Circling the White Elephant

amusement-park-carnival-carousel-1403653

 

 

The Carousel (I)
Jardin du Luxembourg

Under its canopy, in the shade it casts,
turns a world with painted horses,
all from a land that lingers a while before it disappears.
Some, it’s true, are harnessed to a wagon,
but all have valor in their eyes.
A fierce red lion leaps among them,
and here comes ’round a snow-white elephant.
Even a stag appears, straight from the forest,
except for the saddle he wears, and, buckled on it, a small boy in blue. And a boy in white rides the lion,
gripping it with small clenched hands,
while the lion flashes teeth and tongue.
And here comes ’round a snow-white elephant.
And riding past on charging horses come girls,
bright-eyed, almost too old now for this children’s play.
With the horses rising under them, they are looking
up and off to what awaits.
And here comes ’round a snow-white elephant.

New Poems
in A Year with Rilke: Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

The Carousel (II)

It goes on and hurries to some end,
just circling and turning without a goal.
Flashes of red, of green, of grey whirl past,
solid shapes barely glimpsed.
Sometimes a smile comes toward us, and, like a blessing,
shines and is gone in this dizzying parade with no destination.
New Poems

in A Year with Rilke: Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

art-color-colourful-207665_kindlephoto-40842790

 

Lately, many of us have been feeling like passengers on a carousel, circling around a snow-white elephant in the room of our battered psyches. Whether the elephant is elections, confirmation hearings, Brexit, hurricanes or earthquakes, we can’t seem to step out of the fray.

Rilke offers a way out.  Let’s give the elephants their just due, then turn our attention to the smiles, the blessings we see as we circle.  This carousel of life has no destination.  It is how we ride the horse that matters.

I see a smile today in the example of a friend who is circling her third and possible final encounter with cancer. Her honest, intentional living is a blessing to me.  I am choosing to live in that light today and invite you to also bask in it.  I extend the merits of this meditation to you and to all sentient beings.

May it be so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:https://www.pexels.com/photo/carousel-with-lights-1403653/Photo by Mihai Vlasceanu from Pexels

Response photo: http://www.pexels.com

 

 

 

 

Leavetaking And Homecoming

4 of July

 

Can hopeless Americans regain hope by personifying their country as the Prodigal Son?….

Luke 15:11-32 (NIV)
The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided hiView from Washington Passs property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

 

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The Gift of Exploration
Dove that stayed in the open, outside the dovecote,
brought back and housed again where neither night nor day poses danger—
she knows what protection is….The other doves not exposed to peril do not know this tenderness.
The heart that has been fetched back can feel most at home.
Vitality is freed through what it has renounced.
Over Nothingness the universe bends.
Ah, the ball we dared to throw fills the hands differently on its return:
it brings back the reality of its journey.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Uncollected Poems in A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

4 of July

Response

I am depressed about the behavior of my country towards its most vulnerable citizens and towards  world citizens. These juxtaposed readings, however, give me hope that it is possible to return to more compassionate behavior.  We have flown the coup and out there we are testing the limits of some of America’s cherished values: independence and freedom.  Hopefully we will learn again to be interdependent.

While my country is away from itself, my job is to “become more of the change I want to happen,” to learn and be interdependent.  My job is to continue to hold up a mirror to my country about how selfish behavior affects others.  My job is to trust that my country can and will come home to itself.  My job is to welcome and forgive when she is ready to come home.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://sonorannews.com/2017/06/29/enjoy-cool-safe-fourth-july-scottsdale/

Dove: “God Through Anne Terri With The Holy Spirit <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/32289838@N04/39537614341″>Dove in Theo Sur Mer</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Between Seasons

 

 

 …when I lean over the chasm of myself—
it seems my God is dark and like a web:

a hundred roots silently drinking.
This is the ferment I grow out of.

from The Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke
trans by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy I, 3

 

I live in the Seattle area where spring is a mixture. One hour we are treated to sun and blossoms, blue sky, mountains and shimmering water. Literally, the next hour we are plunged into gloom and doom, whipped about by wind and drenched by an onslaught of rain, hail and snow. Natives, accepting this show as a struggle for primacy between winter and spring, don their coats and await the next hour.

I write on the Monday after Easter and the sun and blue sky reign. The blossoming trees surrounding my home call me to emerge from my writing-table and walk. Some traditions call this Emmaus Day and the expectation is to go walking where one can “meet Jesus along the way” and break bread with him, as described in the gospel story.

Our spring weather lately has awakened me to the experience of many who are stuck in the hour of doom and gloom surrounded by blossoms and blue sky and the expectation that they just get on with it and move into that hour of new life. They may be asking, “What is wrong with me that I cannot celebrate,” and they feel strangely out-of-place in this Eastertide.

Krista Tippett’s podcast, On Being, recently aired interviews with persons who experience depression and who professionally work with persons who straddle emotional seasons:

On Being https://onbeing.org/programs/parker-palmer-andrew-solomon-and-anita-barrows-the-soul-in-depression/
I found the podcast inspiring, comforting and helpful. If you do as well, be sure to pass it on.

May the promise of Easter enfold you,
Rita

 

 

Photo Credit: jcolman N00/3475838105″>The Olympic Mountains in morning sunlight via photopin (license)

Good Friday 2018

 

 

. . . Whom should I turn to,
if not the one whose darkness
is darker than night, the only one
who keeps vigil with no candle,
and is not afraid—
the deep one, whose being I trust,
for it breaks through the
earth into trees,
and rises,
when I bow my head,
faint as a fragrance
from the soil. [II, 3]

Rainer Maria Rilke from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macey