Oh, not to be separated,
shut off from the starry dimensions
by so thin a wall.
What is within us
if not intensified sky
traversed with birds
with winds of homecoming?
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Uncollected Poems
This poem of Rilke’s beautifully speaks to the mystery and awe of humanity, a source often overlooked in many individuals’ quests. Indeed, by writing about “intensified sky,” Rilke suggests that there is something even more awe-inspiring within us than the cosmos itself. This reminds me of a passage from Augustine.
There is something truly amazing about us and within us. We would do well, as Augustine suggested, to acknowledge the wonder that “we are here, in these particular bodies, at this particular time, in these particular circumstances.” Our very aliveness is reason to be awestruck and mystified.
And yet, as Rilke said, we often are separated from this sacred dimension of ourselves, if only by a “thin wall.” We long to be whole and not divided, but this often requires some intentionality, vulnerability, courage, and maybe even work.
Deep within, we also find a message, according to Rilke. If we listen carefully, we may notice that the wonders within point us in the direction of home.