Today I turned to Rainer Maria Rilke again…poet extraordinaire who, at such a very young age, somehow mystically knew the terrain of “dark” times and reminds us how to welcome it and indulge in it’s gifts. I have been feeling my life now as a journey into a foreign landscape. Somehow my days recently have felt strange and almost other worldly to me. I barely recognize myself anymore. This is, of course, indicative of what we call the underworld in the vision questing territory. That said, it’s an odd voyage holding underworld consciousness right inside my life in my cottage in the wild desert surrounds of my southern Utah home.
Some people think that the underworld is only visited when we are in some landscape that is far from, and unlike home…yet truly, the underworld is a state of consciousness unlike anything else. We are confounded by this kind of consciousness at times when we are immersed in ceremonies such as vision fasts, etc…when we think “those things only happen in ‘this’ kind of landscape or with this kind of people.” Truth be told….the underworld is more like a silent serpentine creature who creeps in at night and settles into one’s psyche in a way that that can be startling and most certainly unsettling … .rearranging everything towards what is more essentially real, though barely known....and it can happen almost any time.
In these times we suddenly look around and, as poet Adrienne Rich says “Things look at you doubly and you must look back and let them happen…”.
I could not really know what this time of pausing would entail while I was dreaming of it. . . .but it figures that when we take the majority of our distractions away, we see who and what is left . . . . Ourselves! YIKES!!! I can almost hear a ghostly voice saying, "this sabbatical is brought to you by 'In Your Face Productions'".
Thank you very much!!
So being challenged by the mirror is one aspect of this luscious time…and for sure an unprecedented ride when it comes to wanting to…or should I say, needing to look at our stuff. There is no avoiding the “stuff” here in this pause time…so it is rich and abundant too in this barren landscape.
The tension of opposing forces nearly swallows me at times…but I continue to show up and listen and when I'm brave enough, I turn the volume up on that tension …THIS . . .this is where new possibilities are born. I say all this with a trust that you will know that all this is what I did sign up for and though it can be fierce, I am willing and it is important and I'm really ok. On some quiet deep aware place, I am growing a more solid and wise me.
Let me share some of the words from Rilke that appeared before me when I opened his book... from Letters to a Young Poet;
“Imagine a person taken out of his room, and without preparation or transition placed on the heights of a great mountain range. He would feel an unparalleled insecurity, an almost annihilating abandonment to the nameless. He would feel he was falling into outer space or shattering into a thousand pieces. What enormous lie would his brain concoct in order to give meaning to this and validate his senses? In such a way do all measures and distances change for the one who realizes his solitude. These changes are often sudden and, as with the person on the mountain peak, bring strange feelings and fantasies that are almost unbearable. But it is necessary for us to experience that too. We must accept our reality in all its immensity. Everything, even the unheard of, must be possible within it. This is, in the end, the only kind of courage that is required of us: the courage to meet the strangest, most awesome, and most inexplicable of phenomena.
~Borgeby gard, Sweden, August 12, 1904
To have the wisdom of travelers of this terrain at my finger tips is reassuring and they help me remember what is lost to most of us.. Thank you Rainer!