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 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 whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
--The Essential Rumi, Barks, 1995
That poem is so packed, I couldn't just quote a few lines and leave the rest out. I was thinking about what it means to be out, and when I looked over my collected quotes from the past few years, this one spoke to me.
So many people live with secrets. Even without secrets, we have "unexpected visitors," things that we keep from our own consciousness, things that we fear will upset the balance of our lives. When we let our secrets loose, we must be willing to welcome the dark shame, the malices. Some of us never get to that point. Understandably so, as for some it can be a matter of life or death.
Years ago, more than a decade, I experienced my first small slice of a gay pride parade. I had only recently said to myself and my first husband, "I think I could be bisexual." I'd always accepted the idea intellectually, but this was a voice from the heart. My gay co-worker friend invited me to see a bit of the parade on our lunch hour...it passed by only a few blocks away. His partner at the time met us. He said, "Happy gay pride day, Heidi." Our eyes met and I felt a welcome unfolding of recognition. I was happy, and I was queer, and happy to be recognized as queer.
In the years since I haven't been able to attend a parade for various reasons. Work. Too busy. Lazy. One time I remember missing the parade, but catching the fair afterward, visiting booths and seeing women walking about bare-breasted. This year I had a friend in the parade, and I decided to make an effort to join his family in the watching. I found myself extra busy snapping pictures, trying to capture every group. I didn't realize there were so many politicians who wanted in (Portland is a very progressive city), and I didn't realize how many churches were in there showing their support. I felt embarrassed that I haven't got the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in the parade. Next year, a must. My friend asked me at the end, "Did you get a lot of boobie pictures for me?" I don't think I saw one bare breast. The weather was just too nippy for bared nipples I guess. (Oh he's queer, don't doubt it.) It was rather a family friendly event.
When I look at these faces, people happy, celebrating, I can't help but think that each and every one has dealt with his or her shame and malice, and reconciled that they must "meet them at the door laughing."
The parade started with dykes on bikes:
and ended with the boys. (I'm still waiting on that photo...shared a memory card with my friend.)
Here's some looking at me, looking at them:
Gotta love the drag queens:
and the Bears:
and the cult movie enthusiasts. ...quick what movie, before you look at the rest of the photos?
Too fast for me to catch:
Especially eye-catching were the dancing fairies:
here. (A few more to come soon.)