Your first word of all was light,
and time began. Then for long you were silent.
Your second word was man, and fear began.
which grips us still.
Are you about to speak again?
I don’t want your third word.
Sometimes I pray: Please don’t talk.
Let all your doing be by gesture only.
Go on writing in faces and stone
what your silence means.
Be our refuge from the wrath
that drove us out of Paradise.
Be our shepherd, but never call us –
we can’t bear to know what’s ahead.
A friend handed me this page from Rilke’s Book of Hours this morning.
It comes to me on the heels of experiencing Malick’s The Tree of Life again yesterday. Each time I watch and take in the impressionistic, emotional, spiritual feast for me that is The Tree of Life, it sobers me, takes me to very deep places that are wordless.
As I find myself increasingly ready to be absorbed back into the essence of all things, I find myself quite happy with “all his doing being by gesture only.”
We are surrounded by incessant chatter in Christian circles of hearing this or that from the Lord.
Is it greater intimacy? Wilder imagination? Presumptious claims of divine backing of our act?
I experience much silence.
With Rilke I wonder, “Do I want your third word? And the one after that? Can any of us bear what’s ahead?” And to what extent is the Divine Mystery at the center of all things echoing right back to us, “Please don’t talk”? So much we think we have to say, and yet the deepest and most intimate of relationships banish the cacophany of chatter and are filled with the rich language of wordless gestures. Aren’t they?
I see his gestures everywhere, the writing in faces and stone.
Gestures not leading me to launch grand and glorious designs. That seems to be the glory for others. These seem not to be gestures inciting plans of action and aggressive movements, but gestures pointing home, where striving and wrestling cease. Where the way of grace overtakes, embraces, caresses the way of nature.
Gestures quietly leading to the place where yet abides the pillared graces of faith, hope and love.
The place of refuge from the wrath.
Gestures in the silence.
And here I sitting composing words for the wordless.