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The Guest House

Several years ago during a difficult time, I read this poem and it spoke to what I was going through. From time to time, I recall the poem and how it helped me meet life differently. I compartmentalized life, including my emotions, in unhealthy ways. Emotions and accompanying experiences are guests coming and going and not staying for life.

I treated life as different buckets containing each part as if I could easily separate them. Rumi reminded me life is holistic and involves life flowing with no clear boundaries between parts. It is all oneness.

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.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

16 responses »

  1. MicheleMariePoetry

    VERY interesting poem!

  2. I really like this poem, Ivon. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hello Ivon. Interesting poem. On the first read I thought it sounded pretty cool but then as I read it again I wondered about it some more (the beauty of poetry). The more I read it the more I want to rebel against it because to me it reads as if we are here only to experience and deal with the experience. I’d like to think that we also have control of that experience and that’s not what I get from the poem the more I read it.

    • I think you have pointed out something critical here. We control our thoughts about the world. Most of the way we feel is transient and moves on. Poetry, as you say, leaves considerable room for interpretation and re-interpretation. I am reading John Dewey’s Art as Experience right now and he spoke about this constant rethinking of the world, almost as a hermeneutic experience.

  4. Reblogged this on Writing Out Loud and commented:
    Ivon reminds me of how much Rumi has to offer in verse. Always much to ponder.

  5. One of my favorites Ivon. Thank you for sharing and your perspective. Go with the flow and welcome whatever comes up … its life!

  6. These words are so honest, introspective, beautifully written, and universally true.

  7. I really enjoyed this poem. Have a great weekend. 🙂

  8. Wonderful poem, extremely thought provoking! I shall remember that when I’m next feeling moody! 😉


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