A Poet on Sorrow and Destiny…

“I believe that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension that we find paralyzing because we no longer hear our surprised feelings living. Because we are alone with the alien thing that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away; because we stand in the middle of a transition where we cannot remain standing. For this reason the sadness too passes: the new thing in us, the added thing, has entered into our heart, has gone into its inmost chamber and is not even there any more,–is already in our blood. And we do not learn what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing has happened, and yet we have changed, as a house changes into which a guest has entered. We cannot say who has come, perhaps we shall never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters into us in this way in order to transform itself in us long before it happens. And this is why it is so important to be lonely and attentive when one is sad: because the apparently uneventful and stark moment at which our future sets foot in us is so much closer to life than that other noisy and fortuitous point of time at which it happens to us as if from outside. The more still, more patient and more open we are when we are sad, so much the deeper and so much the more unswervingly does the new go into us, so much the better do we make it ours, so much the more will it be our destiny, and when on some later day it ‘happens’ (that is, steps forth out of us to others), we shall feel in our inmost selves akin and near to it. And that is necessary. It is necessary–and toward this our development will move gradually–that nothing strange should befall us, but only that which has long belonged to us. We have already had to rethink so many of our concepts of motion, we will also gradually learn to realize that that which we call destiny goes forth from within people…” Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet

I love the “steps forth out of us to others” bit. So much steps forth out of us into our worlds and to others and so much we can cultivate of the best “stepping forth” through our attentiveness and willingness to trust self, to trust the processes of growth that include everything from intense pain to sheer delight. And how vital it is to allow these contrasts without judgement, without fear as we build our lives.

earthspill filling

Just Keep Going…

“God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.”

Rainer Maria Rilke – Book of Hours, Love Poems to God (Translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows)

Just keep going…just keep going…these are the words that grab me today, speaking particularly to and of the heart. Whatever the changes, the stalls, the back up against the wall one more time story, the edging away from that wall, the vision of beyond and deep within, whatever the story…just keep going (even in your moment of collapse, be in it, go into it knowing you will cycle back up onto your feet and one day they will dance). Tom Cowan has a workshop for shamans that focuses on the spiritual practice of shapeshifting (no, you don’t fly over your ex’s house as a crow on a mission…). One of the elements of the workshop I appreciated probably the most details the 3 cauldrons of the soul. One in particular speaks today in this poem, in the one phrase: Just keep going. As one of the cauldrons Cowan details, the heart says “I act!” I respond. I go forth into the world from this amness (the cauldron of the belly or gut). And then: “I know” says the cauldron of the mind or, more accurately, the crown. But this knowing is not the knowing of logic. It is the knowing resonance with the Divine pattern of one’s life and of humanity in the grand eternal scheme of love. It’s an intuitive unfolding knowing into that daily reality as we “just keep going.”

And that’s my world lately. I wanted so many things to be accomplished by now and yet, the time hasn’t made room for those things to emerge. Other things are growing, emerging slowly. More precious, deeper knowings of purpose, of resonance, of acceptance of this path. When healing the amness layer of self, the heart cries out to act, to do, to express in the life what is brewing deep within. But timing can make the difference between a fractured movement and a whole flowing vision-in-motion.

On. With. It.

Weirdly Courageous?

As soon as I say some things are just too weird, too much to have to encounter, Rilke’s words hum a truth sometimes lost in the onslaught of life:

“We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it. That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter.” R.M. Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet

Rilke Resonates

“You, mountain, here since mountains began,
slopes where nothing is built, peaks that no one has
eternal snows littered with stars,
valleys in flower–

Do I move inside you now?
Am I within the rock
like a metal that hasn’t been mined?
Your hardness encloses me everywhere.

Or is it fear
I am caught in? The tightening fear
of the swollen cities
in which I suffocate.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Not much bright to bring to the world lately. Too many obstacles and setbacks stifle access to creativity beyond what it takes to put one foot, then the other. I’m sure many can relate…

Directions To Ruth

Sitting at my pc last night, searching through files my eyes fell across a document titled:  DirectionstoRuth.doc. Something in me felt a bit of a surge, maybe I’d find that part of my self currently so flattened there’s no distinction beyond fatigue. Maybe it held words like shovels digging up long-lost inspiration, clearing out the overload, pushing back the tide of exhaustion. I laughed at myself immediately but went ahead to open the document, remembering it was most likely an old file of directions to my home. And it was, but what a telling moment.

From there I found an old IMP outpouring, posted it and went off to bed painfully aware of how impervious I am not right now. Bolstering self and shoring up the energy to put one foot and then the other gets…old. The only truly authentic move for me was to collapse in bed. Gee, I felt so real.

After getting up to face the day, I realize I’m too much spent at 8am. This sounds awfully like whining. It really isn’t. It’s an acknowledgement that I need to pull back, that my struggles with chronic fatigue/fever/aches and the work to be an actual resource for my children while taking three classes is taking a toll. Ideally, I’d get to crash for two weeks literally resting constantly with no stress. That would pull me out of the slump and how luxurious it would be, no? Not possible.

So, words will be fewer here for a while unless some grand surge lifts me out of the flatlands and soon. Maybe a quote or two will haunt this blog until then.

In the meantime…

“God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke’s River

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Rainer Maria Rilke – Book of Hours, Love Poems to God (pg, 58)

Emphasis mine, of course.

Be Patient . . .

“…be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and … try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet

I need all the inspiration I can get right now. This grabs me, brings me back to a place of rest within and doesn’t pretend to have “the answer.”


reaching . . .
reaching . . .

In deep nights I dig for you like treasure.
For all I have seen
that clutters the surface of my world
is poor and paltry substitute
for the beauty that is you
that has not happened yet.

My hands are bloody from digging.
I lift them, hold them open in the wind,
so they can branch like a tree.

Reaching, these hands would pull you out of the sky
as if you had shattered there,
dashed yourself to pieces in some wild impatience.

What is this I feel falling now,
falling on this parched earth,
like a spring rain?

Rainer Maria Rilke
Book Of Hours
Love Poems To God

Thoughts On Being and NonBeing

dscn08351Of all the authors I cherish, two now intimately acquainted with “the truly inward source” have my unwavering commitment to their works: Alan Watts and Rainer Maria Rilke. And I can’t exclude Erich Fromm. But I digress. They all have one thing in common. They cared about authenticity in love, in living, in every layer of what it is to be alive. And they dedicated their lives to the exploration of the development of soul with their own unique approachs in articulation and in vocation.

Watts, holding a Master’s in Theology, wrote many books, opening doors to Eastern thought for countless people and gave lectures. Rilke poured out poems and prose and travelled the world. Fromm established himself securely in psychoanalysis and critical thought. They each influenced the world of human development beautifully and continue to do so.

But for now, I’m going to simply quote Watts here and be done for the day. He challenges extremes and puts us all to rest with a wonderful since of the unity we can share no matter our religious or non-religious bent.

“To be or not to be is not the question, for pure being and pure nonbeing are alike conceptual ghosts. But as soon as the ‘inner identity’ of these correlatives is felt, as well as that which lies between man and nature, the knower and the known, death seems simply to be a return to that unknown inwardness out of which we were born. This is not to say that death, biologically speaking, is reversed birth. It is rather that the truly inward source of one’s life was never born, but has always remained inside, somewhat as the life remains in the tree, though the fruits may come and go. Outwardly, I am one apple among many. Inwardly, I am the tree.”

Alan Watts – Nature, Man and Woman

We can know, as we become more at peace with the being/nonbeingness of our core, that we all share from and partake of the same beginning. And the same ending. We forget that truth in our fixation on differences. We forget it in our ideas of separation from each other. Yet we all cross some street or river to get to the next place. We all pull our clothes on over naked bodies. We all struggle with identity issues. We all want peace. We all get angry. We all feel hurt. Underneath it all, we want to know and be known in love and in intelligence. We want to understand the dance between the ghostly complements of being and nonbeing. Even if the desire is merely unconscious, our longing manifests in our daily cravings and patterns, in our choices.

And the end to that craving, the answer to the perpetual questioning is a simple act of being right here, right now, with yourself in acceptance. It’s as clear as resting in these great words: “The truly inward source … has always remained inside.”

And so it is.