Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Rainer Maria Rilke Fear of the Inexplicable

But fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished

the existence of the individual; the relationship between

one human being and another has also been cramped by it,

as though it had been lifted out of the riverbed of

endless possibilities and set down in a fallow spot on the

bank, to which nothing happens. For it is not inertia alone

that is responsible for human relationships repeating

themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and

unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new,unforeseeable

experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope.

But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes

nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation

to another as something alive and will himself draw exhaustively

from his own existence. For if we think of this existence of

the individual as a larger or smaller room, it appears evident

that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, a

place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and

down. Thus they have a certain security. And yet that dangerous

insecurity is so much more human which drives the prisoners in

Poe's stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons

and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their abode.

We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about

us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us.

We are set down in life as in the element to which we best

correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of

years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we

hold still we are, through a happy mimicry,scarcely to be

distinguished from all that surrounds us. We have no reason to

mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors,

they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abuses belong to us;

are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. And if only we

arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us

that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now

still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust

and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those

ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into

princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses

who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps

everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless

that wants help from us.


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