Inspiration going into the week: Rainer Maria Rilke

Last week was a hard week. I was broken in every way – unable to find patience for my children and understanding for my husband, unwilling to do the work in front of me given me to do. This week, I’ve gathered up the broken pieces of myself to start again. This poem has always helped me to gather all the bits of myself back together when I feel shattered by inadequacy. May it do the same for you.

The Book of Pilgrimage, 11.2

I am praying again, Awesome One.

Your hear me again, as words

from the depths of me

rush toward you in the wind.

I’ve been scattered in pieces,

torn by conflict,

mocked by laughter,

washed down in drink.

In alleyways I sweep myself up

out of garbage and broken glass.

With my half-mouth I stammer you,

who are eternal in your symmetry.

I lift to you my half-hands

in wordless beseeching, that I may find again

the eyes with which I once beheld you.

I am a house gutted by fire

where only the guilty sometimes sleep

before the punishment that devours them

hounds them out into the open.

I am a city by the sea

sinking into a toxic tide.

I am strange to myself, as though someone unknown

had poisoned my mother as she carried me.

It’s here in all the pieces of my shame

that now I find myself again.

I yearn to belong to something, to be contained

in an all-embracing mind that sees me

as a single thing.

I yearn to be held

in the great hands of your heart–

oh let them take me now.

Into them I place these fragments, my life,

and you, God–spend them however you want.

Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours

translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy


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