I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m reading the devotional book A Year With Rilke. Coincidentally I’m also reading his book Letters to a Young Poet. Yesterday and today’s quotes in the devotional were from that second book. They gave me a lot of “pondering fodder.”
After more than ten years of having someone home with me during the day and virtually no time to myself, our son (who is in the process of getting a divorce, and lived with us with his wife before that) has finally gone to work full time. I have struggled and struggled with feeling like I live in a fishbowl. It’s made me nervous and claustrophobic. So since January 1st I have been over the moon to have most of my days to myself. I have very much needed this hiatus.
Tomorrow our daughter and her entourage are moving back to Utah from Maryland, and I have some pretty conflicting feelings about it. Not about their coming. We’re relieved. Our son-in-law works in D.C. for the Department of Education, and we have really felt it was time for them to get out of Dodge! He will be telecommuting on his job. And we’ll be thrilled to have our four grandkids near us for the first time ever. Still, I can’t help wondering if my new-found freedom is going to get gobbled up by other family responsibilities now.
A couple of my friends, and my sister in particular, think I should be ecstatic, and that there’s something very wrong with me because I’m feeling somewhat torn about it. In all honesty others seem to think what I’m feeling is kind of a selfish thing. I guess that’s why this quote from Rilke’s book to the young poet hit me yesterday.
Think, dear sir, of the world you carry within you . . . be it remembrance of your childhood or longing for your own future. Only be attentive to what is arising in you, and prize it above all that you perceive around you. What happens most deeply inside you is worthy of your whole love. Work with that and don’t waste too much time and courage explaining it to other people.
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made over the years is that I’ve neglected myself and my needs in my caring for others. And now I’m struggling with feeling guilty about wanting time for myself. And it makes me sad because I haven’t taken very good care of me. Rilke went on to say:
Consider whether great changes have not happened deep inside your being in times when you were sad. The only sadnesses that are unhealthy and dangerous are those we carry around in public in order to drown them out. Like illnesses that are treated superficially, they only recede for a while and then break out more severely. Untreated they gather strength inside us and become the rejected, lost, and unlived life that we may die of. If only we could see a little farther than our knowledge reaches and a little beyond the borders of our intuition, we might perhaps bear our sorrows more trustingly than we do our joys. For they are the moments when something new enters us, something unknown. Our feelings grow mute in shy embarrassment, they take a step back, a stillness arises, and the new thing, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it all and says nothing.
And so I’ve decided not to be ashamed because of how I’m feeling, but to allow myself to stay open and accepting of what I need and see what there is to be learned from all this inner turmoil. This is a HUGE issue for me. (Lordy! I almost hate to use that word anymore given the political climate!) And I’m more than a little apprehensive about how things will play out.
There are lots of transitions going on in our life as a family right now in addition to this move. Finally, after six years, our son is seeing a lawyer on Thursday to start divorce proceedings. He’s ready at last to move on with his life. Even so, I know this will be a difficult adjustment for him as well. He has never wanted to be the one to “throw in the towel” so to speak. Add to that our scrambling to get things paid off so his lordship can pre-retire possibly at the end of the year, and that’s a lot of life-changing stuff. Heaven help us!