strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.
each stone, blossom, child –
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left him.
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.
So many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
That a storm is coming,
And I hear the far off fields say things
I can’t bear without a friend, I can’t love without a sister.
The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
Across the woods, and across time,
And the world looks like it had no age:
The landscape, like a line in the psalm book,
Is seriousness and weight and eternity.
What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights with us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
As things do by some immense storm,
We would become strong too, and not need names.
When we win it’s with small things,
And the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
Does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
To the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
When the wrestler’s sinews
Grew long like metal strings,
He felt them under his fingers
Like chords of deep music.
Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined to fight)
went away proud and strengthened
And great from that harsh hand,
That kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively
By constantly greater beings.
Rainer Maria rilke
If only once it were still.
If the “not quite right” and the “why this”
Could be muted, and the neighbor’s laughter,
And the static my senses make–
If all of it didn’t keep me from coming awake–
Then in one vast thousandfold thought
I could think you up to where thinking ends.
I could possess you,
Even for the brevity of a smile,
To offer you
To all that lives,
Rilke’s Book of Hours
Even though the world changes like cloud formations
all that is fulfilled returns home to the changeless One.
Above all the turning and changing
wider and freer, remains Your Song,
God with the lyre, God with the heart.
Sufferings have not been learned,
loving has not really been learned,
and what separates us in death
has not been unveiled.
But the Great Song above the earth
hallows and celebrates it all.
– Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. Br. David Steindl-Rast