As years go by I realize more and more that our time on earth is a temporary visit. We are invited to be guests on this wonderful planet for a very short time.
It’s an early summer morning. I am driving back home from taking my son to a meeting point after a short visit with us. My gaze glides over the fields and the small valley, the bushes and the edges of forests, and the pastures with young horses. The day is still young and I am about to return to ordinary, everyday tasks after a couple of eventful days.
And there it is: a sudden ray of light. And with it I feel so intensely the brevity of this visit on earth, the unique quality of that moment, when we are here; one lifetime, a particular event embedded in something so much greater and vaster.
I don’t feel it as a concept, like written in books and aphorisms, I rather have that intense feeling and awareness, very tangible and almost physical, of a soul being here for a short visit – marvelling at this wonderful planet, mixing and mingling with it through the many events of life, painful and joyful alike. And I know: the moment I feel this, it has already happened. As if I turn at a door, and already leaving, see with a brief look whom I have been visiting, and that it is over so soon.
Life – what a great invitation. And how rarely is it that we can see this! After we have been invited and, with so much help and grace, have managed to make the journey into this world, entering the place that welcomes us, at first we are all filled with a natural sense of awe. Every child’s eyes are filled with wonder, and it only ceases to wonder, when there is no response and no acknowledgement of this natural, deep sense of respect, and the curiosity and joy about this wonderful place that welcomes us. Only later do we forget.
Guests bring gifts. And we all were endowed with gifts to bring to this invitation. But at some point we begin to forget about them. We are too occupied with ourselves. We take things for granted. We suffer, and then we complain. We forget what we were given; talents and qualities handed over to us like little parcels when we embarked on this journey. Because now we have other things to do, to develop a person that exists on earth – and sometimes we tend to take this too seriously – and we think we have to create a life. Overlooking that life is just there, and we are just part of it.
Guests take off their shoes at the door, as a matter of respect. And often we forget about this too. At some point we, as guests on this earth, arduously need to learn again to take off our shoes. This was not necessary when we first came, barefoot and innocent, but over time, when we acquire those shoes that support our walk through life, we easily forget to respect the host and the place that invited us. It then seems a life-long lesson to take off our shoes, while being here for our brief visit on Earth.
„I was a hidden treasure and I longed to be known. Thus I created the world“.
We are invited, we are fed, we meet other guests, we come to know each other, we live together, we love each other and get angry about each other, we work and sow and reap, we sing together, pray together, laugh and cry together, we suffer and we have tremendous joy. That’s how it seems to be meant to be, so that the hidden treasure can be revealed to Itself and in the world. We are but a part of this mysteriously evolving process called life, and our particular visit is carefully designed for this.
But how do we respond to this invitation? How do we treat the hospitality of the earth these days? Can you imagine a guest who is cordially invited and then destroys the home of his host, steps in with heavy boots, demolishes the furniture, is ignorant of the needs of the other guests – all the creatures that are living together?
It is easy to point the finger to the really insolent human fellow guests, those who are destroying and exploiting our planet in large measure, but how many times did we forget? How many times did we sleep? How often were we ignorant, unconscious about the invitation, caught and lost in our own thoughts, concepts and emotions, occupied by our personal reactions on what was happening „to me“, not realizing that it was just part of the celebration, part of the revelation of the hidden treasure, and that there is no such thing as a separate experience, a separate existence!
Only if we are conscious of this tremendously generous invitation, a visit that lasts for only a moment, and of being alive with a beautiful and wondrous physical body made of earth and stardust, that can feel joy and pain and love, that can taste and touch, bring souls together, gives birth and cares and is being cared for, that is indeed a wonderful temple and organ of experience, like the Earth herself, only then do we participate in service and love for the One who so much longs to be revealed.
It is not about what we do as great deeds, it is not about footprints we leave after our visit – at best we don’t leave any, because hopefully we remembered to take off our shoes; hopefully we danced, at least sometimes, with light feet.
It is rather about being awake and realizing where we actually are. We are visiting. We are invited. We are welcomed. And following that we respect the place that we are allowed to visit: this beautiful garden Earth. We share — not because anything belongs to us, but because we are a part of the one divine experience in multiple forms. There is no property to be divided, because we do not own anything. There is a divine reality to be experienced and to be mirrored to each other. And we share our gifts, which were given to us when we were sent on this journey —by being ourselves. We realize, it is about a great experience, but it is not about us. And we realize that every single gift that is being given to a soul coming into this world has the potential to contribute to an ever evolving, unfolding beauty and love of the Divine.
Like any guest who is invited to a party, a celebration, or just a meal with friends, we can decide: which attitude do we come with for our visit, and what is the attitude we will say good-bye with.
There is still hope that this beautiful garden that has been treated so rudely by its human guests can rejoice again, can sing again the song of its soul. Every single guest who wakes up and takes off their shoes will breathe fresh air into this almost suffocated world that longs so much to be recognized as a divine living being.