The Hospitality of Being a "Guest House"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 4:35am
The Hospitality of Being a "Guest House"

Parker Palmer offers a light-hearted vignette on the unexpected visitor and welcoming her in — all by way of a metaphor by Rumi.

Commentary by:
Parker J. Palmer (@parkerjpalmer),  special contributor
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Credit: Marco Secchi License: Getty Images.

Rumi's mystical poetry often helps me regain perspective on life. In this poem, I love his notion that being human is like being a "guest house." Unexpected visitors occasionally show up and stay for a while, including some you'd really like to throw out!

Welcoming them and learning what they may have to teach you, or where they may lead you, isn't always easy. But in my experience, it always pays off — if for no other reason than it hastens the day of their departure!

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.

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13Reflections

I am a therapeutic storyteller and I really enjoyed the Rumi poem. I continue to be amazed at the power of words. May those who need this poem the most embrace it. Thank you.

I love Story Corps when I hear the snippets on the radio. I am so relieved to know the actual interviews are 40 minutes long I thought I was hearing the entire thing. One little question and answer. It seemed so futile to waste the love I was hearing between persons. This was a great interview with David Isay.

Thank you for this, as a control freak, it's good to be reminded that it all belongs, not just the parts I deem "happy"..

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