Coming to Rest

‘Acceptance’, it turns out, is a trigger word for me, bringing with it some strong emotions, which have made writing this blog difficult, despite several attempts to do so.

Mostly, it has brought into sharp focus, remnants of non-acceptance and feelings of grief, through remembrances of the breakup of my parent’s marriage, some sixty years ago, and also the feelings of loss that I feel for my own marriage, not through abandonment, but through the illness and decline of a spouse.

All attempts to push myself, to get the writing done, have ended in a feeling of utter misery. So, I stopped. Instead, I have brought you four things, which I have stumbled across during this time and which have helped me to accept my present state.

The first is the photograph of a tree stump that I observed over several seasons. I photographed it in various stages of erosion. but can now only find the above picture, which was probably the second one that I took. Over a period of years, the stump broke down and eventually became just a scrap of wood, upended and black from dampness. Yet, at each stage of decay, it had a beauty about it that the camera did not do justice to. I found this demonstration of dignity, in decline, quite wonderful.

The second, is “The Guest House” poem, by Rumi, which I was recently reminded of and thought appropriate, here. Rumi describes painful thoughts and feelings as the arrival of guests, to be greeted hospitably.

The Guest House

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’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
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 whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


The third is a quotation by the writer, Anne Lamott, which echoes Rumi’s sentiments of welcoming all states of being, equally. In it, she accepts her own non-productiveness, as a writer, seeing it as an opportunity for renewal.

“The problem is acceptance, which is something we’re taught not to do. We’re taught to improve uncomfortable situations, to change things, alleviate unpleasant feelings. But if you accept the reality that you have been given- that you are not in a productive creative period- you free yourself to begin filling up again.” Anne Lamott

Finally, I share with you this YouTube video of the Great Bell Chant, featuring the late Thich Nath Hanh, for the reason that it had the effect of making me feel like a leaf, coming to rest, after a great storm.


Read by Thich Nath Hanh, chanted by brother Phap Niem. The creators of this audio track were Gary Malkin, the composer/arranger, producer, and collaborator Michael Stillwater. The work came from a CD/book called Graceful Passages: A Companion for Living and Dying, and it could be purchased by going to The creator of this video is R Smittenaar. This video can be downloaded at: Visuals taken from HOME, Earth and Baraka

3 Replies to “Coming to Rest”

  1. I find these quote really inspiring Karen. What seems to be the common thread is that they are pointing to the act of facing the experience at hand, without turning away, without judging. Sounds simply enough, not as simply to do unfortunately.
  2. An inspiring article Karen, the quotes blend so beautifully with your honest heartfelt words. Rumi’s poem The Guest House so apt. Thank you.

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