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Saturday, April 11, 2020

April 11: "Go to the Limits of Your Longing" by Rainer Maria Rilke

“Go to the Limits of Your Longing”
by Rainer Maria Rilke from Book of Hours I59
Translated by  Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows

God speaks to each of us as 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.
Embody me.

Flare up like a 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.

The lines "Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final" was the central idea within my daily Calm meditation on Uncertainty. (By the way, I highly recommend that app. I've been using it for a few years now.) I liked the sentiment so much I decided to look it up and, guess what? Part of a poem! 

It appears in Rilke's collection The Book of Hours. Per Penguin Random House: "At the beginning of this century, a young German poet returned from a journey to Russia, where he had immersed himself in the spirituality he discovered there. He “received” a series of poems about which he did not speak for a long time – he considered them sacred, and different from anything else he ever had done and ever would do again. This poet saw the coming darkness of the century, and saw the struggle we would have in our relationship to the divine. The poet was Rainer Maria Rilke, and these love poems to God make up his Book of Hours."

If you're interested in reading more about that collection, here's a wikipedia article about it. 

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