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Already in our Blood

“I believe that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension that we find paralyzing because we no longer hear our surprised feelings living. Because we are alone with the alien thing that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away; because we stand in the middle of a transition where we cannot remain standing.

For this reason the sadness too passes: the new thing in us, the added thing, has entered into our heart, has gone into its inmost chamber and is not even there any more, is already in our blood. . . many signs indicate that the future enters into us in this way in order to transform itself in us long before it happens. . . 

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Last night as our celebration of Sabbath came to a close we journeyed across town to be out by the sea.  I mentioned on Friday that this Sabbath felt significant because of the New Moon and our own new commitment to deepening our practice of Sabbath-tending.  It also felt significant because the day falls between my father’s birthday (last Wednesday) and my mother’s birthday (this Wednesday).  I have been feeling a lot of sadness as I usually do during this time as I remember both my parents who have gone on to the Great Night.  I wanted to be by the sea, that vast sacred bowl of tears, to be with my sorrow and give it space to move and breathe.

The evening was cloudier than I expected but the sun reached down through the small opening in the sky to illuminate the water. My beloved and I sat on the sand breaking bread together and sharing wine, our own act of communion.  Two little girls went running into the water, at first tentatively wading, and then tumbling and giggling with more and more vigor.  Their delight was palpable and worked its way into my heart and then into my blood as Rilke writes.  I was feeling giddy from good wine and witnessing such playful abdandon.  Then a group gathered near us around a bonfire took out their drums and began beating a slow rhythm. I could not have asked for a more fitting soundtrack to the unfolding of the evening.  I thought of the poem Bette shared last week for the Poetry Party, an image that seemed to spread its joy out within me:

In a circle
we gather around the fire,
drumming down the sun–
rhythms pounding out to sea,
the night is hypnotized.

-Bette Norcross Wappner (b’oki) at Surimono Garden

I walked to the water’s edge alone, putting my feet in the brisk Sound as the drums continued to beat behind me.  I rested there for a long time, watching the sun spread color across the sky and pull the black moonless night in behind it.  I dreamed of swimming out into the sea, of being carried in its sacred womb, of diving into its depths to retrieve its treasure.  I dwelled there in the night holding the new thing that had entered into me.  I have a feeling it has been there asleep for a while now, awakened by the laughter of little girls, by the pulse of drums calling down the sun, by the memory of two people who formed me into being. There was my mother splashing in the waves, freed from her wheelchair. There was my father beating out the rhythm of his heart, freed from his addictions.  There I was alongside them, free.

What is the new thing already in your blood?  What do you need to awaken to it?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

(images all taken in Golden Gardens in Seattle)

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4 Responses

  1. Thank you all so very much, the post felt very meaningful to write and your words of affirmation mean a lot to me. And I love your own responses to the questions.

  2. this is so very lovely i can add nothing but my presence which feels deeply connected to that of which you speak. xoxoxoxo :-)

  3. Your photos, once again, capture well the essence of your words. I too love your reference of the “sacred bowl of tears.” When I’m at our cottage on the lake I feel that same expansiveness, that the water can hold soooo much.

    Perhaps what is new is my blood has always been there ~ me. What is new is my awareness of her, emerging now without shame, shedding pain and “shoulds.” Thank you for this invitation!

  4. Deeply gorgeous photos, Christine! Rilke’s writing is great for your evening of remembrance for your parents. I’m glad you experienced your own beach drumming and am pleased my poem resonated with you. I love your reference of the sea as a “sacred bowl of tears”.

    To answer your meditative prompts — I visualize lightening striking me to awaken what’s already in my life-blood — blasting away the stagnant cells that have been blocking the flow. Perhaps this lightening will strike when I am ready to take a chance and walk in the dark storm — barefoot, drenched, and facing my fears.

    Thank you for this most beautiful post.