Befriending Ourselves - Resources for Inner Peace & Compassionate Self-Care
Poetry
 
The Guest House
by Jelaluddin Balkhi Rumi
 
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.
 
 
Love After Love
by Derek Walcott
 
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
 
 
Love Sorrow
by Mary Oliver
 
Love sorrow. She is yours now, and you must
take care of what has been
given. Brush her hair, help her
into her little coat, hold her hand,
especially when crossing a street. For, think,
 
what if you should lose her? Then you would be
sorrow yourself; her drawn face, her sleeplessness
would be yours. Take care, touch
her forehead that she feel herself not so
 
utterly alone. And smile, that she does not
altogether forget the world before the lesson.
Have patience in abundance. And do not
ever lie or ever leave her even for a moment
 
by herself, which is to say, possibly, again,
abandoned. She is strange, mute, difficult,
sometimes unmanageable but, remember, she is a child.
And amazing things can happen. And you may see,
 
as the two of you go
walking together in the morning light, how
little by little she relaxes; she looks about her;
she begins to grow.
 
 
 
I Swear My Dear Son
by Jelaluddin Balkhi Rumi
 
I swear my dear son,
no one in the entire world
is as precious as you are.
 
Look at that mirror.
Take a good look at yourself.
Who else is there above and beyond you?
 
Now give yourself a kiss
and with sweet whispers
fill your ears to the brim.
 
Watch for all that beauty
reflecting from you
and sing a love song to your existence.
 
You can never overdo
praising your own soul.
You can never over-pamper your heart.
 
You are both
the father and the son,
the sugar and the sugar cane.
 
Who else but you?
Please tell me who else
can ever take your place?
 
Now give yourself a smile.
What is the worth of a diamond
if it doesn't shine?
 
How can I ever put a price
on the diamond that you are?
You are the entire treasure of the house.
 
You and your shadow
are forever present in this world.
You're that glorious bird of paradise.

 
 
Crying
by Galway Kinnell

Crying only a little bit
is no use. You must cry
until your pillow is soaked!
Then you can get up and laugh,
Then you can jump in the shower
and splash-splash-splash!
Then you can throw open your
window and "Ha ha! Ha ha!"
And if people say, "Hey,
What's going on up there?"
"Ha ha!" sing back, "Happiness
was hiding in the last tear!
I wept it! Ha ha."



Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.