Monday, April 25, 2011

The Impermanence We Are

It seems
Our own impermanence is concealed from us
The trees stand firm, the houses we live in
Are still there, we alone
flow past it all, an exchange of air


Everything conspires to silence us
Partly with shame
Partly with unspeakable hope
                                                     -Rilke, The Second Duino Elegy


When I was writing the last chapter of my dissertation a handful of months ago the last two lines of this poem spoke volumes to me.  It intimated a communion among things that should not be together - yet somehow are.  The women in my study had histories of sever abuse and neglect as children, and then later in life alcohol addiction and abusive adult relationships.  As I attempted to make some sense of their narratives I realized the futility in attempting to parse, separate and to consign into discrete piles their experiences of shame and hope.  Now how these two lived together is a discussion for a whole other time (!) - but it mirrors a reality in my own life.   I grew up within a dominate narrative that divided the world into well ordered piles: faith -fear, gay-straight, sin-righteousness,republican-democrat, moral-immoral. These categories made sense and promised to make sense out of the world -  until I actually lived into the complexities of life.  The categories did not hold.  


It is within the confluence of shame and hope; fear, frailty and faith; fracturedness and longing; dying and breathing that we all find our way. In my faith tradition we all construct our histories between "my god my god why have you forsaken me?" and "Lo, I am with you always".  To attempt to live otherwise seems to be a distortion. Conspired to silence, hoping to sing, hungry to be heard. 


I think that Kierkegaard was getting at this when he said: 


What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music.... And people flock around the poet and say: 'Sing again soon' - that is, 'May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful."


It is integral to our own humanity and the communities we are a part of to be open to the formation of our lips but also to create deep space and compassion for our own hollowing and the hollowing of others who lips cannot hold the form.  

5 comments:

  1. Man, you sound really conflicted.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You haven't seen the half of it! Wait you have..

    ReplyDelete
  3. "What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music.... And people flock around the poet and say: 'Sing again soon' - that is, 'May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful."

    yes you referred this text to me a bit a go, and yes this is my concern about writing.

    also your post reminded me of Tara brach quoting some one saying, "wisdom tells memo am nothing; love tells me I am everything, and my life flows in between."

    dude if you're not some what conflicted you know you must be in some kind of denial or you've chosen to take the day off from deep thoughts. a degree of conflictedification seems the course of the human condition ... to me

    ReplyDelete
  4. what seperates me from then [childhood] to now [this moment] is only the expreiences and the knowing that 'this God' [?] surrounded and continues to surrounds me, protect and guide me to fully dig, feel, hate, and loVe the me i am; as i am being revealed... thanks matt.

    ReplyDelete