March 30, 2011

The Last Supper

Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background

They are assembled around him, troubled and confused.
He seems withdrawn,
as if, strangely, he were flowing past
those to whom he had belonged.
The old aloneness comes over him.
It had prepared him for his deep work.
Now once again he will go out to the olive groves.
Now those who love him will flee from him.

He had bid them come to this last meal.
Their hands on the bread
tremble now at the words he speaks,
tremble in sudden silence
as a forest does when a gun is fired.
They long to leave, and they will.
But they will find him everywhere.

Book of Images


  1. A lovely commentary on Christ's last moments with His Disciples.

  2. Oh dear, this is so evocative. First, the story of Christ in the garden ("I come to the garden alone . . . ") has always been tremendously poignant. The naked and raw truth that a person faces their fate utterly alone. And more than merely being isolated from his fellows, he is facing isolation from his father-God. This was always taught to me as the great hell he went through, that separation from God.

    I think that is what hell is. That we separate ourselves from what is divine. In others, in ourselves. Separation is the only sin. That's it. There's no other right and wrong but this one. Separating ourselves from the Other. I don't mean feeling alone, which is inevitable, but I mean walking away from the center, turning from it. And when I say "sin" I mean the one thing that will cause us hell. The terrible sin-hell Christ went through was being separate from his divinity for those three days. (I may have my theology wrong . . . )

    As for that gunshot. Like grapeshot, it goes out and fills the forest with "him" everywhere. The shock and awe of losing him, but then finding him, the driving spirit, in everything.

  3. And from this "sin" of separateness from the divine in ourselves, we commit all wrongs: against other humans, animals, the earth, for we fail to see the divine in them too.

  4. It's said that Rilke was the last Romantic poet, and I agree. He's like Wagner, late-stage Romanticism where the divine notes roll out forever. (What is that Wagner symphony where there are bass notes which sound for 32 beats). The sense of the poet as the arbitrator of the Divine on earth allow Rilke to assume the persona of Christ, to feel his pain and magnitude at the same time. Modernists began from that culture's devastation in the First World War; no longer the divine is present, but merely its reflection on stained-glass windows. The stained glass was as close as they would get to God. Rilke still envelops the light shining through that glass. poetry not only as priestly vocation but salvation itself. The banana peel for the Romantics goes back to the lintel of Delphi which read, "Know Yourself -- And Know That You Ain't God." Rilke had a magnificent career of defying the gravity of that whoopsie all the way to his end. A note resounding for a whole life- Brendan

  5. i'm no christian but when the gun sounds the vibrations that come into me and through me still say the same things, no matter what direction you turn to or what walls you hide behind, sound vibrations find you. there is no escaping certain truths. i mean no offense to anyone who believes differently, i revere jesus as a poet. as a fine man. he vibrates still.

    there is aloneness and then there is aloneness without belief. belief can be many things but to be without it is to be a stone. but even a stone can resonate.


  6. I think the power lies in the last stanza "They long to leave...but they will find him everywhere!

  7. Stellar Rilke quotes & posts this week, Ruth & Lorenzo! Hats off to both of you (as always).


  8. This post is a blessing on my day - thank you.


"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Go ahead, bloom recklessly!