The Guest House
— By Jelaluddin Rumi
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 are 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 whatever comes
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
The visitors have arrived. A gloomy chill settled in first, moving slowly and mimicking the weather, until it had crept into nearly every pore and crevice. A heavy blanket of unrecognizable agitation arrived next, enveloping me with its pessimism and frustration. Soon enough despondency was knocking at the door, shaking the snow from his boots, threatening to make himself at home and stay for awhile.
I narrowed my eyes, inspecting them all closely and skeptically, wondering why they were here and how long they would stay. Some of the visitors were vagrants, passing by for a brief and inadvertent respite.
Others, I realized after carefully scrutinizing their intentions, seemed to be deliberate guests. They accompanied illness, fear, and unmanaged stress; they arrived piggyback on the guests of others, who lacking adequate room had kicked them out to find new places to stay.
The inn is typically occupied with optimism, hope, and energy so the less-desirable visitors often see a lighted “No Vacancy” sign. But, occasionally, they sneak in at just the right moment, seizing an opportunity to claim a room.
No longer will the visitors be pushed out the door. They will be welcomed – after close inspection, of course – for, as Rumi prophesizes, they are sent as guides from beyond. And sometimes they come bearing gifts – valuable gifts like self-awareness, empathy, and humility.
These particular guests didn’t stay long; they rarely do. Like usual, they tidied up and left a clean, open space for the more desirable guests.
Happiness, serenity, and hopefulness: Come on in! The vacancy sign has been lit just for you.