A child surrenders to the world of things

February 28, 2011

A child sits on top of a large stone and, while surveying his backyard kingdom, remembers the safety of snuggling with mom in the cocooning hammock.

But bigger adventures await beyond the clean comfort of the fenced yard and the child pushes out beyond the reach of his mother to explore the world of things.

Knots of Our Own Making

How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing —
each stone, blossom, child —
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.

Unlike those heavenly seeking, church attending “adults” in the above Rilke poem (continued below), the child is not pushing away from the larger Gaian mother and into the “fatherly” arms of a transcendent sky spirit. Rather, he is being drawn to connect with and learn from ‘the earth’s intelligence” by connecting with things of this world. By squishing toes in backwater debris, he finds a tangible, felt connection to the divine and his larger ecological Self.

If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left him.

Rilke, The Book of Hours II, 16

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