An Inconvenient Guest

I think it’s fair to say that we’ve been visited by an inconvenient guest.

And I imagine we can all relate to the experience.  The doorbell rings and a quick glimpse through the sheers reveals a pushy salesperson with a notebook or a difficult relative with a suitcase or an inebriated neighbor with a bottle.

Of course, the form doesn’t matter.

There are far too many people in our world symbolically hunkered down behind the family couch hurling hushed insults at each other about who’s to blame.  And there are still more sitting straight-backed on the family couch, tossing popcorn into each other’s mouths while pretending that the bell isn’t ringing.

And whether hunkered down or sitting motionless, pretty much all of them are engaged in expressing conflicting opinions about what to do next.

And yet I would like to suggest that the next best choice isn’t to blame, feign spontaneous deafness or argue, but to give this inconvenient guest something of an audience, that we might receive the gifts that even one so rude as this, certainly brings.

For example, in such moments of non-resistance, this inconvenient guest might invite you to slow down…finally.

This inconvenient guest might invite you to withdraw from the frenetic pace without and align with the soulful pace within – a fantasy, I will remind you, that you have entertained throughout the entirety of your working life.  This inconvenient guest would invite you to exit the race, to forgo the machine, to drop that piece of cosmic cheese, if even for a time.

This inconvenient guest might invite you to enjoy that cup of morning coffee, no longer because there’s some place you have to be, but at long last because there’s no place you have to be.  Perhaps even enjoy that cup of morning coffee with a neighbor.  It was understood that our first-generation Italian neighbor two doors down would simply arrive at the appointed hour, pour herself a cup and join my grandmother at the kitchen table.  To this day, I can hear that stretching spring on the old screen door.

This inconvenient guest might invite you to reconnect with others – actually sharing a meal with your family, actually having a conversation with your spouse, actually enjoying a call with your friend.

This inconvenient guest might invite you to revisit a lost art – to make some soap by hand write, to write a letter on paper; to make the paper!

This inconvenient guest might invite you to remember what it means to play.  To so lose yourself in something that time ceases to exist until at long last you imagine yourself jolted back to awareness by someone calling you for dinner.  This inconvenient guest would invite you to remember what it means to play, and then to sleep through the night like an exhausted 8-year-old.  Maybe for the first time since childhood.

This inconvenient guest might invite you to finally complete that energy-draining project that you “just never have been able to find time for.”  This inconvenient guest would have you clean that garage, finish those taxes, organize that room.  Perhaps this inconvenient guest would invite you to paint church baseboards, clean church doors, grout church tiles, paint church parking lots, staying connected with really awesome people as you do so.

This inconvenient guest might invite you to expand your concept of you – to learn that skill, sing that song, write that poem, paint that picture, start that book.  Is the next great American novel yours to write?  Maybe.  Could be.  This inconvenient guest might invite you to stretch your concept of you in ways for which your soul has longed.

This inconvenient guest might invite you to challenge your habitual self – to challenge the mindless daily grind of transportation, compensation, obligation, indigestion and regurgitation; wash, rinse, repeat.

This inconvenient guest might invite you to deepen your perspective within by developing a spiritual practice and expand your perspective without by reading a meaningful book.  Is it finally time to learn about the history of Nicaragua?  About the ways of the Aboriginal?

This inconvenient guest might invite you to remember how to “like” someone in person, how to “wave” at another in person, how to “laugh out loud” or even “roll on the floor laughing out loud” in person.  And if it’s the right time, this inconvenient guest would invite you to remember how to “unfollow someone” – but in person.

This inconvenient guest might invite you to taste Italian, to hear Bach, to touch sand, to smell saltwater, as if for the first time.

This inconvenient guest might invite you to consider your priorities.  How’s that financial vision of yours going?  How’s that body vision of yours going?  How’s that career of yours going?  How’s that relationship vision of yours going?  And if there’s some work to be done, perhaps this inconvenient guest might invite you to make a new commitment.

I believe this inconvenient guest might have you awaken a newfound compassion for the mother whose child suffers, for the child whose father suffers, for the father whose brother suffers across any seeming divide of ethnicity, society, geography, polity, demography.  Like all inconvenient guests, it might have you cast aside any and all that you’ve used to hold yourself apart.

This inconvenient guest might have you enliven newfound compassion by delivering groceries to that shut-in neighbor, by playing Uno with that widowed acquaintance; by remembering others in every moment that an otherwise fearful world might forget them.

And this inconvenient guest might have you demonstrate that newfound compassion even as others (especially as others) sell bottles of sanitizer and rolls of tissue for $100.00.

And if you’re like me, this inconvenient guest might invite you to acknowledge the fragility of a human incarnation, the delicacy of wearing these suits of skin, the impermanence of moving through space on the surface of a blue and green marbled garden.

And in so doing, this inconvenient guest might invite you to remember the profound honor of sharing whatever time we’ve been granted with those to our right and with those to our left wherever we are.

And perhaps this inconvenient guest, like all inconvenient guests, might invite all of us to consider how we might have neglected any responsibilities, how we might have ignored any realities, how we might have indulged any tendencies, even how we might have disrespected the natural order behind all things in such a manner that we now realize to be problematic.  And then to consider how we might choose again were we to do it all over.

Yes, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve been visited by an inconvenient guest.

We teach God in all and through all.  So, how do we reconcile such a teaching with the inconvenient guests of human life?

I think that’s a great question for each of us to ponder in upcoming days.  After all, I think any wisdom emerging from its asking will be far more compelling rising from you than falling from me.  Welcome to Unity, where some teacher doesn’t attempt to impose wisdom from without but to encourage wisdom from within.

We teach God in all and through all.  I will say that for me, such a concept doesn’t imply a life devoid of inconvenience.  For me, such a concept implies a life devoid of pointlessness.

For me, such a concept reminds me that there can be no evening devoid of a morning; that there can be no winter devoid of a spring; that there can be no crucifixion devoid of a resurrection.

So yes, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve been visited by an inconvenient guest.  And in the light of that, let us continue to walk into and through these next days of discovery with our well-practiced stride of gentleness, patience, flexibility and support - one for the other - giving rise to new brands of support and connection as intentional, spiritual community.