrow pulls up the rotten root that was hidden from sight.






Are You Doing Church?


It definitely felt like an over share. You know those times you feel exposed, raw and regret what you said and wish you could take it back? Brene Brown calls it a “vulnerability hangover!”

I think my over share was a part of me that I had tried to ignore  that was screaming to be heard, so I wouldn’t squeeze myself in one more time “to play nice and make friends.” 

So I blurted out that going to church made me feel like a prostitute. There was a trade off for a service, show up, act appropriately and receive the non-relational pat on the head and group acceptance for performing adequately.

I further explained about the deep pain I felt when I opened myself up intimately and deeply during worship to have no contact with others, or real connection. Then I'd have to pick myself up, clean myself off and go home with the lingering affects that remained throughout the week until I did it again the following Sunday. 

Once I mentioned this concern about lack of relationship in church to a woman whose response was, "I've learned to accept it and move on years ago." I thought to myself, "Why do I have to accept this? I can't accept it. Its killing me!"

I feel life deeply. I see life in pictures and allegories, so often something as simple as a tragic movie plot can take me weeks to rebound from. I am empathic. I've always been this way though I’ve tried to bury, shelve and disassociate with this part of myself. The truth is this tendency is tender, beautiful and perceptive. Why would I reject this to merely fit in?

Although this intense sensory knack has existed from childhood, it wasn't until my early twenties that I first became aware of it. My husband Bill and I stopped to pick up a friend of Bill’s I’d I never met.  As soon as he got in the car my heart started breaking. I’d never felt such deep and sudden pain. I knew it wasn’t my pain, so I blurted out, “My heart is breaking and I don’t know why!" The passenger immediately yelled out, “It’s me! It’s me! I just bought a pound of pot and I shouldn’t have! You’re heart is breaking because of me!”

I've often wished that I came with an operating manual, but that would eliminate the very thing I am set up for: RELATIONSHIP! You and I are made for relationship, relationship with God and each other. Its a life long journey of learning how to understand our inner world and relationships beyond textbook theology and "how to's."

So when I over shared it was as if my insides where screaming, “Listen to me! It’s killing me to be in another setting where the focus is about  an agenda and not relationship, about doing and not being. You are spreading your legs one more time for a payoff, to be loved and liked. You shouldn’t have to work to be loved!”

It hit me square in the face. I was a working girl and my own John at the same time! I continued to send myself out looking for love, pulling up my skirt and coming home alone.

Sad. Humiliating. Embarrassing. Nevertheless, what happened was this:

  • I began to own it and I began to get free.
  • I began to stop working and started loving myself whole.
  • I began to stop busying myself to avoid feeling (like so many do.)
  • I began to comprehend that there was no separation from the love of God, period!
  • I began to let go of space holders, not chasing after anyone's love, but leaving space for the real thing.
  • I began to value myself even if others couldn’t.
  • I began to set boundaries and not let others trudge through my heart.
  • I began to have relationships where I didn't have to perform and I wasn't harmed.
  • I began to define church differently: relationally; a meal; lives shared; conversation and trust.
  • I began to comprehend being the church and not doing the church!

Are you giving yourself permission to love yourself and be well-loved in return?

If this resonated with you and you'd like help creating a healthier life, contact me for a complementary coaching session via teleconferencing to discover what coaching could do for you. Only those seriously interested in coaching apply. Email me at: