Today, where I live, it is the first day warm enough to call my insides outwards into play. As I jump in the car and head out to nearby mountain trails, I find myself contemplating the particular tones, smells, tastes, colors and feel of the life-death-life cycles of spring. Rainer Maria Rilke's words, "being here is so much," echo through me as I wind my way through muddy fields and wooded paths, finally resting on a large boulder in the sunshine.
Five and a half years ago, almost to the day, I read a reflection by John O'Donohue on those same words. At that time I was contemplating the hues, textures and rhythms of autumn's life-death-life cycles. Each season shows me something new and perhaps like many people, the longer I live, the more I also contemplate death.
In honor of both spring now and autumn then (and all that I have lived and learned between the two), I have included a part of R.M. Rilke's poem as well as a reflection on said poem by John O'Donohue.
Enjoy and in-Joy, Jeni
Why, then, have to be human?
Oh not because happiness exists,
Nor out of curiosity...
But because being here means so much;
because everything here,
vanishing so quickly, seems to need us,
and strangely keeps calling to us...To have been
here once, completely, even if only once,
to have been at one with the earth--
this is beyond undoing.
~ R. M. Rilke ~
And from my reflections back in October 2013, John O’Donohue's "Death Transfigures Separation":
It is a strange and magical fact to be here, walking around in a body, to have a whole world within you and a world at your fingertips outside you. It is an immense privilege, and it is incredible that humans manage to forget the miracle of being here. Rilke said, “Being here is so much.” It is uncanny how social reality can deaden and numb us so that the mystical wonder of our lives goes totally unnoticed. We are here. We are wildly and dangerously free. The more lonely side of being here is our separation in the world. When you live in a body you are separate from every other object and person. Many of our attempts to pray, to love, and to create are secret attempts at transfiguring that separation in order to build bridges outward so that others can reach us and we can reach them. At death, this physical separation is broken. The soul is released from its particular and exclusive location in this body. The soul then comes in to a free and fluent universe of spiritual belonging.
photo1: S. Thompson, Mohonk Preserve, NY; April 2018.
photo2: D. Houle, Breakneck Ridge, NY; October 2013.