It’s a hard time to be human. We know too much
and too little. Does the breeze need us?
The cliffs? The gulls?
If you’ve managed to do one good thing,
the ocean doesn’t care.
But when Newton’s apple fell toward the earth,
the earth, ever so slightly, fell
toward the apple as well.
~Ellen Bass from “The World Has Need of You”
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.
Flare up like a 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 from “Book of Hours”
For too much of my life I have focused on the future, bypassing the present. There is always a goal to achieve, a conclusion becoming commencement of the next phase, a sunset turning right around in a few hours to become sunrise.
When the present is so hard, so overwhelming, so riveting, so tenderly full of life or achingly full of death, I grab hold with all my strength to try and secret it away and keep it forever. Even if it slips away from me, elusive and evasive, torn to bits by the unrelenting and devastating movement of time, I have felt the earth move, ever so slightly, toward me.
So, whether out of joy or pain, I must write to harvest those times to make them last a little bit longer. Maybe not forever; they will be lost downstream into the ether of unread words.
Even if unread, I am learning that words, which had the power in the beginning to create all life, can bring tenderness and meaning back to my life. I embody Him.
How blessed to live the gift twice: not just in the moment itself but in writing words that preserve and treasure it all up.