Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Gift of the Uninvited Guest

I wrote this in support of our unit on loss for the Spiritual Mentoring Certificate Course.

The Gift of the Uninvited Guest

We all wish we didn’t have them.  Those uninvited guests – times we don’t see coming that turn our world inside out – times of loss and the often deep grief that accompanies them.  They can show up abruptly with no explanation.  Worse yet, they can make themselves quite at home settling in with fear, suffering and chaos in tow.  Our minds race frantically to understand, to restore order, to reclaim our vanishing sense of normalcy.  But peace too often remains a memory.

The uninvited guest has many disguises.  Sometimes it arrives as a natural disaster we witness in the lives of those around us.  It is hard to look, to let in, when there is so much unmasked suffering.  Yet, as we do, we may begin to sense the unexpected gift this unwanted guest of ours brings.  I notice that as I look squarely into the face of suffering that, somehow, it is that very suffering that stirs a kind of quake within me, opening me to places of feeling often kept hidden deep.  Suddenly, it doesn’t matter who they are, what nationality, what they believe.  Seeing, feeling their deep suffering stirs in me a compassion I can’t ignore.  And, allowing in the chaos, I am surprised at the feeling of unity I suddenly feel with a stranger.

Sometimes our uninvited guest is closer to home.  The unexpected change, accident, diagnosis, in our life or in the life of someone we love.  I had such a guest last November in the story I shared in The Mother Teresa Rosary: Next Chapter.

Yet, even as we are being broken open, there appears right there, the most unexpected gift brought by this uninvited guest – a gift, in fact, only this guest can bring.  It is the gift of remembrance that we are indeed mortal – that all we know and we love is finite – literally here today and gone tomorrow.  And, this is the most precious gift of all as it causes us, unhinged, to reach for something beyond our normal grasp, something beyond what we know or understand, something eternal and infinite.  It causes us to search for God.

Still, it is inescapable that this most precious gift can only be brought by the uninvited guest.  For it is only through darkness that we experience light.  Only through suffering that we can know joy.  Only through death that we know living.  It is why the poet Hahlil Gibran reminds us that should we seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure we will find our self in a …seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all your laughter, and weep, but not all your tears.  It’s why Rumi in his famous poem The Guest House tells us to welcome all of our emotional visitors – even if they are a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each quest honorably.  He may be clearing you out for some new delight. 

So, as we graciously receive each uninvited guest into our being, let’s allow love to have its way with us.  To use suffering as an opportunity to feel a little more deeply – compassion for both our self and others.  To use tragedy as an opportunity to grow much like the lotus flower using the muck under the water to blossoms because of not in spite of. To use so-called death as an opportunity to surrender all we hold dear only to find ourselves held by the Beloved.

Let’s receive with open arms the uninvited guest, the messenger.

For hidden there is a gift from God.

Rev. Stephanie Rutt


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Let’s Dare to Leave Our Own Legacy of Truth!

“I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute.
Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow,
but to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in “Rediscovering Lost Values” Feb. 28, 1954

On Monday we will honor the memory and the message of one of the great spiritual leaders of our time – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet, I believe as Rev. Barry Vaughn wrote in 2005, “Ever a Baptist preacher, King would invite us to turn our attention away from the messenger and to the message and to invite the God whom Dr. King served to work as redemptively and powerfully in our own lives…”

I believe if he were with us today he would challenge each of us to live out our own legacy of truth to serve those around us in our own unique way. And, daring to leave our own legacy of truth is not so much about our feelings of readiness or worthiness as much as it is about our willingness to listen to the voice of God and rise up and follow in faith.

Rev. Mark Davidson wrote, “The clear truth that rang forth in Dr. King’s words didn’t come from his brilliant mind, his talent with language, or his powerful voice. The truth came from listening to the voice of God. If we too will listen, tell the truth we have heard, and follow where the Voice leads, we will, with God’s help, step out of the shadows of his greatness and create new sources of inspiration and hope ourselves.”

Sometimes we may feel that only special people do special things. Not true. I would offer that very ordinary folk do extraordinary things when they answer the call of God in their own lives. Oh, everyone’s legacy won’t make front page news. But every person’s legacy is needed to weave the tapestry of Divine love here on earth. We each have a part to play.

Or sometimes we may feel that we’re not perfect enough. Not true. There has been much written about the humanity of Dr. King. We’ve all heard of his imperfections. In his humanity, he was just like us and we like him.

And, the most beautiful thing of all is it really isn’t so much about what we are doing at all as much as it is how we are doing it. Dr. King reminds us, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

Hand me the broom, please!

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Amazing Grace

I once was lost but now I’m found…
Was blind but now I see.

(The following was sent out to the Tree of Life community December 20, 2011.)

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa…I wish you every Grace filled moment this season.

I am writing particularly full with love for you. Today, for the last time, I took fudge to my beloved friend Dick the barber. He is retiring at the end of this month. Many of you know how the Divine has played through our friendship over the years in the most miraculous of ways. For those of you not familiar, you can read the last chapter which occurred a year ago at this exact time in The Mother Teresa Rosary: The Next Chapter posted on this blog.

How very precious our time here is together. How blessed we are to get to be in a body so we can enjoy all the wondrous emotions of loving one another. We know all this will pass. We know our time is short. We know there are only so many opportunities to care for one another…to appreciate one another. Yet, it is often not until we must say good-bye that all we have received swells our heart with a gratitude that cannot be contained. This week I also said hello to a new grandbaby coming through a poem I wrote called Little Nugget I still cannot read without crying. How love does has its way with us.

So this season, I offer a prayer of thanksgiving for each of you, for each of the moments we will be together, and for all the endings and beginnings occurring each day…especially for the ones that stir us awake. Gratefully, they can make us come undone and so, if only temporarily, remember why we are here.

I am here to love you.

Blessed Holidays…

Rev. Stephanie

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