Wednesday, June 27, 2007


This is to me a rather jolting poem by Jelaluddin Rumi, the 13th century Muslim scholar, mystic, and poet. I am just getting acquainted with Rumi. Given my work with hospitality regarding homeless and other neighbors, I found “The Guest House” intriguing. Instead of fearing the stranger, the challenge is to welcome and learn what it is they are sent to offer.

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.


  1. Anonymous2:25 AM

    what are your favorite books on hospitality? what are your favorite books on forgiveness? ~ marty

  2. Anonymous2:28 AM

    Magda Trocme, in particular, but the whole village of LeCambon Sur Lignon showed hospitality. Have you read "Lest Innocent Blood be Shed" by Phillip Hallie? Good reading. ~ marty

  3. My favorite books on hospitality are "Reaching Out" by Henri Nouwen and "Making Room" by Christine Pohl.

    Nouwen says the movement from "hostility to hospitality" is one of three primary spiritual developments in our lives. His description of hospitality is worth contemplating, in distinction from faux hosptitality which is nontransformative.

    Pohl explores the historical and theological development and devolution or deformation of hosptiality. She cites recent renewal of hospitality in specific intentional communities (LeCambon being one). Very insightful and practicable.

    Both Nouwen and Pohl explore the mutuality of change or transformation in the practice of hospitality. When practiced genuinely, it is a two-way street.

    I have not yet read "Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed." Thanks for the recommendation.


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