Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer's end

We have reached the languid, late days of August, where the sun hangs lower in the sky and the color of the leaves begins to anticipate the next season.

Even in the midst of this ending, new things emerge. And an understanding begins to deepen.

The other day, I was reading Rainier Maria Rilke's "Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge." Perhaps surprisingly, even after 30 years of living here, my German is more or less up to it, without a dictionary.

In the very first page or two, I came across this extraordinary passage, which I will translate on-the-fly:

" I learn to see. I don't know why it takes place; everything goes deeper into me and does not stay in the place where it always used to end. I have an inner part that I did not know about. Everything goes there now. I don't know what happens there."

No comment, I find, could be closer to the heart of this thing we call inner work. These words could not be written by a person who did not understand what it is to discover one's own work within one's self. Not the "work" we read about on computer screens or sheets of paper. The living work of the skin, the lips, the tongue, the toes. This is where the words of life are written: in the body.

In the midst of the very real demands and cravings of the body, the artifices and constructions that emerge from personality and ego, the agitated turning of thought, and the confusion that outwardness constantly attempts to draw me towards, there is an organic anchor. There is the possibility of something real that grounds the merry-go-round.

Do you find it this way? It is in you. It is in all of us.

What is it in me that can hold me down and keep me from following the impulses, the temptations that I pray to the Lord not to lead me into? I'm not even sure why I pray that way- after all, any temptations I encounter are my own, and I am leading myself by the nose.

I see that every day.

It's this inner gravity that creates the possibility, and that is a force that can be trusted, even though it does not belong to me, and cannot be called at will.

It can, when it arrives, be cultivated -- it can be valued, be nourished, be treated with an intimacy. So when that weight arrives--after the search itself is surrendered, by Grace, and through mystery-- it can be relied on to anchor the situation.

Within this context, I constantly submerge within, and then emerge into, life itself. A life that is more solid and more definite than the imagination that owns me.

And as this happens--yes. Impressions fall ever more deeply into the body, into unknown places, where they feed parts that I am not even aware I have most of the time.

Slowly, the body, the Being, develops a taste for what is real. And this is not an outward thing. Every outward thing--every movement in the direction towards a material effort that grasps ideas, things, and circumstances like objects--defies and defiles the action that opens the heart and allows the world to come in to the body and be received.

So, it is hope, always to open the heart and allow the world to come into this body, and be received.

It is a great hope, one so rarely realized, in many senses -- yet, I have no wish to serve in any way.

All other service is merely in service to this service.

May our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.

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