Evening Poetry, November 3

The Last Supper

by Rainer Maria Rilke

They are assembled–astonished, panicked–

around him, who like a sage concludes himself

and who withdraws from those he’s gathered

and who ungraspably flows past them.

The old solitude comes over him,

which reared him for his deep action;

now he will wander through the olive woods again,

and those who love him will flee before him.

He has summoned them to the last meal

and (as a shot scatters birds from the wheat)

he scatters their hands from the loaves

with his word: they fly up to him;

they flap, terrified, all around the table

and seek a way out. But no use: he

like a twilight hour, is everywhere.

You can find this poem in The Book of Images: Poems / Revised Bilingual Edition (English and German Edition)""“>The Book of Images.

Evening Poetry, May 26

This poem can be found in The Book of a Monastic Life in Rilke’s Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Only as a child am I awake

and able to trust

that after every fear and every night

I will behold you again.

However often I get lost,

however far my thinking strays,

I know you will be here, right here,

time trembling around you.

To me it is as if I were at once

infant, boy, man, and more.

I feel that only as it circles

is abundance found.

I thank you, deep power

that works me ever more lightly

in ways I can’t make out.

The day’s labor grows simple now,

and like a holy face

held in my dark hands.

I, 62

Evening Poetry, May 19

(From Book of Pilgrimage in Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God by Rainer Maria Rilke)

In deep nights I dig for you like treasure.

For all I have seen

that clutters the surface of my world

is poor and paltry substitute

for the beauty of you

that has not happened yet…

My hands are bloody from digging.

I lift them, hold them open in the wind,

so they can branch like a tree.

Reaching, these hands would pull you out of the sky

as if you had shattered there,

dashed yourself to pieces in some wild impatience.

What is this I feel falling now,

falling on this parched earth,

softly,

like a spring rain?

II, 34

For Holy Saturday

I wrote this poem several years ago as I attempted to imagine how the followers of Jesus might have been feeling after his death.

In Between

Where did you go

when you finished, exhaled?

Your last breath, a whisper,

brought madness to earth,

tore sky and ground. Time

stood still, dead walked.

Friends, stunned with your leaving,

stayed close to what remained

of you, your spirit unreachable.

We waited, broken, in silence

for what? We did not know.

A shroud of sorrow

bound us tightly.

We waited and wondered

where did you go?

by Kim Pollack © 2019

The Hardest Promises to Keep

I don’t know about you, but I have a lifetime of breaking promises to myself. Of telling myself one thing and doing another. Of agreeing on a course of action only to face the unpleasantness and lack of novelty of follow-through and fizzle out.

Last summer, I was made aware of this while listening to a podcast by Rachel Hollis. She talked about how so many people are in the habit of starting and stopping things, about the lack of commitment to our own priorities, about how breaking promises to yourself makes you not trust yourself. And how no one would flake out on another person the way we often flake out on ourselves. That idea–of keeping promises to myself–was one I hadn’t really thought of before. I don’t know why.

Although I neither blame my parents or the Christian culture I was raised in, my life–the way I think and live– has been affected. Sometimes it’s been very positive, sometimes not. One of the “nots” would be this rather irksome saying my mother used to quote to me when I was a child: “Jesus first, Others second, and You always last. That spells JOY!” Sorry, Mom, but it ain’t necessarily so!

The whole concept of living to serve God and others is a noble one and I am not suggesting that now I have seen the light and only serve myself. I believe that a human who lives only for self winds up feeling empty and dissatisfied, lonely, and worthless. We all need to be investing part of ourselves in that which is greater than us, in that which may not serve us, but which will benefit others.

But in the past few years, I have begun to see how damaging the above concepts can be for women who think that God wants them to spend their entire lives putting aside their needs and/or desires, because someone else’s needs or wants must always come first. And as much as I hated to admit it, I had done a good deal of this as well. Until age 39 when I fell apart. My experience is not so unusual, really. As Brendon Burchard says, “Living incongruent to what you believe is the greatest form of unhappiness.”

So after I had my mid-life crisis, as it’s aptly called, I reassessed everything. I began to catch myself when I would say yes to something that I really didn’t want to do. I had to remind myself often of the Jen Hatmaker quote, “If it’s not a Hell, yes, it’s a No.” And this past year, I have begun to deal with my lack of consistency in many areas of my life and make myself do what I told myself I was going to do.

Commitment to myself is tough, but I know it is right! That means if I have time scheduled to write or work or exercise and one of my kids wants me to drive them last minute, or a friend wants to come over, I have to say no. It’s hard to disappoint people–I hate it!!! But I’ve had plenty of practice disappointing people in the past few years between leaving church, getting a divorce, getting remarried and living differently than I did before. (I am starting to warm up to the idea of writing more about this difficult season I’ve been in.)
If you have a habit of breaking promises to yourself, it’s going to be a process to turn things around. Begin with something small, but be on the lookout for places in your life where you constantly shove yourself aside to please others. You put things off, change your plans, let personal growth and wellness goals fall by the wayside because someone else is demanding. Again, I’m not saying live to please only you, but there has to be some place for you in this life. “Your one wild and precious life” as Mary Oliver says. I will leave you with her poem The Summer Day. Happy Monday, friends!

The Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper I mean–

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand.

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life.

–Mary Oliver

What to Tell Yourself When You Feel Like a Failure

Let me be honest: it is a challenge to walk the wellness path I encourage others toward. It takes lots of time and dedication to the dreams I want to manifest. It takes willpower, grit, gumption, tears, motivation from many sources and plenty of failing forward. I have many areas I still want to master. In the spirit of transparency, here are some of the things I am working on this year:

I need to be dedicated to daily writing, daily meditation and yoga, daily practice of my instruments. I have an irregular schedule, so I’m thinking that the best way to make these things happen are to make appointments in my calendar app and then follow through. I am not a morning person and do not think clearly enough to write first thing, except morning pages, perhaps. But maybe yoga would work in the morning.

Here is the emotional/mental/spiritual aspect of myself I need help with the most: being grounded in my body enough that I can be calmer, less anxious. I startle easily, am a “Nervous Nellie” as Alan calls me, and am often on the verge of panic. I am taking an herbal blend and use essential oils in the diffuser to help with this, but there are more pieces of this puzzle to be found.

The relational and personal growth-type of area I most need help in: being able to stop what I’m doing and focus on the other person, whom I love, without being preoccupied with work and wishing I wasn’t interrupted. It is really hard for me to change gears, let go of my plan, and be present with someone when I think I really need to get back to whatever I was doing.

I may fake it as well as I can on the outside, but inside, I’m fuming at having to live someone else’s plan for myself. Sometimes I can tell them that now isn’t a good time, but plenty of other times, I need to let this be my life: giving my time, energy, love and attention to the other person.

After all my years serving at church, reading books on selflessness and about being more like Christ, I wonder if I’ve progressed at all? I still like what I like and although I can be a grownup and do all the responsible, giving things on the outside, on the inside I am often willful and rebellious, smart-mouthed and sarcastic. It’s a good thing we can’t hear each other’s thoughts!

So, what do I tell myself? Do your best today! That is my aim everyday, as I’m sure it is yours. We aim to be our best selves, we sometimes miss the mark, but we reassess and keep going after the goal.

How do we treat ourselves after falling on our faces? Plenty of negative, critical self-talk, right? To care for yourself, though, and to promote inner emotional and mental health, you need to be kind to yourself. If you, like me so often, tend to beat yourself up with your thoughts and inner talk, then switch it up! Be encouraging. Find things to compliment about yourself. Remind yourself that mercies are new every morning. Tell yourself “I love you and you deserve to be loved”.

For Lent this year, I gave up negative self-talk about my body and my actions. Every time I catch myself getting ready to unload the mean words gun, I am amazed at how natural it is. It feels weird saying “I love you” to the parts of my body that I’ve never liked much. It feels weird to not criticize the way my jeans fit or my face looks on live video. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s stretching me in the right direction!

So today, assess your life and be honest about where you need to grow, be more consistent, be kinder, let go, create space, or boundaries. But notice the way you talk to yourself and if it tends toward the negative, then begin to sweeten your tone, be encouraging and kind, and tell yourself you are loved and lovable. Because you are!



Sunday Offering

Sunday Prayer

 

I come to you at a slant, like a reverse sunbeam

from self-imposed exile. Was it easier with manmade ladders?

I’m not sure my sincerity always showed up.

Does it disappoint you that I am not in a row 

with the rest, doing my best to fit in, and failing?

 

Do you mind if the familiarity of sameness and routine 

has been cast aside in favor of singing praise

to you like falling rain or as the trees, simply by standing? 

 

I don’t want to hurt your heart 

or muddy your name with my red-lettered life. 

If you asked me if I loved you I would tell you 

I do and always have done.

 

Saints are called so for a reason and I am not one. 

Just a person with a few parts missing 

or in need of repair, coming to you 

looking for love and absolution. 

 

Some see you as dead as Zeus. 

Some don’t see you at all.

I see you everywhere mothering, fathering 

tending. Winsome and kind.

 

It is how the wind breathes into the hair of firs and 

the light gleams down on the dead brown grass.

How the birds return in spring and fly away again in the fall that I know. 

 

Perhaps my tears really are in a bottle that you keep. 

Perhaps it does matter to you if I bleed. 

Perhaps you will forgive my trespasses and 

welcome all the versions 

of myself that I present to you. 

©2018/by Kim Zimmerman/All Rights Reserved

 

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