A poem for all days

book-heartToday is my birthday. Since I’d like to make it to 100, I now have nearly as many birthdays left to celebrate as have been given to me. This may seem trite, but looking back it is clear that life is a series of lives, chapters, so to speak. And for these and their marked up, underlined and dog-eared pages, I am grateful.

I’ve mentioned before my admiration, actually, my love for the words of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. He has been recognized as the most “lyrically intense” German poet, and while my knowledge of German poetry actually begins and ends with Rilke (perhaps I need to get out more), I have to agree. The editors of the book, A Year with Rilke (which everyone should have in their library, by the way), have chosen a perfect poem for today, and for all days:

Lyrical intensity, indeed.

Being Ephemeral

Does Time, as it passes, really destroy?
It may rip the fortress from its rock;
but can this heart, that belongs to God,
be torn from Him by circumstance?
Are we as fearfully fragile
as Fate would have us believe?
Can we ever be severed
from childhood’s deep promise?
Ah, the knowledge of impermanence
that haunts our days
is their very fragrance.
We in our striving think we should last forever,
but could we be used by the Divine
if we were not ephemeral?
—Sonnets to Orpheus II, 27

Thanks for the hard stuff, too

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Even St. Francis looks crabby.

This morning as I drank my third cup of coffee, I stared miserably out the window at day 4 of the 3rd month of mess of snow/slush/ice/yuck on my not-even-close to being plowed street, with cars parked haphazardly on the opposite side, and in particular at the big white Tahoe parked at an angle well into the street at the base of my ice-floe challenged driveway. And, what about the other moron behind him who shoveled all the snow off his car into the street. Nice. Very nice. Oh and great, daylight savings is this weekend, that means getting up in the dark again. How I hate this! When will spring come? Why do I live here instead of California? And so on for at least another ten minutes, or more. 

 

Deep sigh. I decided to say a quick prayer of gratitude. Thank you God for my sweet husband, my wonderful daughters, my healthy parents and loving siblings, my friends, my puppy, my drafty but lovely home, my neighbors, for all the places we have lived, and all the relationships we have formed, for blue sky and sunlight in my kitchen, for mountain hikes, for crossfit, for, for, for… I felt better, but a sliver of misery insisted on interrupting the flow of grateful thoughts.  I had to either end the prayer or acknowledge my bad mood and the utter grossness that awaited me outside. 

 

Thank you…for the hard stuff. Thank you…for messes, and irritations, and bad drivers, and frustrations that appear uninvited all the live-long-day. Thank you God, because after a while all these things force me to consider my response, to react slowly, thoughtfully, kindly (not always, but I’m trying. Really, I am), to try to see some beauty, some pattern, or combination of colors to transform my crabbiness into something smooth and resilient. I am grateful for that. So, Thank you, God.

 

Now, are we done with winter?