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A Lesson In Acceptance: Learning To Be A Guest

Jennifer Mulholland
July 26, 2023

When there’s something that holds a special place in your heart – a person, a memory, a place – it can be hard to let go of the way things have always been or frustrating to see them stay the same.

For me, that place is our 110-year-old cabin on Rangeley Lake in Maine which we simply call, "camp." I am the fifth generation to enjoy it, and I have spent every summer there since I was born. It's where I learned to love nature, found my connection with animals, and fell in love with birdsong. It's also where I got married. Suffice it to say, I have a lot of attachment to this place.

Camp has been my "heaven on earth" – tranquil, peaceful, connective, and oh-so nourishing. At the same time, it's been a source of heated discussions, family contention, and intense discussions. The older I've gotten, the more attached I've become. Rightly so, I suppose. 

That attachment has created many moments of frustration, contraction, and annoyance regarding the improvements I want to make and the obstacles in the way to making that happen – obstacles like shared ownership, differing points of view of what should be done, varying financial means to do it, and balancing the pull of keeping things the way they've always been with wanting things to be different. The cyclical conversations have felt like a record skipping (dating myself here) on repeat year after year. It's gripped me with frustration. Can you relate?

This summer, something shifted. On my way to my three weeks in Maine, the idea of “being a guest” popped into my head. I’d call it an insight that emerged when I least expected it, calling forth a new level of growth and perspective inside myself. When I look around camp I say, “I am a guest here,” I release the need for things to be different than they are right now. I drop into a space of acceptance, and it helps me see the beauty and abundance of my surroundings in the moment.

Being a guest doesn't mean I don't care about camp; it just means that I recognize that I am not the owner of the land or the cabin. Rather, I am a steward of it. When I eventually pass, nothing of form will come with me. My soul, my light, and my essence will soar.

This shift in perspective has helped me let go of old stories, outdated ways of doing things, and scarcity thinking that has been an ancestral pass-down for many generations. It has helped me grow and identify what I want to carry forth and what I don't.

This is new to me. You see, I've always been wired to look for opportunities for growth and improvement since I was born. But being a change-maker doesn't always mean pushing for change (even though I’ve tried that approach for years). Sometimes it means appreciating what exists without things needing to change or improve, trusting they will change in their own time when ready.

When I give myself permission to visit as a guest, I am more present, accepting, and respectful, and I find I have more space for my psyche, personality, and ego to breathe.  I’m less reactive and triggered. I listen more. I notice more. And when I do, my body and mind soften and open with a subtle surrender that feels quite powerful. 

Being a guest calls me to practice trusting in the Divine timing of the unfolding. When I do, I am able to take my focus off future improvements and shift to the present moment with more appreciation which leads to a deeper enjoyment of my surroundings.

So, if you have a special place, person, or belief in your life that you are struggling with attachment to, remember that you are just a guest there. Recognize the beauty in the moment, and trust that change will come when the time is right. It's not always the easiest lesson to learn, but I think you will find, as I have this summer, that it can bring more peace and joy to your life.

I am a guest here.
I am not an owner of the land.
I am a steward of it.
When I pass,
Nothing of form will come with me.
My soul, my light, and my essence will soar.

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