If I could peer far enough down
a robin’s pulsing throat, would I see
notes piled there waiting to be flung
into freshness of morning?
If I close my eyes and burrow
my face into peony’s petals,
would I discover the source
of its scent, a sacred offering?
Can I plunge inside
and find a lifetime of words
spooled tightly inside my heart
ready for a tug?
If I dig beneath the bedrock
will I find love there,
solid like iron or does it flow like magma
filling in all of the empty spaces?
~Christine Valters Paintner “Origins”
I do not know what gorgeous thing
the bluebird keeps saying,
his voice easing out of his throat,
beak, body into the pink air
of the early morning. I like it
whatever it is. Sometimes
it seems the only thing in the world
that is without dark thoughts.
Sometimes it seems the only thing
in the world that is without
questions that can’t and probably
never will be answered, the
only thing that is entirely content
with the pink, then clear white
morning and, gratefully, says so.
~Mary Oliver “What Gorgeous Thing” from Blue Horses
Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.
leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs–leaving you
(it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.
~Rainer Maria Rilke “Sunset” (Trans. by Robert Bly) from The Soul is Here for Its Own Joy
We are born with one hand still grasping tight to the star-studded heaven from which we came, still dusty from creation. The other hand grabs hold of whatever it finds here on earth and won’t let go, whether the symphony of birds, the scents from the garden, the richness of relationship or the coldness of stone.
It can take decades, but our firm hold on heaven loosens so that we forget the dusty origins of our miraculous being. We tend to forget Who made us and why.
We can’t decide, tangled up in the threads of this life: dust of earth, stone heart? Or dust of stars, child of Heaven?
We are daily reminded by the Light which clothes us in new colors – early in the morning as it crests the eastern hills and late as it descends in the west. Heaven will still reach down once again to grasp our hand, making sure we know the way home.
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