On the path

December 28, 2005

Parts of a Rilke poem, translated by Coleman Barks, read:

“…whoever you are: some evening take a step out of your house which you know so well…..

… with your eyes slowly, slowly, lift one black tree up, so it stands against the sky: slender, alone…

…tenderly your eyes let it go…”

Rilke_treeWhat Rilke is asking is for each of us to find the courage to leave the safety and comfort of our daily lives and begin the journey to connect to the whole of life.

In a different translation by Joanna Macy/Anita Barrows there is the added line:

“Now the immense loneliness begins”

The people for whom I have the greatest admiration are those very people Rilke is imploring. It is never easy to move towards the light. Instead of unconditional support, parents, partners and society in general make this journey even more difficult. Instead of being the bow and releasing the pilgrim like an arrow into the world (Kahil Gibran’s analogy), they tend to impede and cling. What advice they offer is couched in fear.


Therefore, to those brave souls willing to seek answers beyond the known, I offer a gracious love to your well being in the coming New Year.

To those left behind tending the home fires, I offer a gracious support and will pray with you that those travelling on the great journey will be kept out of harm’s way.

To all pilgrims everywhere, if temporary refuge is needed, Windgrove is available.

Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.

And another man, who remains inside his own house,
dies there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
so that his children have to go far out into the world
toward that same church, which he forgot.

Rilke (translation, Robert Bly)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Previous post:

Next post: