Long life is a blessing, but even the longest lives are brief… maybe we overdo our concern for the length of our lives and give insufficient attention to the passion brought to whatever time was had.
The meaning and purpose of life are great mysteries, and in that light a very brief life, of only minutes, can be full and rounded. The soul has appeared in the flesh; then it returns to its home of origin.
A life has been lived.
Maybe we don’t achieve something grand and heroic in the days of our lives. Fame and achievement may not be our destiny. It may be sufficient to be here, to open our hearts, take in what is offered, make our contribution at whatever level is granted, and gracefully depart.
Gott spricht zu jedem nur, eh er ihn macht,
dann geht er schweigend mit ihm aus der Nacht.
Aber die Worte, eh jeder beginnt,
diese wolkigen Worte sind:
Von deinen Sinnen hinausgesandt,
geh bis an deiner Sehnsucht Rand;
gib mir Gewand.
Hinter den Dingen wachse als Brand,
daß ihre Schatten ausgespann
timmer mich ganz bedecken.
Laß dir alles geschehn: Schönheit und Schrecken.
Man muß nur gehn: Kein Gefühl ist das fernste.
Laß dich von mir nicht trennen.
Nah ist das Land,
das sie das Leben nennen.
Du wirst es erkennen
an seinem Ernste.
Gib mir die Hand.
God speaks to each of us as s/he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
(Rilke’s Book of Hours, I, 59)
Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
At Johan Nygaardsvold’s square, there is a beautiful monument with the names of the victims of the 22 July 2011 attack written in glass. It shone beautifully on the bright September day when I visited a few days ago. The buildings around the square are boarded up and will soon be demolished, they would have been the most desolate sight if it was not for the glorious light, the leaves, the reflection.
Can reflecting bring peace and healing ?
22 July 2011 – Day of Attacks
14.36 The centre of Oslo is disrupted by a huge explosion, damaging the offices of the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, and the country’s largest newspaper VG.
16.57 Two hours after the explosion in Oslo an unknown man, dressed as a police officer, arrives on Utøya island outside Oslo and travels to a youth camp organised by the ruling Norwegian Labour Party. He opens fire on the group of teenagers, who have gathered after hearing noises on the shoreline.
18.00 Police arrive on the island and proceed to apprehend the lone gunman, who has yet to be identified. The man does not resist arrest. Late in the evening Mr Stoltenberg, the Norwegian Prime Minster, gives a press conference in which he labels the attack upon the youth camp “especially brutal – an attack of cowardice.”
23 July Mr Stoltenberg speaks of a “national tragedy” as the death toll continues to climb. 77 people are eventually reported as having lost their lives, 69 from the Utøya shootings. Anders Behring Breivik, 32, is identified by Norwegian media as the man arrested by police. Mr Stoltenberg indicated that Breivik was part of a larger organisation, and not acting alone.