Reflections by Jerry Webber

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Rilke Poem about Mary for Advent

And then that girl the angels came to visit
Rainer Maria Rilke

And then that girl the angels came to visit,
she woke also to fruit, frightened by beauty,
given love, shy, in her
so much blossom, the forest
no one had explored, with paths leading everywhere.

They left her alone to walk and to drift
and the spring carried her along.
Her simple and unselfcentered Mary-life
became marvelous and castlelike.
Her life resembled trumpets on the feast days
that reverberated far inside every house;
and she, once so girlish and fragmented,
was so plunged now inside her womb,
and so full inside from that one thing
and so full – enough for a thousand others –
that every creature seemed to throw light on her
and she was like a slope with vines, heavily bearing.

[Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. by Robert Bly (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1981), 35.]

This week I've been aware of Rilke's image of Mary as a "forest no one has explored, with paths leading everywhere." I've listened to those words for several days and allowed them to weave their way into me.

To be as open as Mary, as utterly unpretentious . . . paths would be everywhere. Everything would be a path. Wherever I walked, the path would become the ground beneath my feet. Walking on, I would make the path.

In saying, "Yes, let it be to me," Mary assented to a path "no one had explored," a path that led "everywhere."


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