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)
Mr. Death, I am pleased to tell you, there
are rifts in your long black coat. Today
Rumi (obit. 1273) came visiting, and not for
the first time. True he didn’t speak with
his tongue but from memory, and whether
he was short or tall I still don’t know.
But he was as real at the tree I was
under. Just because something’s physical
doesn’t mean it’s the greatest. He
offered a poem or two, then sauntered on.
I sat awhile feeling content and feeling
contentment in the tree also. Isn’t
everything in the world shared? And one
of the poems contained a tree, so of
course the tree felt included. That’s
Rumi, who has no trouble slipping out of
your long coat, oh Mr. Death.
It is God’s love that speaks to me in the birds and streams; but also behind the clamor of the city God speaks to me in His judgments, and all these things are seeds sent to me from His will.
If they would take root in my liberty, and if His will would grow from my freedom, I would become the love that He is, and my harvest would be His glory and my own joy.
Thomas Merton,Seeds of Contemplation