Go to the Limits of Your Longing
God speaks to each of us as he makes us
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
– Ranier Maria Rilke
From The Book of Hours I, 59
I always return to Rilke. Rilke continually reminds me that we are most human not when we achieve clarity but when we fully embody the murky spaces of our lives. It is through the hard act of digging in the unknown that our soul deepens and reveals its true self. Remembering that takes a lot of the pressure off us perfectionists.
Parenthood. The murky unknown. My eyes almost burst feeling the word “Mother” come out of me. My midwife affirmed: birthing operates in its own time, outside of night and day. Outside of mealtime, sleep time, work time. Preparing for birth mentally, emotionally, and physically involves entering into this different way of thinking about ourselves in the world.
Mike and I watched a National Geographic video about the biological processes of the developing fetus, we’ve taken an in-depth birthing class, we’ve read much, and we’ve witnessed the visible changes in my body over the last nine months. But none of this education can explain the formation of soul in this new person we have created together.
I think about God speaking to our baby’s soul as Rilke describes during the creation of its body.
The how of it is confounding. Mike and I certainly have independent thoughts and separate bodies. We have contrasting kinds of brains that process the world very differently. Yet, in so many ways we are one. And now we have created another – distinct from us. I ask what makes you you and me me? How much of who we are is muscle mass, how much is the mind and how much is the spirit? All I can ascertain is that creating a child is so commonplace, yet so mystical.
One last poem. Far from finished, still in the reworking process.
To my child, for my parents
I look around my tender room and
Think of all the things
I want you, my child, to know
of me, of life
poetry art kindness
But then, I can’t help but want an easier
passage for you
Can’t you love science more than your mother?
Won’t you ask the questions
rewarded with money?
Tonight alone in my house
I cry the way blessed people do
I think of my parents guiding me
One foot in front of foot
You can do it artist,
you can make your world
In my thirty six years, I have made much
friends, pain, discoveries, films
a marriage a home
Now we have created you
with love, touch, biology
Tucked under skin
In a world so deep, I feel I should know it better
you are stretching me out
you are pushing us forward
When I scrub,
When I laugh,
When I write
Even as your father’s bow combs
the strings of his violin
my mother my father welcome me up
I pray I can usher you through
as they ushered me
Guiding one foot in front
Go create artist
I see you working. Look at what you’ve made.