April 22, 2011

With Silence or a Solitary Joy

Woman Walking in a Garden

Just as bees gather honey, so we collect from all that happens what is sweetest—and we build Him. Even with the littlest, most insignificant thing, when it comes from love, we begin. We begin with effort and the repose that follows efforts, with silence or a solitary joy, with everything we do alone without anyone to join or help us, we begin Him whom we will not live to see, any more than our ancestors could experience us. Yet they are in us, those long departed ones, they are in our inclinations, our moral burdens, our pulsing blood, and in gestures that arise from the depths of time.

Rome, December 23, 1903
Letters to a Young Poet


  1. The future God we create, the god that has been created in us from the heritage of our forebears. Do you see how easily he transports us from God to ancestors? What is God, what is human? Maybe the life that is created is God. All that we are and become. It's not that we build Him as much as we build Us, and extend what has already come to us, as Rilke has said elsewhere:

    You have to continue his life within your life to the extent that it had not been completed; his life has now passed over to yours and you who truly knew him can move forward quite as he intended: make this the task of your mourning, to explore what he expected of you, hoped for you, wished would happen to you. If I could only convince you, my friend, that his influence has not left your existence (how much more securely I feel my father’s influence and assistance within me since he is no longer with us). Consider how much in daily life distracts, obscures, and renders another’s love imprecise.

  2. ... and "gestation is everything" as Rilke said elsewhere in "Letters to a Young Poet" -- a slow coming to term, over many lifetimes, God, Love, the Poem. Our job is to build the next room of that dream, obviously for personal reasons (as Jesus of the gnostic Gospel of St. Thomas said -- "If you bring out what is inside you, what you bring out will save you. If you fail to bring out what is inside you, what you fail to bring out will destroy you"), but for collective ones as well. So our writing the next poem is a manner of loyalty and devotion to our tribe ... Emerson's essay "Circles" go so much into this notion of each generation building out the sphere which our first singers, lovers, believers planted (here). - Brendan

  3. And so Erin's shouting flower in the field is shouting so personally, small-ly, yet also shouting all that has been dropped in the field, risen up in the field, gestated in the field for billions of years. One flower.

    Let's bloom recklessly!

  4. yesterday i tried very slowly to understand. in all honesty i feel i have a brain defect. i feel incapable of understanding the world as most people do. and oddly enough, i am glad for it. and so slowly in my disjointed manner i leaned into an understanding that was more a sensation reduced to elemental fragments, that we are energy only, perfection and negation forms of energy too, god - all energy, and so we are a forward propulsion tied to the past, holding us all and everything, an eternal connection, truth, and beauty, born as an angle, never arriving, not quite completing, but bending into it always. does it make sense? i don't know, but i feel somewhere inside of my bastardized occurence that it does, and what rilke says here is akin to my understanding.

    thank you ruth. desperately and deeply i feel thanks for your seeing my one tiny flower in the endless fields.

    "gestation is everything" - our eternal forward momentous propulsion.


  5. There is so much in this passage that it's hard to know where to begin. I love the notion that "we build Him," we build God, suggesting, as Ruth notes, that we are building Us and, in doing so, we are creating God or some aspect of God. To some this would be heresy. To me, however, it is liberating, for it recognizes that we are divine beings who can never be absolved of the responsibility to create the world anew with every act and each passing day.

  6. though god is around, to me we experience him in these moments that become holy to us. the silence the beauty and the natural

  7. Somehow, reading Rilke's quote today reminded me of this:

    "I then moved deeper into the unified field of existence and experience the
    dynamics of humanity's awakening as movements initiated and orchestrated
    by a single, integrating Intelligence. Previously my frame of reference for
    understanding these processes have been individual human beings, and the
    themes of individual evolution are the skilful exercise of free will over vast
    epochs of time. Now I was drawn into a superordinate level of reality that
    revealed a deeper organisational pattern, a pattern that paradoxically did not
    contradict the reality of individual agency. From this perspective, I
    experienced the evolution of our species as the systematic growth of a single organism, a unified and unifying Being that all of us were part of. The subtlety of the cooperation of the parts with the whole was extraordinary. Nothing in our theological or philosophical systems does justice to the facts. To experience the incredible diversity of our species as a single unified field made many events clearer. New patterns sprang into view and the patterns made transparent sense.

    What I "saw" was that the unified field was moving decisively and
    precipitously to become more aware of itself in spacetime. Whereas previously it had existed as an extended fabric of being, largely unconscious of itself at the physical level, it was now waking itself up. Visually this took the form of energy coming together in swift, contracted spasms that created bright flashes of awareness. I repeatedly saw extended webs of energy suddenly contract and explode in brilliant flashes. In the past these flashes had not endured long and had been swallowed by the inertia of the collective unconscious of our species.
    Now, however, the flashes were beginning to hold their own. Not only were
    they not dissolving, but they were beginning to connect with other flashes
    occurring around the planet.
    . . .

    I was first taken back to the primordial beginning before creation and there experienced human evolution in the context of a larger cosmic agenda. Suddenly I was overwhelmed by the most extraordinary Love, a love unlike anything I had ever encountered before. It was a romantic love, cosmic in scope and intensity. As I stabilized under this amorous assault, I began to remember from deep within my story. An ancient love, a divine love of unbelievable proportions. I was a Cosmic Being being loved by another Cosmic Being. Though at one level I had never been separated from my Lover, at another level we had been separated for billions of years, and my return was rekindling our ancient love.

    The pieces were hard to catch. Creation seemed to be a reality that had come forth from the dynamic relation between two Cosmic Beings, which had themselves emerged from a more fundamental Primal Unity. One Being,who felt more like a He, had remained fully conscious outside of matter while the other had plunged Herself into the task of creating the material dimension, knowing in advance that She would lose Her self-awareness in this work and become unconscious of Her true reality for billions of years. She had voluntarily submitted to this long and painful exile in order to create the raw substance of physical life that would in time become transparent to divine intention as matter evolved into full self-awareness. This work now largely complete, the self-imposed exile was coming to an end, and the Lovers were being reunited at long last...."

    - Christopher Bache, "Dark Night, Early Dawn: Steps To A Deep Ecology of Mind"


"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!