The Guest House by Jalaluddin Rumi

My therapist introduced me to this poem. In my reading of it, it’s meant to be a reminder that we don’t get to control the feelings or thoughts that visit us, and so, the only appropriate response is to greet those who visit, invite them in, and be grateful for their presence.

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.

by Jalaluddin Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks