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The “great hands of your heart”


I am praying again, Awesome One.

You hear me again, as words
from the depths of me
rush toward you in the wind. . .

It’s here in all the pieces of my shame
that now I find myself again.
I yearn to belong to something, to be contained
in an all-embracing mind that sees me
as a single thing.
I yearn to be held
in the great hands of your heart —
oh let them take me now.
Into them I place these fragments, my life,
and you, God — spend them however you want.

—Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God (trans. by Barrows and Macy)

I have been traveling a great deal these last few weeks, a bit more than my hermit self would like, but I have been walking in beautiful landscapes and listening for the sacred shimmering in my own heart.

I continue to be in the midst of a great threshold.  This season of my life seems to be for bold exploration and profound vulnerability.  I knew moving across sea and land to a faraway place would demand much from me and break me open again and again, but I could never have anticipated the ways this has unfolded and continues to do so.  All the anticipation in the world never prepares you fully for the experience of it. I am grateful each day for my monk practices to keep me present to the waves of anxiety and delight.  Breath is my constant companion, the sacred presence reminding me to embrace and release moment by moment.

Rilke’s poem is speaking to me in profound ways these days, especially this image of taking all my scattered pieces and fragments and offering them into the “great hands of your heart” and allowing God to spend them.  I am discovering new layers of brokenness, new dimensions of healing.  I am trying to be as true to what I hear as I can and sometimes the voices seem to be at cross purposes, demanding so many things from me.  Then I return again to my breath, I release my thinking, analyzing, and grasping mind, and return again to those great and holy hands.  I rest in the not knowing, even though I am desperate at times for clear answers.

I want to say more to you, I want to tell you more about the great adventures I have been on, but I am in the midst of another big discernment and want to hold off on naming too many things before they have become ripe in me.  So please forgive my lack of details for now, more is coming soon, I promise.  In the meantime, I welcome your prayers.

This is what it is like to be in the midst of birthing: messy, holding grief and joy together, the call to radical trust and unknowing, making space for anxiety and fear, sitting without adequate words to express what is stirring within, the paradox of letting go while welcoming in, and the ache that threatens to split me in two while also bringing everything within me together into something even more beautiful.  Being a monk in the world doesn’t mean living a life removed from daily concerns.  Quite the opposite, it means being plunged into their heart, staying wide awake, and welcoming what comes.

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