Tuesday, February 17, 2015


A few months ago I listened to a fantastic podcast.  Krista Tippett and Joanna Macy discussed a variety of topics but mostly focused on the work of the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke.  I confess that I had not heard of him before, but I was enthralled with their discussion and his poetry.

The poem "Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower" captured my attention, and I listened to it several times.

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29

Rainer Maria Rilke

We are bells in the darkness. The harder we are hit, the louder we ring. What I love most is the final stanza. We are told to claim our space. We must affirm our existence and not leave it to chance. The world may ignore us, but that does not diminish our value. We may feel lost, battered, and alone, but we are connected to the earth, to each other, and to the Creator of us all.