Letter to Tom: The Guest House

Dear Tom:  I came across Rumi‘s poem, The Guest House, and thought of you and Casey. Not just because of your affinity for Rumi, but because I know of your love for and tremendous collection of photographs of doors from all around the world. In almost every photo the door is not a symbol of an obstacle to passage, but an entryway to hospitality. With all the discussion these days about walls and blockades, we forget an open door is a powerful symbol as well.

When we owned “Hubbell’s folly,” the front door was a large beautiful oak door, surrounded by an ornamental portico leading out to the front porch. One of the first things Suzy did to the house (that is after repairing all the plumbing hence the name “Hubbell’s folly”) was to have the wood framed screen door rebuilt with a glass insert where the screen had been. That way, when we were at home the large oak door could always be open and while the glass door kept the heat in, you could also see inside the house symbolizing you are welcome, the door to our house is always open.

Rumi tells us to welcome all visitors and entertain them all, and not just the friendly. Depression, meanness, are welcome too. Why? I think the answer lies in Rumi’s words, “This being human is a guest house.” He tells us that the human condition is full of visits from the good and the bad and to be completely human we have to let in the good and the bad, to welcome them all as equals.

Now old Sufi friend and readers of the Pew, what do you think. Are you open to visitors today?


The Guest House

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, 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. — Rumi.


About the author

Webb Hubbell is the former Associate Attorney General of The United States. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, A Game of Inches, The Eighteenth Green, and The East End are published by Beaufort Books and are available online or at your local bookstore. When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps and The Eighteenth Green won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller. His latest, “Light of Day” will be on the bookstands soon.


  1. That is my favorite Rumi poem. I read it at least every November 22, because that is the page/date where the poem appears in “A Year with Rumi, Daily Readings.” My daily practices include a reading from that book, and one from “A Year with Hafiz, Daily Contemplations.” Two wonderful sources of inspiration to start the day. Hafiz, whose humor AND spirituality are wonderful, says in one,
    “In a vision I heard this clearly whispered:
    Study those who sing the most, but are free of criticism or praise..
    Following that advice, things turned out just as I suspected:
    I started spending more time with birds.”

    AND, yes, Webb, my dear friend, I am open to visitors today, including the birds.

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