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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

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

16 responses »

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

  2. 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.

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

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

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

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

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


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