I’m not a religious person. At least I try very hard NOT to be. Rather, I think of myself as spiritual instead. Rev. William Sloan Coffin Jr. (whom I’m not at ALL familiar with but who must have thought a lot like I do) once said:
A spiritual person tries less to be godly than to be deeply human.
I get that. But while I don’t go around thumping people on the head with Bibles, and I have NO problem missing church now and then, I still have a deep longing for companionship with the Creator of All Things, as I’ve come to think of our beginnings. To that end I usually have some kind of devotional or inspirational book that I read on a regular basis. Recently I bought “A Year With Thomas Merton.” I’d always wanted to read something by Merton. His combination of monastic spirituality and zen practices fascinates me. But I’ve found that at the end of these readings I’m thinking, “Huh?” The man’s mind is WAY over my head.
So I changed things up and bought “A Year With Rilke.” Rilke is a poet I love! And yet he, too, was a man in search of that deeper meaning in his life. Two days and I’ve bonded with the book already! The devotion for today was a poem he’d written — and you KNOW how I love poems!
Both a Breath and a Shout
I want to praise him.
Loud as a trumpet
in the vanguard of an army,
I will run ahead and proclaim.
My words will be sweet to hear.
My people will drink them in like wine
and not get drunk.
And on moonless nights, when few remain
around my tent, I will make music as soft
as a last warm wind that hovers
late and tender before the winter’s chill.
So my voice becomes both a breath and a shout.
One prepares the way, the other
surrounds my loneliness with angels.
(The Book of Hours III.11)
I loved the imagery of this poem. “…music as soft as a last warm wind that hovers late and tender before the winter’s chill.” His words make my soul quiver. BUT! Be that as it may, I just wanted to say I noted in my journal today that I’d made the switch in books and next thing I knew I’d written down my own poetic thoughts. Funny how Rilke always seem to call me to that place.
Breathing Out Angels
I’ve given up on Thomas Merton’s writings.
I’m not, I’ve realized, devout material.
Do I long to know the companionship of the Creator?
Absolutely yes! But I’m broken and
wandering off in the fringe darkness…
desperate to have meaning in my life,
something beyond mere biology. Otherwise,
what’s the point of being here?
And so I turn to Ranier Maria Rilke
who also sought that deeper purpose in life.
I’ve no idea if he ever found the Creator, or if
the Creator ever found him, though his words
often sound like the voice of an angel to me.
But my journey feels more like Rilke’s than Merton’s.
Rilke’s writings are much better suited to me, I think.
Or perhaps I’m much better suited to them. Who knows?
Either way I want my life to be both a breath and a shout.
But for right now I’m only a whisper — or even less, an echo —
incapable of shouting in triumph or breathing out surrounding angels.
Right now I feel as if I’m just holding my breath…and waiting…waiting…
Merton book — https://www.amazon.com/Year-Thomas-Merton-Meditations-Journals/dp/0060754729
Rilke book — https://www.amazon.com/Year-Rilke-Daily-Readings-Rainer/dp/006185400X/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8