Heavy are the Seas

Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back into the earth;
for heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.

-Rainer Maria Rilke, from In Praise of Mortality

My dreams lately have been inviting me to enter into dark and uncomfortable places.  We have such a fear of darkness in our culture — a denial of death and a resistance to the work of grief , as well as resisting the gifts darkness offers to us.  I am slowly realizing that this is in part what my time at this cottage by the sea is about — moving into the literal growing darkness of the season, the darkness of some of my memories, and the shadow aspects of our culture — listening for wisdom and what they tell me about God and about myself.

I used to listen to Jane Siberry’s album frequently and was reminded the other day of the song quoted above, which along with “Calling All Angels” are my two favorites on that album.  Her words carried new meaning for me as I listened to it again after many years, on my ferry trip across the Puget Sound to the place of my hermitage.  I recognize I am called to bring back gifts from what I learn in this sacred place.  The poem from Rilke has appeared in different places three times in the last week, calling to me repeatedly to live into the weight of mountains and seas which surround me here.

What is the wisdom that is calling to you?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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7 Responses

  1. Thanks Gabrielle. Yes, it is indeed quite a paradox!

    Thank you Timothy. I like that description ofwisdom — the softer voice full of encouragement. I think its normal to wrestle with fear, its just how much we end up living our life from that place that matters. Sometimes the desire to live frm wisdom is enough to slowly attune you. And you are most welcome.

  2. Breathtaking photo. Loved your comments. Always so wise and provocative. I want to be open to the wisdom that is calling me. I try to listen but I’m not sure I’m hearing anything other than my own fears, doubts and hesitancies. Wisdom, I suspect, comes with a softer voice full of encouragement. The Rilke poem was beautiful. Thanks for the nurture you provide for the soul.

  3. Hello, Christine. I came over from Lucy’s. I am struck by the truth of what you say about our culture’s fear of darkness, denial of death and resistance to the work of grief – and this strikes me as another paradox, since we are actually living in a Culture of Death.

    Your photograph is very beautiful.

  4. eileen, I actually believe that we all carry unresolved grief, and am not sure it is ever fully “resolved.” For me, while I have processed the losses of my life, the fact that there are losses at all still causes me great sorrow as I think it should. The idea of a letter is beautiful, I may try that myself.

    Sue, very true about the paradox, life usually does emerge from the darkest of places.

    lucy, I can imagine how these two must be deeply connected, the loss of being disconnected from the fullness of the sacred for so many years. I loved your own post about this today. Thanks so much for the kind words.

    Thank you all for the very thoughtful comments!

  5. whenever i feel the pull of two seemingly unrelated things, i must begin to wonder how and if they are connected. as i read this post, i thought of unresolved grief and my new awareness of the sacred feminine. at first glance…unrelated. given a moment to think…my answer may be different.
    thought provoking as ever, christine. i think i understand that you are being asked to bring back the gifts you have found in your time at the cottage. i would say that you are already doing that as you share your journey with others. thank you.

  6. What is the wisdom that is calling to me? Seems to be rather along the lines of what you are saying – entering willingly into the darkness (as willingly as that can be, anyway) and coming back to report what was found there.

    I have found much joy in the darkness. Not least the paradox that life always comes out of death. We don’t want it to be so, but it is.

  7. I was told a while ago that I have UNresolved Grief. How could this be? Of course, I would much rather believe that I have a handle on things and have worked through them completely, coming to a place of resolution. I have worked for Hospice and have felt, in avery real sense, that my broken heart was healed from each experience I had with the dying … an unexpected gift. When I needed to focus on a relative who was dying last year, I stopped volunteering for Hospice. Yesterday I was speaking with a man after a meeting,who shared a powerful jewel of wisdom with me. Even though he has been in recovery for a long while, he continues to write a letter to his mother (who died years ago) on her birthday, every year. Maybe I can do this – for my mother, my sister, and my sister-n-law – and ultimately, for myself. God speaks to me through others, if I choose to listen. Great post, Christine.

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