This is one of my favorite Rilke poems, in part because he writes of a woman.
“Wer sens Lebens viele Widersinne”
She who reconciles the ill-matched threads
of her life, and weaves them gratefully
into a single cloth –
it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall
and clears it for a different celebration
where the one guest is you.
In the softness of the evening
it’s you she receives.
You are the partner of her loneliness,
the unspeaking center of her monologues.
With each disclosure you encompass more
and she stretches beyond what limits her,
to hold you.
When I first read this poem, it felt autobiographical, as if Rilke had been privy to my life.
When my kids were small, my life resembled nothing so much as a hall full of “loudmouths,” all of which I had given birth to, married, or simply allowed to take up space in my mind. I had little time to start mindfulness practices, but I began anyway. Rising in the dark to journal, walk, meditate, or pray were my attempts to create a silent space, a private place, for God to enter my world and partner with me. To this day, we are still weaving the “single cloth” of my life together, because the “ill-matched threads” never stop coming. Change is constant, inevitable and rarely what we have planned, yet what can we do? We can hold on tight, drop the threads, tie ourselves up in knots, or at best, if we follow the warp and weft of Love, we can make something beautiful.
At the mid-point of Holy Week, this poem also reminds me of Mary Magdalene, the often demonized, sometimes revered, “Apostle to the Apostles.” Though rarely mentioned in church services this week, her face was one of the last Jesus gazed on before his death and the first he saw on the morning of his Resurrection. Surely she was with him today and each step of the way this week.
I only need to read the last stanza of this poem again. When you are gifted a transformative Love like that, where else would you be?