Saturday, July 3, 2010

Guest House

"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 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 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."

Jelaluddin Rumi
I like this poem. It captures an important aspect of grief. It affirms the many facets that loss presents to the griever. Our american culture, as do all cultures has rituals relating to death and loss. But after the memorial --then what? Then-- there is the business of grief. There is opening the door as Rumi writes and offering an invitation to each emotion or thought as they come. Many of the terms our culture surrounds grief with captures an aspect but for me, none express the full measure of the experience of burying two sons. Five stages of grief? yes there is movement in grief but it is not so tidy. Recovery? I'm not certain there is recovery from grief, It is not that type of injury--or the new normal--more accurately, it is tension between two lives one that was full and now one that is empty. Now that I have criticized, I will say what does work for me--the word path--I like that word. It is a gentle word that contains promise.


  1. Rumi had a beautiful and insightful way of expressing the deep, and sometimes dark, truths of this life. I love this poem. I need to remember it more - thank you for posting it.

    The image of that emptiness - and the metaphor of sweeping the house of its furniture - is so very true, especially right now. But I like to imagine the emptiness as actually filled with God, with LOVE. Not truly empty, but open space, filled with God. It's a mystery, for sure. I am holding hope and love with you, and for you.

  2. Karen, your words are a beautiful hope --thank you.

  3. I am glad to see you talk about the American misconception of grief, and the healthy path you follow. As I trod this sod I share much of what I have learned from you with others as they encounter loss.
    I am going to share that poem with my friend who just lost her mom last week.
    Love, hugs and shouts of encouragment as you study!