Flare Up Like a Flame

Quiet Pilgrim

Walking

This week Ranier Maria Rilke has captured me by the beautiful and mysterious tone of his poem “Go to the Limits of Your Longing” from the Book of Hours:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Longing is one of those things that is both painful and exhilarating—and therefore difficult to understand. By painful, I mean the tension of living in the already, but not…

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