Browsed by
Tag: Rilke

Between and Beyond the Stardust

Between and Beyond the Stardust


Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors

which it passes to a row of ancient trees.

You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you

one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,

not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,

not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing

that turns to a star each night and climbs–

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)

your own life, timid and standing high and growing,

so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,

one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

-Rainer Maria Rilke


What does it mean to be human? We live a paradoxical condition in which we exist between two worlds. Just as the earth has cycles, so too does our life. We experience day and night, sadness and joy, fear and courage and darkness and light. Never one to dwell in one condition alone, I dance across the invisible barrier between and feel the pulse of this oneness. Setting aside absolutes requires an acknowledgement of this paradox with a comfort sitting in the unknowns of this same revelation.


We are all meant to live this human experience filled with silent houses and heavy stones all the while setting our intention toward the stars. It is only with this intention that we are able to float above adversity, leaning into both the darkness and light while claiming none.


Nothing is permanent. Just as Rilke writes, “Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors” the night turns to day and “one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.” No single experience remains. The beautiful moments in which a child is born are blurred by the many that follow in raising that child. The quiet and intensely beautiful connection of making love with a soulmate is jolted away by the commitments of a busy day. The memory of holding the hand of a loved one as they pass transforms to an acute feeling of separateness with two physical bodies now one.


Wandering the earth awake, I refuse to be claimed by any one disposition. Rather than walking on either side of a flowing spring, I prefer to walk down the middle with playful waves nipping at my ankles and murky depths below. It is only in this between I feel most like myself. Never one to find any particular identity that fits, I prefer to look to the stars even when my feet are firmly planted on the ground. The unrest that accompanies me is never far behind and the disappointment in my flawed humanness is sometimes too much to bear.


Rilke often speaks of this between expressing a longing that persists. I am grateful in finding his poems, each word speaking to my restless soul and lifting me up when all else seems an illusion. When my final moment arrives and I am moving toward the stars, I will gladly release the cords of connection to this place and fly freely to the next. It is only among the stardust and embers of the ancient that peaceful hearts resides. It is only in giving up the repeat of a single sunset that one captures the universe.






The Passing Of A Beautiful Spirit With An Untamed Heart

The Passing Of A Beautiful Spirit With An Untamed Heart


Events of late have me pondering the paradoxical elements running deeply within my family. Everyone has some wildness, weirdness and hyper intuition but may not elevate these qualities to the degree my family has. This hyper intuition present in all instances and I wonder how women managed to foster unconditional love within this uniqueness without losing themselves entirely in the process.


After much thought, I find I have come full circle: puzzled, awestruck, bemused and a bit afraid. There is much to live up to when placing myself aside those that have lived flawed lives while shining their soul so brightly. On most days, I just want to hide in a self made cave, sipping tea and reading a good book. The world can be far to intimidating and my home feels safe.


How does a women balance a gentle spirit with the constant calling of an untamed heart, a persistent wanderlust for people, place and thing? On a good day, I feel torn by my somewhat ferocious desire to make a difference in the world and the gentle spirited voice that wants to love with abandon, residing in a safe zone of warmth and kindness.


It takes great courage to break with one’s past history and stand alone.”

-Marion Woodman


Hearing the stories of my Grandmother Charlotte’s colorful life only fuel my desire to find a way forward. No matter how one interprets her life in review, there is no doubt that she did it her way. I always admired that she never tried to be anything but herself. In doing so, she had a unique ability to accept others as they were showing up, foibles and all. Even though one could absolutely say she was feisty with an inner fire that burned with a palpable heat, I never experienced a moment with her in which I did not feel seen. She captured my attention, locking in like a missile by speaking to whatever was in my heart. She never shied away from difficult things, at least not with me. Her blunt honesty delivered with a larger than life smile was appreciated more than I believe I ever let her know.


I often wonder if my life trajectory would have been different if I had known her earlier. She and her sister Frieda spoke to me, my gypsy spirit, in a way that others did not. Meeting her was jarring in that I saw someone living in a way that inspired yet frightened me. She had a loving partner who honored her uniqueness and the two of them seemed to exist in a self made bubble of recognition.  Wherever Charlotte was, so too was Wilton.  Two of the same, yet different sides of a coin. She was outgoing and vivacious, he quiet and introspection. I just can’t fathom one without the other.


One thing that remains is the endless wells of generosity I witnessed in Charlotte. She healed wounds in our family that only a child of adoption could know. My mother found a mirror in Charlotte and together they walked through the remainder of Charlotte’s life loving, learning and leaning on one other. No other example of unconditional love stands as profound as this. We gained another grandmother and she gained a daughter with a very loving extended family. In losing her, it brought into focus just how special relationships are and how fortunate it is to connect with another on any level.


“Death is our friend, precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke


I feel the space that she left and hope that in some small way, by living my life on my own terms, I honor that space. I hope to be able to add something positive to my environment, connecting with others in my own careful yet spiritual way. People talk to me and I believe this is a gift that grandma Charlotte passed along. I may not always welcome it, but maybe that is not the point. Maybe the point is how others honor me by sharing their stories. Each time someone opens up in a personal way, I try to honor this sharing while providing some comfort for whatever may be troubling them. I try to exchange energy in the most gentle and loving of ways and in doing so I am the recipient of their bravery, resilience and love. In this way my untamed heart is set free from the fear of living such a non-traditional way. In this way I am the lucky one.


Charlotte is pure light now and privy to all of the beauty and majestic wonder of this spectacular universe. She is everywhere yet nowhere, ever expansive and limitless, she is pure unadulterated love. Peace, blessings and light to her on this next chapter of her journey. I hope to carry with me a small spark of her fire that she so lovingly tended and shared with others.


Ignorant Before the Heavens of My Life

Ignorant Before the Heavens of My Life


Ignorant before the heavens of my life,

I stand and gaze in wonder. Oh the vastness

of the stars. Their rising and descent. How still.

As if I didn’t exist. Do I have any

share in this? Have I somehow dispensed with

their pure effect? Does my blood’s ebb and flow

change with their changes? Let me put aside

every desire, every relationship

except this one, so that my heart grows used to

its farthest spaces. Better that it live

fully aware, in the terror of its stars, than

as if protected, soothed by what is near.

by Rainer Maria Rilke


Have you ever missed a place so much that your heart aches? I have missed a place such as this my entire life. How is this possible?  I do not know. I wish I understood, but I don’t. I long for this place yet cannot even describe it, a different dimension filled with love and light. I have no idea what this other is, but I wish to be there. As Rilke writes, “Ignorant before the heavens of my life, I stand and gaze in wonder. Oh the vastness of the stars.” I see and feel this vastness everyday. It blinds me with its purity and beckons with unconditional love.


I am not well suited for this world; it feels foreign and heavy to me. The day-to-day grind of life along with meaningless small talk and the incessant desire for more. I cannot seem to prescribe to this paradigm, even though I have tried on numerous occasions. My love for my family sustains me, but does not quench a constant thirst for this other. It is a buzzing that never ceases. I can be in a room full of people and still feel alone. It could be that everyone feels this way to some degree and my ultra sensitivity amplifies it. I only know my experience and how it feels to walk in my shoes. Nothing more and nothing less.


This has nothing to do with psychology mumbo jumbo or my personality type. This is much greater than that. It is metaphysical, indefinable and boundless. It feels like the earth’s core; hot, full of energy and dangerously intense. I feel this intensity inside all the while projecting a calm and serene demeanor. It is an untruth, yet a protective one, allowing me to move through my day without becoming completely disillusioned. I am very much unseen but often end up spending most of my time “seeing” other people. The naked truth of this sight can be sobering. I have this other voice in my mind constantly taunting me, calling out to me when all I want to do is live my life. It teases me, telling me, “No, this is not you. This is not living.”


In moments such as these I read Rilke’s last line, “Better that it live fully aware, in the terror of its stars, than as if protected, soothed by what is near.” I am fully aware and live in a state of unrest knowing that this other is too vast and beautiful to comprehend. I have chosen to sit in this space rather than be soothed by what is near. Comfort will never be enough and I have learned to accept this even when it is lonely. I find solace in writing, people that understand the jagged pieces of my soul and the light. I feel it nearby at all times and for this I am grateful. In due time I will come home to this other and all will be right, but first I must live this life fully. I must learn the lessons meant for me and love as much as my tentative heart will allow. It is only in the living that I will be released back to where I am from…home.





I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875 – 1926

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug,
like my mother’s face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.


Having lived a life with many chapters, I find that I still constrict parts of myself that are true in an effort to maintain the status quo, to function in this world as it is. This “folding’ of self is a self imposed confinement of all that make me a wonderful and unique person.  Just as a caterpillar endures restriction in order to experience a true metamorphosis into a butterfly, I too have found patience in this process with the knowing that I will indeed completely unfold as Rilke states in the poem above.


This unfolding will be unsteady and foreign for anyone that has lived a small existent, presenting as less than to the world.  Fully accepting our true self and infinite wholeness can be so expansive and vast it becomes frightening. Why this fear? I do not know.  We live with the desire to be seen and heard, to live large, make a difference and achieve goals.  Yet when talking about our true self, we shy away from the discourse and choose instead to talk about more concrete desires. It is just too revealing and anything that is that intimate can be intimidating and difficult to approach.


Admittedly, I have grazed this topic for many years. Even as a child I remember quite vividly knowing that I had a different perspective on what was important and how I viewed the world.  I have always danced around my inner self, my soul. She and I are old friends and over the years have become more connected, functioning in unison more often than not. We are one in the same, mirror images of each other.


This self study from an early age is best described by Rilke with “..I want to describe myself like a picture I observed for a long time, one close up”.  My picture is well worn on the corners from many years of introspection and detailed examination. It is a visual representation of my life thus far. This self-portrait shows all areas of my life in which I have clung to my faith during times of complete and utter sadness and despair. It is also representative of the many joys that have graced my life, far too many to express here. No picture is complete without the shading of both darkness and light.

This does not mean that I have a complete understanding of self, I am not sure that is even possible. I can only hope that I have had more instances of unfolding instead of constriction and that this will continue to be the case moving forward. My wish is to be expansive and open, to escape the bonds of self-doubt and to move freely through the remainder of my life with my heart and soul wide open.

Head Versus Heart

Head Versus Heart

As one that is both an emotional being and a deeply intellectual thinker, I am in a constant search for the proper balance between the two approaches to life. My natural inclination is to lean into what my hearts says and follow my intuition, but even so this leaning is always peppered with a fair amount of intellectual analysis and strategizing of end results. This push and pull can be limiting and a place I try not to inhabit for very long.  Life having the sense of humor that it does, this analysis usually happens in the middle of the night when my mind is more prone to wander. As such, I am a frequent guest of sleepless nights and find solace in the wakefulness and introspection.   


Upon reading a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke I was immediately drawn to the first sentence, specifically “O Anxious one”. Anxiety is ever present when I allow my mind to take the lead and neglect the very important role of the heart.  The problem being the mind is extremely clever and can come up with a million eventualities before an event has even taken place.  If I resist this catastrophizing and allow my heart to lead, I am at peace with the unfolding and feel a sense of calm that the mind does not make space for.  This poem is a simple and beautiful way to facilitate a gentle drawing back to a state of equilibrium, especially in moments when the mind stubbornly races along.


   I am, O Anxious One. Don’t you hear my voice

surging forth with all my earthly feelings?

They yearn so high, that they have sprouted wings

and whitely fly in circles round your face.

My soul, dressed in silence, rises up

and stands alone before you: can’t you see?

don’t you know that my prayer is growing ripe

upon your vision as upon a tree?

If you are the dreamer, I am what you dream.

But when you want to wake, I am your wish,

and I grow strong with all magnificence

and turn myself into a star’s vast silence

above the strange and distant city, Time.


Rainer Maria Rilke


In addition, the sentence that reads “My soul, dressed in silence, rises up and stands alone before you: can’t you see?” is like home to me. My soul is in a constant interplay with the exterior world, harboring a desire for others to “see” me by searching the silence of what remains unspoken within.  This is no easy task.  It is as if I am shouting from the top of a mountain to be seen, yet all the while hiding behind a cloud daring to be discovered. I suspect that when another chooses to look beyond my external self, they will begin to see shades of this declaration and be confused by my apparent waiving. The truth is that no amount of intellectual analysis alone will reveal the truths that I harbor.  Engagement of the heart requires a vulnerability that is not approached when using only the brain. This heart work requires strength of character, the ability to live in the discomfort of this space and even some grace. It is in the exposing of hidden truths that one really learns about themselves and about others, a lifelong task and one that is meaningful for all willing to dive in and take the risk.


You’ve got to get out of your head and into your heart. Right now your thoughts are in your head, and God seems to be outside you. Your prayer and all your spiritual exercises also remain exterior. As long as you are in your head, you will never master your thoughts, which continue to whirl around your head like snow in a winter’s storm or like mosquitoes in the summer heat. If you descend into your heart, you will have no more difficulty. Your mind will empty out and your thoughts will dissipate….

St Theophan the Recluse


As part of my journey, I continue to search for that balance.  Sometimes I lean into my heart as intended and other times I allow my brain to completely run the show.  Fascinating how we all choose to cope given any particular circumstance. Constantly striving for this balance, I will be silently drawn to the discovery of hidden truths; the simplicity of this affirmation is humbling. I find comfort in the solitude of this work with the intention to listen to my heart speak in the silence. For me this end is well worth the struggle.

Dragons and Princesses: Living, Loving and Learning the Mystery

Dragons and Princesses: Living, Loving and Learning the Mystery


Be patient to all that is unsolved in your heart and try to

Love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books

that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the

answers, which cannot be given you because you would not

be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.

Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without

noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Resolve to be always beginning – to be a beginner

-Rainer Maria Rilke


Writing this on the cusp of the full moon and with so much change chasing me down, I find solace in the opening sentence of the above poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. “Be patient to all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…”  I have so many questions, many more than I thought possible at my age.  I wrongly assumed that nearing the fifth decade of life I would have acquired wisdom and be in the honorary position of teacher, imparting what I have learned to others. I could not have been more wrong. The older I get, the more I begin to understand that I really know nothing at all.  


“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence,something helpless that wants our love.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke


I have illusions and opinions, as one will accumulate, the metaphorical “dragon” that Rilke speaks to above. These dragons are constantly tested in uncomfortable and unforgiving ways. I continue to hope that they will in fact become “princesses” and blossom into some incredible insight and knowing. I try to live my life with as much courage as I can muster egging on this transformation. Yet, it still eludes me.  At times it is as if I am beginning anew each day, as a child, unsure of everything and reframing all things that I encounter in an attempt to make sense of it all in some small way. It is a frightening feeling, but I inherently understand a necessary one for my spiritual growth.


“Let everything happen to you

Beauty and terror

Just keep going

No feeling is final”

-Rainer Maria Rilke


This does not mean that I happen upon this journey with good nature and delight.  On the contrary, during times of intense challenge, change and discomfort, I develop a deep desire to flee. To run from all that troubles me, hiding in plain site from any transformative opportunities.  I begrudgingly curse the Divine for forcing this difficult path on me when others seem to have it so easy. The “why me?” voice in my mind can be loud, shouting for attention. I have learned that I must actively ignore this voice even if I still hear it in the distance. It is a voice born from fear of the unknown, my own personal dragon. Ignoring this voice is clearly a choice and one that I make moment to moment when caught up in the weeds of transformation.

I have taken to challenging my inner dialogue with a few statements of my own creation, among them  “be brave” and “my heart is open”.   I have even told myself over and over “I am loving and lovable”. For some reason this helps me see all things from the lens of love rather than anger or fear, even those instance in which I bring something upon myself knowing full well that I should not. Forgiveness of self is one of the most difficult pills to swallow.


Instead of standing on the shore and proving to ourselves

that the ocean cannot carry us, let us venture on its waters

just to see.

—Teilhard de Chardin


One thing I do believe to be true is that we must choose to show up each day, living the questions with no answers promised. Maybe the true measure of a life well lived is simply the commitment to approach each day with joy and curiosity.  To live fully without understanding the deeper truths and letting that be enough.  It is a difficult reality to embrace when the winds of change beckon again and again.  As Teilhard de Chardin says so well, “…let us venture on its water just to see.” I wish to “see” what today, tomorrow and everyday thereafter will bring, no matter the consequence.