August 25, 2011

The Press of Time

Blossoming Almond Branch
in a Glass with a Book

We set the pace,
But this press of time—
take it as a little thing
next to what endures.

All this hurrying
soon will be over.
Only when we tarry
do we touch the holy.

Young ones, don't waste your courage
racing so fast,
flying so high.

See how all things are at rest—
darkness and morning light,
blossom and book.

Sonnets to Orpheus I, 22


  1. A beautiful thought here, one that I need to be reminded of constantly. "Only when we tarry do we touch the holy." Tarrying slows down the frenzy of movement in our day to day lives and allows us to re-enter the present, where we can then experience "what endures."

  2. I agree, George.

    This seems to be something that comes easier with age. Is it because I am slowing down, naturally? Can young people understand this, be taught this? Is that stanza rhetorical, encouraging them not to waste their courage?

    Going out into nature, or closing my eyes while listening to music, these times of "doing nothing" but observing, witnessing with my being, restore my belief that there is holiness here.

  3. Watching my two teens during these dog days of summer, I do worry that television, smart phones, internet service and touch pads will be the death knell of a generation's desire to learn to experience what endures. They live in a fast world made seductive by its instantaneous quality.

    I don't think you can teach them to slow down. I think you just have to trust that the desire to touch the holy is a necessary part of human nature - and they'll get there in their own time.

  4. anonymous, such a valid point. i work with teenagers, live with children, and wonder on them. they are such social beasts. they need to scourge this out of their selves before they can pause, really. or so i had to in my ways, although i scourged in other ways too, even in standing still.

    i was speaking with an older couple yesterday. i sold them shoes. i told them they would get at least five years out of them. the woman laughed, i don't know if i'll live that long. putting them through cash she talked about her grandson, how sad he is, how he spends too much time on video games and equipment. i asked, do you remember rope swings? she lit up and then her husband looked even sadder. he said, what can we say? we have given him an ipod - the latest. and so i have to look to myself and make sure that i hold a rope swing in my days. and that if my children do not ride it now, they will know how when it is time.

    it is in the slow moments where real life exists. the rest, i believe, is a mirage, a distraction from the great truths. i wonder if literature is this too sometimes. even this, even the pen or the book is aenemic at times, or a distance. even these things should be laid down. we have great need to surrendor.


  5. erin, why is everything you wrote, and echoing anonymous, surrounding me at this moment, and was all the way to work on my drive, composing with my mind's pen . . .

    Even in those moments I had a need to express it, even as I witnessed it, the need to slow. Such contrasts and tensions we harbor within these bodies, the need to go in and be quiet, the need to talk about it.

  6. my children have to wonder at their father who bicycles everywhere, reads books, writes by hand, sits outside and watches big thunderstorms. their world is different and not by their own choice - yet. steven

  7. For a very engaging, thoughtful and evocative essay on this topic (today's kids, being believed as authentic, and much more), read Mark Kerstetter's blog today, here, titled "Whose Self?"


"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!