As we begin the new year, we may resolve to do things differently and pursue lofty goals. Thirteenth-century Persian poet, Rumi suggests a different kind of change. He invites us to welcome the stranger in what he calls our guest house.
In Rumi’s world guest house means an understood expectation to extend hospitality to every traveler. All are welcome. No one is turned away. This idea of inviting in the stranger, the unknown, is pretty uncomfortable in these times. Fear, prejudice, and indifference often meet the stranger.
But while we might picture an inn or a guest bedroom, Rumi views the human body as the guest house. He takes us inward inviting those feelings we’d rather not recognize, acknowledging the sorrow, the meanness, along with the joy in our hearts. Welcome them all with laughter and awareness giving thanks for the insight they may bring. Happy New Year.
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.