Try To Love The Questions

(Photo from


In the last two weeks I’ve been in two circumstances looking for the Rilke quote below. Time to catch it here.

Rilke was an Austrian poet living in the late 1800s and early 1900s. His work, “Letters to a Young Poet” are often referenced for their call to inquiry and deeper consciousness.

In both of the circumstances I was in, I was looking for this phrase about “being patient,” about “loving the questions themselves,” and about “living into the insights.” In both circumstances, I wanted to encourage people to be in the journey, to give themselves to the whole of it that changes us over time. I so trust the invisible found in the less immediate.

Rilke wrote in a letter to a young protege,

“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Here’s to the journey, and the courage to be patient in what is unsolved.

Rilke — As Once The Winged Energy of Delight

Again, gifted to me by a friend, this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, the great Austrian poet. Here’s to learning to span the chasms.


As Once The Winged Energy Of Delight 

As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood’s dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.

Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.

To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions…For the god
wants to know himself in you.

On Beauty and Distance Between

One of my friends calls it a “Tulip Tree” because the blossoms resemble tulips. I think it is more properly a “Magnolia Tree.” This one above is on the walk that I most often take with my dog, along Heritage Trail in Lindon, UT. The blossoms are gorgeous, and as you can see plentiful. They are delicate too. A good spring windy day can quite immediately move the bulk of those petals to the ground.

In response to my post yesterday on choice, friendship, and welcome, another friend sent me this from Rainer Maria Rilke, the Austrian poet and mystic of the early 1900s.

“Once the realization is accepted
that even between the closet human beings
infinite distances continue to exists,
a wonderful living side by side can grow up.
If they succeed in loving the distance between them
which makes it possible
for each to see the other
whole and against the wide sky”!

Here’s to the beauty of space between that comes with choice, friendship, and welcome. And to good friends — like the one currently in Maui, Hawaii, who sent me this Rilke passage.

Rise Up Rooted Like Trees

What I like in this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, the beloved Bohemian-Austrian poet of the late 1800s and early 1900s, is the invocation to trust a deep center, one that is already there. I don’t read it as advice to not reach beyond, to dream, or to wonder. It’s just a solid reminder to cultivate and know what lays within and beneath, to give real attention to the descent (in a society that often gives sole preference to the ascent).

Thanks to friend and colleague Sara Rosenau for sharing this with me recently.

Rise Up Rooted Like Trees

How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.
Each thing—
each stone, blossom, child—
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.
If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.
Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.
So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left [God].
This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.