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The Guest House

Rumi wrote this beautiful poem 800 years ago. The message rings true today although we might resist it at times. Perhaps, in busyness and haste, we avoid the messages received in the guest house that our being and becoming entails. When we slow down encountering each guest as a transient event moving on, we learn lessons learned readily and easily.

In sabbath moments, whether a few minutes, hours, or days, we welcome these unexpected visitors. We recognize they will leave and, in treating them honourably, they may move along quickly allowing delight to return.

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.

26 responses »

  1. One of Rumi’s quote ” “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it

  2. This poem continues to speak to me from the heart. I believe I might commit it to memory and recite it, much as a prayer of sorts. Thank you for posting it, Ivon.

  3. I love this poem. Thank you.

  4. There’s a lesson to be learned in the good and bad…acceptance is key as it’ll keep us true to our path.

  5. Rumi’s words are timeless and always captivate. Thank you for sharing this poem. I needed a reminder!

  6. Thanks for posting one of my favorite Rumi poems. It has helped me any number of times when the “house” seemed overflowing with trouble. bring them in, serve them tea.

    • You are welcome David. Rumi’s wisdom is as relevant today as it was 800 years ago. The idea of serving tea is appealing. It is a time to be calm over the tea as once meditates.

  7. A great reminder for helping our attitude

  8. a good reminder to let it be. I have been fightin’ a lot of stuff inside…

  9. this is one of favorites Ivon … and I needed to connect with it today. Thank you!

  10. Certainly a wonderful piece of wisdom and poetry.

  11. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

    Rumi’s human soul was wise beyond description. I love the quote above: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

  12. This past week, I came to the conclusion (I am “only” 64–long in the tooth but getting to appreciate all of me) that I have to face and embrace the “shadow” side of me as well…so that I can grow from it…all the many steps of being! I love Rumi! You have a great site! Of course, I am biased, because you are a teacher…I taught for 36 years…it does not seem possible that it has come to an end…I also felt that the teacher should be “the guide on the side and not the sage on the stage”…as one of my Professors taught us. I taught Middle School the last seven of my years. I miss the students so much! But Facebook has helped me, as many of my former students have come to say HI to me on that social site. They are so sweet! Blessings on you, Ivon! and thank YOU for all of your visits to my blog!


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