On Giving Thanks for Being a Guest House

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, so I’m of a mind to be thinking about all of the people, opportunities and things for which I am grateful. It is a very long list. And as I think about this bounty, I find my Catholic roots tugging at my awareness – in the back of my mind is this little voice that says, “don’t let yourself get too happy, you know it can’t last, you know it won’t last.”  There was a time when I would have caved into that indictment and would have felt guilty for venturing out into the waters of happiness. These days I’m letting myself bask in the bounty and appreciating the moments while the sun shines. Sure clouds will come, but all the more reason to enjoy and appreciate the sun while is shines.

So, as I was thinking about all of this, I tumbled across Rumi’s poem, ‘the guest house’ … I hope you enjoy it as much as I do . . .

The Guest House

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.

— Jallaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

And, of course you MUST remember that this poem was written by Rumi, so the welcome he proffers is for all who come to our door, regardless of his or her race, religion, national origin, sex, gender, ability or any of that!  And, yes, Rumi was born and lived in 13th century Persia, the country we now call Iran. And yes he was a practicing Sufi which many people understand as a mystical branch of Islam. Ah, Rumi . . . you call us to honor the best that we are. Today I am thankful for you!

Rumi’s Seven Advices

One of my favorite poet/sages is the Sufi scholar I know as Rumi (1207-1273). His full name is Mevlânâ Celâleddin Mehed Rumi. Recently I came across a bit of writing by him knows as the ‘Seven Advices’ and I thought I would share it with you all here:

  1.  In generosity and helping others: be like the river
  2. In compassion and grace: be like the sun.
  3. In concealing others’ faults: be like the night.
  4. In anger and fury: be like the dead.
  5. In modesty and humility: be like the soil.
  6. In tolerance: be like the ocean.
  7. Either appear as you are, or: be as you appear.

Rumi wrote in the thirteenth century, and yet, these bits of advise are well taken today. Imagine a world where generosity and help flowed as freely and as powerfully as a river. Imagine a world where compassion and graciousness shone in all of our lives as brilliantly as the sun on a perfect summer day. Imagine a world where we were eager to hide others faults the way the darkness of a cloudy, starless night hides just about everything. Imagine a world where we put no energy or life into our anger or frustrations. Imagine a world where our modesty and humility were as rich and fertile as the soil of a river delta. Imagine a world where we were all as tolerant and accepting as the ocean is deep. Imagine a world were appearances were not deceiving, but what you saw was what you got, where authenticity reigned.


You may say I’m a dreamer.

But love and joy increase.

I hope someday you’ll join in,

and the world will be in peace.