Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
-David Wagoner, from Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now 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.
-Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet
I Feel Sorry for Jesus
People won’t leave Him alone. I know He said, wherever two or more are gathered in my name… but I’ll bet some days He regrets it.
Cozily they tell you what He wants and doesn’t want as if they just got an e-mail. Remember ‘Telephone’, that pass-it-on game
where the message changed dramatically by the time it rounded the circle? Well. People blame terrible pieties on Jesus.
They want to be his special pet. Jesus deserves better. I think He’s been exhausted for a very long time.
He went into the desert, friends. He didn’t go into the pomp. He didn’t go into the golden chandeliers
and say, the truth tastes better here. See? I’m talking like I know. It’s dangerous talking for Jesus. You get carried away almost immediately.
I stood in the spot where He was born. I closed my eyes where He died and didn’t die. Every twist of the Via Dolorosa was written on my skin.
And that makes me feel like being silent for Him, you know? A secret pouch of listening. You won’t hear me mention this again.
-Naomi Shihab Nye, from You & Yours
Let This Darkness Be a Belltower
Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you. Let this darkness be a bell tower and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength. Move back and forth into the change. What is it like, such intensity of pain? If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night, be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses, the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you, say to the silent earth: I flow. To the rushing water, speak: I am.
-Rainer Maria Rilke, from Sonnets to Orpheus
In the eyes of men he falls, and in his own eyes too. He falls from his high place, he trips on his achievement. He falls to you, he falls to know you. It is sad, they say. See his disgrace, say the ones at his heel. But he falls radiantly toward the light to which he falls. They cannot see who lifts him as he falls, or how his falling changes, and he himself bewildered till his heart cries out to bless the one who holds him in his falling. And in his fall he hears his heart cry out, his heart explains why he is falling, why he had to fall, and he gives over to the fall. Blessed are you, clasp of falling. He falls into the sky, he falls into the light, none can hurt him as he falls. Blessed are you, shield of falling. Wrapped in his fall, concealed within his fall, he finds his place, he is gathered in. While his hair streams back and his clothes tear in the wind, he is held up, comforted, he enters into the place of his fall. Blessed are you, embrace of the falling, foundation of the light, master of the human accident.
- Leonard Cohen, from Book of Mercy