The Guest House
This being human is a guest house
Every morning is 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.
[source: The Mindful Way Workbork. I’m currently taking a mindfulness-based program and this poem was presented to us].
The faith expressed in this poem is so moving, so profound, so touching. Every experience, Rumi writes, is to be welcomed. Now lets be clear, Rumi is not saying we should seek out unpleasant experiences. But when they do happen they are to be seen as a “guide from beyond”.
Of course there is an inner response and an outer response. Some things happen that require an “outer response”: significant changes in behavior; changes in law; changes in society.
Rumi is saying there is also an inner response. Learning to (and how to) welcome the unpleasant “may be clearing you out for some new delight”.
In other words, Rumi is saying that these experiences clear the way for God (whatever that means. His phrasing is much better – “some new delight”.
To say this a different way, Rumi is saying “God cannot enter an occupied heart”. These guides Rumi speaks of cause a kind of death to our “egos”, our sense of self, and in that emptiness God can enter.