The following poetry and quotes are from the family Christmas newsletter of some friends. For me, the overarching theme seems to be finding God, beauty, and ourselves in the darker seasons of the soul. Enjoy…
I have great faith in all things not yet spoken.
I want my deepest pious feelings freed.
What no one yet has dared to risk and warrant
will be for me a challenge I must meet.
If this presumptuous seems, God, may I be forgiven.
For what I want to say to you is this:
my efforts shall be like a driving force,
quite without anger, without timidness
as little children show their love for you.
With these outflowings, river-like, with deltas
that spread like arms to reach the open sea,
with the recurrent tides that never cease
will I acknowledge you, will I proclaim you
as no one ever has before.
And if this should be arrogance, so let me
arrogant be to justify my prayer
that stands so serious and so alone
before your forehead, circled by the clouds.
–Rainer Maria Rilke
To be able to be alone with oneself…is precisely a condition for the ability to live.
O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us: instead remember the fruits we bought, thanks to this suffering – our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness. Amen.
–Amazing prayer of forgiveness found on a prisoner at Ravensbruck concentration camp
I took them to the edge and they were afraid.
I took them to the very edge and they were very afraid.
I took them to the edge, and I pushed them, and they flew.
–19th century poet
No two lives are the same. We often compare our lives with those of others, trying to decide whether we are better or worse off, but such comparisons do not help us much. We have to live our life, not someone else’s. We have to hold our own cup. We have to dare to say: ‘This is my life, the life that is given to me, and it is this life that I have to live, as well as I can. My life is unique. Nobody else will ever live it. I have my own history, my own family, my own body, my own character, my own friends, my own way of thinking, speaking, and acting—yes, I have my own life to live.
No one else has the same challenge. I am alone, because I am unique. Many people can help me live my live, but after all is said and done, I have to make my own choices about how to live.
Overflowing heavens of squandered stars flame brilliantly above your troubles.
Instead of onto your pillows, weep up toward them.
There, at the already weeping, at the ending visage,
slowly thinning out, ravishing worldspace begins.
Who will interrupt, once you force your way there, the current?
You may panic, and fight that overwhelming course of stars that streams toward you. Breathe.
Breathe the darkness of the earth and again look up!
Lightly and facelessly depths lean toward you from above.
The serene countenance dissolved in night makes room for yours.
–Rainer Maria Rilke, Paris, April 1913
One learns the pain of others by suffering one’s own pain, by turning inside oneself, by finding one’s own soul… However painful, sorrow is good for the soul….The soul is elastic, like a balloon. It can grow larger through suffering.
Little minds are interested in the extraordinary; great minds in the commonplace.