“…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
–Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903 [Letters to a Young Poet]
c. Mary Kathryn Gough
c. Mary Kathryn Gough
Black and White Film
not sure, 100 or maybe 400
c. Mary Kathryn Gough
I will try at some juncture to say my own bit here, but for now let me say that this is one of the most inspiring quotes about relationship that I have ever come across and I highly recommend this work. There are chapters and chapters of these brilliant and soulful observations in the book, which is ridiculously worth reading (as are most Rilke writings…)
“…They hurry to a conclusion; to come, as they believe, to a final decision, they try once and for all to establish their relationship, whose surprising changes have frightened them, in order to remain the same now and *forever* (as they say). That is only the last error in a chain of errings linked fast to one another. What is dead cannot even be clung to (for it crumbles and changes its character); how much less can what is living and alive be treated definitively, once and for all. Self-transformation is precisely what life is, and human relationships, which are an extract of life, are the most changeable of all, rising and falling from minute to minute, and lovers are those in whose relationship and contact no one moment resembles another. People between whom nothing is accustomed, nothing that has already been present before ever takes place, but many new, unexpected, unprecedented things. There are such relationships which must be a very great, almost unbearable happiness, but they can only occur between very rich natures and between those who, each for himself, are richly ordered and composed; they can united only two wide, deep, individual worlds. –Young people–it is obvious– cannot achieve such a relationship, but they can, if they understand their life properly, grow up to such happiness and prepare themselves for it. They must not forget, when they love, that they are beginners, bunglers of life, apprentices in love, –must *learn* love, and that (like *all* learning) wants peace, patience, and composure!
To take love seriously and to bear and learn it like a task, this it is that young people need. — Like so much else, people have so misunderstood the place of love in life, they have made it into play and pleasure because they thought that play and pleasure were more blissful than work; but there is nothing happier than work, and love, just because it is the extreme happiness, can be nothing else but work. So whoever loves must try to act as if he had a great work: he must be much alone and go into himself and collect himself and hold fast to himself; he must work; he must become something! For believe me, the more one is, the richer is all that one experiences. And whoever wants to have a deep love in his life must collect and save for it and gather honey.’ “
A tree grows up into the light, oxygen-laden air from out of the dark, decaying remains of its parent. Forest fires are part of the cycle of a healthy forest. Ever noticed that serving someone makes your heart more glad than being served. In my own experience, dying to myself brings new vigour and life to my soul. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’ve also heard that people who have a near-death experience are filled with inexplicable thirst for life and growth and change ever-afterward.The death of a relationship can signal, for both people, the beginning of more genuine life than either has ever experienced before. The death of innocence can be the resuscitation of a truly child-like heart. Oddly, embracing the death in yourself and making mud to smear on its eyes can signal the birth of vision and the beginning of authenticity. It would seem that the dark, wormy soil in which we think to bury our dead is the self-same ground which produces sunflowers bigger than my head and pumpkins larger than I can hold, trees we can’t see the tops of and countless colorful foods full of nutrients to nourish growing bodies.
There’s no denying the tightly interwoven nature of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in reality. Not even just interwoven, but overlapping and constantly transformed. Teleologically, the yin and yang are not linear, but Whole, like the holy will of God. In the end, Life comes from out of Death, connection from out of solitude, and love from our recognition of sin, because Death, solitude, and sin cause us to recognize our lack of control and reach out for our Source in the unknown: to grasp Beginner’s Mind.
“They laid the stretcher near the riverbank… First a swarm of flies, smelling death, gathered round, followed soon by a flock of crows which began pacing nearby. But the mourners remained crouched by the river, and made no move to drive the scavangers away.” (144)
I am bird-boned; body twisted with suffering, hanging from a perch from which I cannot descend. I suffer.
And yet I live.
Somehow I cannot help but allow death to do its work in me.
And so I live.
I have wondered, often, about the river of life. Are its waters the unfettered flow of blood and tears within its banks?
c. all text Mary Kathryn Gough, 2005
Memo #5 ~ Simone Weil and Stringfellow
The nature of Love is, enigmatically, found in perpetual Act, defined in the solitude granted within the oneness of intimacy, elusive as vapor and yet as ever-present and powerful as well. The nature of Love is dialectical, overpowering and underwhelming at the same time, in the tiny details and thus almost unnoticable yet all-pervasive, both overflowing with Life and drawn to death, giving life and accepting death, transformative and restorative, peacable and yet bearing the Sword of Truth, both strong and broken. Power under control. Meekness. Like a body-builder holding a premature newborn gently in his arms.
Simone Weil’s conception of the madness of love and the role of consent within it made me want to dance and run and skip like a toddler. Her thoughts on relationship between us and God as being centered so around consent was such a monumental shift in language to me– she was not talking about choice, she was not talking about petition, about power, about free will; none of the structurally hierarchical language that dominates the conversation about our relating to God today even makes an appearance in her work as important or relevant. The relational language of love dominates in her writing, and rights are not the issue; sacrifice is. Listening, understanding, accepting, sharing burdens– it is the language of conpanionship: friendship. He has called us friends.
We are so easily side-tracked with squabbles and fighting (without His aid, I might add) the influences other than Him in the world. We feel we have the power ourselves to subvert Death, when really we need Him, because Jesus Christ is the Life. He is the Sword of Truth that will cut flesh from soul and expose the deceptions at work for Death in our lives for what they are. I feel that Simone would tell us to sit down with God and consent as consciously and wholly as we know how, as honestly as we can and with as much internal awareness and attention as possible, to His influence in our lives. She would tell us to open ourselves to Truth as an active Being, to trust its ways, mysterious though they are, and dedicate ourselves solely to Truth, who is was, and will always be God’s Word. The Word of Love.
Stringy wants us to be human in this world, in the midst of chaos, in the face of the fallen principalities and powers, to separate ourselves holy people by small efforts of Resistance to Death ~ most especially the death of conscience. Step by step, like Paul Farmer fighting all his life a long defeat with no logical hope of victory– and yet not as we might think, because Stringy believes the requirement of consistency not to be born of the biblical mind. . . this is simply because the spontaneous nature of Love is something only God can sustain, and only when we are truly and fully rooted in Him do we have the power to sustain it as well. That is not entirely possible in this world Love cannot happen, the Jerusalem church cannot happen, those moments of Life— they originate in Him. The thought that we have power over them is yet another deception that Death twists to his taste and our own failures serve to immobilize us with despair and make us forget where our power actually stems from.
Both Simone and Stringy wish for us to seek Christ. Simone says seek the Truth with rigorous intellectual honesty. Stringy says seek Life with the Word of God as He speaks. For both, the result is a familiarty with Love. Christ says if you know me, you know my father, and if you know my father you know me. There is nothing that sword cannot cut– if you’re not with Him you’re against Him, and if you’re not against Him, you’re with Him.
The 2nd Adam.
The Word Incarnate:
Humanly Lived Life.
We have to be ready to consent with Him.
~Marykathryn Huffman 10/6/05
c. Mary Kathryn Gough (Huffman, maiden)