Small Stone for Jan. 21, 2014

badge-14-300x300For Jan. 21, A Year with Rilke offers “The Man WAYEARWRILKEatching (II)”  which suggests that our triumphs are over small things, and that this, in turn, “makes us small too.”

He goes on:

“The eternal and uncommon refuses to be bent by us.”

He then talks about wrestling with an angel, that even though we may be conquered, to have fought even so has strengthened us. The poem ends with these lines:

“…His growth is this: to be defeated
by ever greater forces.”–Rilke
At first, it sounded to me as if he was saying we cannot win the larger battles, and I thought about how easy it is sometimes to give up when things get tough. It gives us an excuse. We can’t say we failed if we didn’t actually try. Of course, that nagging little interior voice is later going to tell us differently. But abandoning a hard task seems easier at the time.

I think about how we bounce back again and again when we are fighting chronic illness. Each setback makes us want sometimes to just give up. And then from somewhere we find the strength and perhaps the courage to keep trying.

Jan. 21, 2014

“…His growth is this: to be defeated
by ever greater forces.”–Rilke

For years I watched you weaken
your body shrink to small, the slowing
of your heart, each backward slide
before your eyes closed one last time.

Country Road

Country Road (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Twice when darkness came
I turned toward the light. Still,
there is fear: how many miles left
along this road?


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