Have you ever noticed how sunsets can be a bit lackluster when there aren't any clouds? I thought about this last night while watching the sun set in a cloudless sky. Meditation teachers have often compared awareness to the sky and our emotional states to clouds drifting through the sky. I'm a slow learner, but I am finally beginning to understand from experience that clouds, especially those stormy tuffs of cumulonimbus clouds, can actually cause us to sink our roots deeper and grow stronger.
Last week, I completed a course requirement for Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach's Meditation Teacher Training program, which I will begin in the spring of 2017. In one of the videos, Tara said, "What we think of as in the way is actually the way." In other words, if we slightly adjust our perceptions, then what we think is hindering us may actually be guiding us to unforeseen growth. I'm not saying these experiences are pleasant. Far from it! Yet, I have found there's a relationship that exists between these obstacles and my growth. What we try to kick to the curb or leap over may actually serve us if we let it. There have been numerous occasions where I thought had that not happened then this may not have happened either. I try to remind myself of this when I am frazzled that life isn't going according to my plans, which is to say I remind myself of this on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis. I find Rumi's poem "The Guest House" to be of comfort during times when I am unable to comfort to myself.
The Guest House by Rumi (Translated by Coleman Barks)
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are 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 at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Just as a sunset isn't as spectacular without the clouds, I don't think we would be pushed to live as fully if it wasn't for the intermittent presence of clouds in our lives. I end now with a bit of jest... I'd like to suggest two songs which pair nicely with this post - "Defying Gravity" from Wicked and Kelly Clarkson's song "Stronger."
(NOTE: It was Frederich Nietzsche who first said, "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.")