The Country of Uncertainty

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Figure at a Window Salvador Dali

 

I love Rilke because he responded with integrity to the call he heard from the country of uncertainty.  We have no control over that call. We especially have no control over it in this time of pandemic.  I am, at least sometimes successfully, choosing to embrace the uncertainty and the lessons it offers me.  It’s a good end-of-this-life practice, I think. Luke’s story of the prodigal son is here

 

 

The Departure of the Prodigal Son

 

To go forth now
from all the entanglement
that is ours and yet not ours,
that, like the water in an old well,
reflects us in fragments, distorts what we are.

 

From all that clings like burrs and brambles—
to go forth
and see for once, close up, afresh,
what we had ceased to see—
so familiar it had become.
To glimpse how vast and how impersonal
is the suffering that filled your childhood.

 

Yes, to go forth, hand pulling away from hand.
Go forth to what? To uncertainty,
to a country with no connections to us
and indifferent to the dramas of our life.

 

What drives you to go forth? Impatience, instinct,
a dark need, the incapacity to understand.

 

To bow to all this.
To let go—
even if you have to die alone.

Is this the start of a new life?

New Poems

Rainer Maria Rilke in A Year with Rilke Translated and Edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows