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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.






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.


Faith in the Unknown

Faith in the Unknown

Richard Rohr


I have had many wonderful mentors in my life, true examples of living a soulful and loving life. They come from all different areas of practice: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism and undeclared spirituality.  As different as this eclectic group of people appears, they all share one thing in common. That is, they all are comfortable sitting in the unknown, do not profess to understand all and have no need for such understanding. They are able to recite verse and speak on their form of spiritual practice quite fluidly, while still embracing the mysteries of life that require imagination and faith.  I define people such as those in this group mystics in their truest form. They come together in a shared understanding that all is not as clear and straightforward as one would like it to be.

There is true beauty in this space. The possibilities are wondrous and do not reflect a lack of direction or act as a measure of one’s faith.  What does faith mean anyway?  Merriam-Webster lists the definitions of faith as, “allegiance to duty or a person, loyalty, sincerity of intentions, firm belief in something for which there is no proof and complete trust” Using the word faith or faithful does not imply a knowing or complete understanding of whatever it is that we are applying the word to.  It simply means a choice to believe without concrete proof. I especially like Richard Rohr’s statement on this.


“My scientist friends have come up with things like ‘principles of uncertainty’ and dark holes. They’re willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of ‘faith’! How strange that the very word ‘faith’ has come to mean its exact opposite.”

Richard Rohr


Those of us who have dabbled in the sciences understand this to be true. Science is all about formulating a hypothesis with the understanding that others will do everything in their power to disprove the hypothesis. If in the end it still stands, the hypothesis is deemed to be “true” until the time when it can be disproven. Is this not the exact same process that a faithful practitioner will work through? Faith is a constant journey, not a destination. In my humble opinion it is a practice. Choosing to demonstrate faith for the unknown is a tenant of spirituality, along with the steadfast belief in something greater than oneself.

The answers we seek will never be shown to us definitively as long as we inhabit our human bodies.  I believe that our souls know the truths that we so deeply want to claim, yet allow for exploration as a way to deepen our human experience. The only possible way forward is to become comfortable with the unknown. The restless and questioning heart that constantly looks for further mysteries and experiences.

It takes a great deal of courage to live in this way. Much will be said about the person who practices faithfully among others who remain fearful of the unknown. They will try and disprove your hypothesis, as they should. It is healthy to be questioned and does not imply a lack of courage or resolve. One must constantly ask the heart and mind the questions that will ultimately bring one closer to the soul, our true self. For it is not only in the asking of the questions, but in the ability to sit comfortably in the depths of this place steadfast. Striving for better connection to that which we cannot be sure exists without faith. It is a deeply troubling process but enormously rewarding at the same time. It is the paradox of life once again upon us. Do you feel it?


“Courage is found in unlikely places.”

J.R.R Tolkien