Rilke on Mystery and Awe (2)

In perhaps Rilke’s most famous lines, he writes:

I want to ask you, as clearly as I can, to bear with patience all that is unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were rooms yet to enter or books written in a foreign language. Don’t dig for answers that can’t be given you yet; you cannot live them now. For everything must be lived. Live the questions now, perhaps then, someday, you will gradually, without noticing, live into the answer.

~Rainer Maria Rilke, July 16, 1903, Letters to a Young Poet

In my mind, this is Rilke’s response to the inevitable mysteries of life.

Rather than being closed, he encourages us to “love the questions,” with anticipation, as if they were adventures yet to be experienced.

The advice Rilke gives to “live the questions now” is the best I know for addressing uncertainty in my life. Many times, when I have been unsure what I believed or unclear what to do, I have remembered this advice, with profit. I try to “sit” with the questions, with the hope that they will teach me something significant, while I wait expectantly for acceptance or resolution in an unknown future.


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