Among these winters

Photo by Ray Hennessy via Unsplash.com

Photo by Ray Hennessy via Unsplash.com

Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it all will your heart survive.

Be forever dead in Eurydice-more gladly arise
into the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.

Be-and yet know the great void where all things begin,
the infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.

To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb
creatures in the world’s full reserve, the unsayable sums,
joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Stephen Mitchell

As always, the poet says it best. I am writing this with a blanket of snow outside our York home, and I’m burrowed in with my hot tea and books and silence. It’s a healing solitude, and through the enchanting communion of words I am visiting with many souls, living or passed from this earth, whose company cuts through the loneliness. Thank you for being among them.

I wish for you this winter the ability to celebrate the momentary days in joyful, perfect assent. Spring will be here before we know it.

35 Comments

  1. Carolyn

    Hi Julia, boy has it been cold. We had about an inch of snow Friday and we still have some in our back yard. I have been out once and that was to go to church. The cold seems to get to me this year. Thursday it is suppose to get to 70, you never know what the next day will bring. We went to see Jennifer and family over the holidays, I made the trip fine, just happy to be back home when it was over. You all have been in my thoughts and prayers. Love you all and sending hugs for you. Take care and be careful when you have to be out in the snow.

    • Hi Carolyn, I was mostly snowbound today but my sweet neighbors were outside shoveling my driveway and walkways without even being asked. One of them even brought me a lovely gift set of teas to enjoy. I am so thankful for good neighbors. Yep, the weather is crazy. It was 19 today but it is supposed to be getting up near 50 tomorrow. No complaints from me about that. I’m glad you enjoyed your holiday visit and did well with the trip. It’s always great to get home, though, isn’t it? Thanks so much for keeping us in your prayers. We are surviving on prayers right now. I still have “attacks” of grief at unexpected moments and it’s pretty horrible until it passes. Stay warm and enjoy winter as much as you can! I’m sipping hot tea right now and wishing you were here to share it with me. Love to you and Terry.

  2. ((((Julia))))

    • 🙂 ❤

  3. I’m a little jealous of your snow – we are sloshing about in the rain here.

    • Oh my — I wish I could send you some of our snow! It really is beautiful. All the more so when one doesn’t have to get out in it.

      • Yes, I only like snow when I don’t have to go anywhere… at least rain rarely makes driving impossible.

  4. MaryAnn Clontz

    This, me dear, is a thought-provoking poem with layers of depth, which may elude one at first reading. The “be” parts are worth pondering. In our harried lives, we often think “do” is best, when “be” is vital.
    He (the Lord) says, “Be still, and know that I am God”. Psalms 46:10.
    I am very happy that you are able to “be” & know God is with you in your healing.
    I feel blessed to call you Friend! Hugs to my Matt!

    • Mary Ann, I have read the poem several times now and I agree that there are layers and layers to it. Of course it was the opening lines that drew me in right away. I feel blessed to call you Friend too! Isn’t it great how it works that way? Matt always loves your hugs, and we think of you every day because your “mug rugs” are right there to remind us. 🙂 ❤

      • MaryAnn Clontz

        Aw!

        • That’s Matt’s favorite phrase, since he was very young! 🙂

  5. Julia, I wish I could come and visit you even though solitude is wonderful! I think about you often! 🙂

    • Thank you Patsy! I wish you could come and visit too, but I enjoy our “virtual visits” here, and so appreciate your thoughts & presence here.

  6. Also, thanks for sharing the beautiful fox photo and poem!

    • You’re welcome. Aren’t foxes beautiful? They might slightly edge out tigers in my “most beautiful animal ever” competition. The photographer has several lovely photos of this (or a similar) fox at his website. I need to read more of Rilke’s poetry. I seem to like everything by him that I come across.

      • They are beautiful! Did you happen to see the one I painted for Sherri Matthews? It’s on my blog and I think I titled it Sherri’s Fox. Anyway, they are so cute! I want to paint a tiger someday too! I haven’t heard of Rilke. I’ll have to look for some of his poetry. 🙂

        • Patsy, I’m so glad you told me about the picture. I’ve been way out of touch with other blogs for quite awhile now. I went back to your blog and enjoyed looking at your artwork, but had to search for the one about Sherri’s Fox and I’m so glad I found it. You did a great job at capturing the fox in motion. It lead me to Sherri’s blog, which I also enjoyed. Thanks so much for letting me know so I could enjoy your blog and hers too.

          • You’re welcome, Julia! I appreciate your visiting my blog and I’m glad I was able to lead you to Sherri’s. She is a great friend of mine now! Wonderful lady as you are also! 🙂

  7. Harry Sims

    Thank the Lord for this day and for all that is in it.
    My times are in His hand.
    My soul rests with Him, my Anamchara.

    “ …the penguin paddled back! And since then, the bird, nicknamed Dindim, has swum thousands of miles each year to visit the retiree—spending eight months with him before returning to the coasts of Argentina and Chile. The man, who says that Dindim grows more affectionate with each visit, declares, “I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me.” – Our Daily Journey.
    http://www.ourdailyjourney.org/2017/01/09/of-penguins-and-people/

    Just don’t ask me why because I don’t know why but stories and observations like this about injured animals pierce me to my heart’s depth.
    Ever since I visited a sanctuary for wounded eagles in Sitka Alaska nearly 20 years ago my sense of compassion has sometimes been quite painful.
    Within the last two weeks I witnessed a juvenile squirrel which had been injured and was flailing about in the roadway desperately trying to survive and it hurt my soul.

    Perhaps I am coming to understand unity.

    I’m Harry, grateful alcoholic and devoted twelve stepper.

    • Harry, as a child (and sometimes even now) I would lie awake worrying about an animal I had seen suffering, dying or already dead. Seeing injured or neglected cats and dogs touches me most, but seeing any animal suffer is terribly sad. The injured squirrel would have upset me too. I would be wishing I had never seen it. Jeff was so attentive when he mowed the lawn so as not to run over any tiny baby animals (he often spotted turtles and rabbits), and if he saw an animal that seemed to be suffering, he would stop what he was doing and have me call wildlife rescue to see what, if anything, could be done. I have a long and “happy ending” story about one such incident, but I won’t go into it here.

      I believe there are a great many of us who are moved by the suffering of animals. Perhaps it’s because they often seem so helpless, or because those who have not spent time around them don’t understand how intuitively many of them connect with humans. In any case, I am grateful that people have compassion for animals. The only time it bugs me is when I talk with someone who loves animals but seems to care nothing about humans, even innocent and helpless humans. In most cases, though, I think our connections with animals sharpen our compassion for all living things, including other people. Thanks for sharing this sweet story.

  8. Good morning, Julia! You’re right – the poet says it best. I couldn’t even paraphrase, and as mentioned, there are so many layers that a whole book would never capture the full meaning and essence.
    Last night I was feeling a bit melancholy, but instead of dwelling on all the people that I know that are physically suffering or have recently died or had significant set-backs in quality of life, I started considering all of the living people for whom I am grateful. (You were right near the top of the list!)
    I slept and awoke more peacefully than I had recently. Perhaps in part I had “cancelled the count,” or at least balanced my thinking toward a better perspective.
    Thank you for sharing this poem.

    • Susan, I’m so glad you found the poem helpful. Rilke has packed so much into those lines; with each reading I see a bit more. I will try to practice your very good strategy of remembering all the people still here to receive our love and attention. It’s tough to be present with people who are suffering in various ways, but it’s so important to remember that underneath all the trials and setbacks, they still have gifts worth celebrating. There are always more things for which to be grateful, than there are sorrows and setbacks, even though the latter tend to demand more of our attention. Also glad you got some good sleep — hardly anything I can think of helps us through the following day as effectively as a good night’s sleep!

  9. Sheila

    Hi Julia, been thinking of you and hope you knew through our “southern sister antenna” that I’d get here to the winter verandah, with our nice warm fire (imaginary) to back up to and keep warm! I’m guilty of getting too close sometimes because it feels so good! 🔥Your personal words that accompany the beautiful photo and the poem are once again thought provoking. I also enjoyed reading the related blogs that were included! Please tell Matt that I was thinking of him today and wondering if he has a favorite character that he’s enjoying now. Better make some sense of this mess in my kitchen. Our refrigerator went out yesterday and New can’t be delivered until Thursday. I don’t think I’d make s good “pioneer woman”! 💛

    • Sheila, I wouldn’t make a good pioneer woman either. In fact, I would no doubt set myself on fire from sitting too close to the hearth. Pasha used to lie against the base of our our (glass enclosed) gas fireplace so long that I would start to smell his fur burning and push him away. He and I both liked to be very close to heat sources. Hope your fridge arrived but if not, you can always store stuff on the verandah! We could help ourselves to goodies without even walking inside. Speaking of goodies, we have all but demolished those FABULOUS chocolate Moravian cookies you sent. They keep getting better and better. The smell alone is fabulous – every time I open the tin (which I just did, with very few cookies left inside) I get a wonderful dose of aromatherapy. Amy took the insert from the tin so she could order some of her own. That Mrs. Hanes knows her cookies!! Thanks for being here with us…your southern sister antenna is working in top form because I really needed our Verandah time this week. ❤

  10. I absolutely HAD to share this breaking news story line from “The Onion”: Trump grants CNN the permission to cover its own sedition trial. (now get up from rolling on the floor, laughing, and get on with your own journalism – as in “Have your own vacation!”)

    • With an upcoming Trump presidency, the Onion appears destined to seal its reputation as America’s most trusted news source. I trust them absolutely to guarantee at least a few laughs every time I read the news there. That whole timeline was hilarious. This might have been my favorite part: “January 2017: Other politicians realize there nothing stopping them from acting this way either.” Thanks for some much-needed humor.

      • Takes a hilarious mind to, in all circumstances, recognize hilarity.

        • I was trained by the best.

  11. Julia, God bless.
    -Alan

    • Thank you, Alan.

  12. LB

    Julia, I can just imagine you all snuggled up with book and tea, with peaceful snow outside. A well deserved respite

    • Thank you, LB. Hope you are staying warm and enjoying winter in the beautiful mountains.

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