Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?
~Mary Oliver from The Swan
This laboring of ours with all that remains undone,
as if still bound to it,
is like the lumbering gait of the swan.
And then our dying—releasing ourselves
from the very ground on which we stood—
is like the way he hesitantly lowers himself
into the water. It gently receives him,
and, gladly yielding, flows back beneath him,
as wave follows wave,
while he, now wholly serene and sure,
with regal composure,
allows himself to glide.
~Rainer Maria Rilke, “The Swan”
This is the time of year when we look at making changes in how we live our lives. We want to start fresh as the calendar turns over; we want to become “new” too. Maybe it is giving up an old destructive habit or adopting a new healthier routine, but it means giving up something familiar and becoming uncomfortable, at least for a while.
I seek out the graceful gliding part of life and not the lumbering awkward part. I’d like to say I live out equal measures of both, but I don’t – I’m lumbering and awkward too much of the time due to my own choices. It is difficult to navigate the waves of life when in “lumbering” and “laboring” mode, as wave follows wave, some gentle and lapping, others overwhelming and crashing.
I know what grace looks and feels like, floating atop whatever wave hits me, to stay on the surface and not get soaked through.
I pray that whatever comes, this stretching light over the waves, will fill me with its beauty and grant me grace to glide.