God Speaks to Each of Us

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.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

Rainer Maria Rilke was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense, mystical poets of his generation. His writings include a novel, several collections of poetry, and several volumes of correspondence, in which he invokes the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of profound disbelief, solitude, and anxiety. These deeply existential themes tend to position him as a towering, transitional figure between the traditional and modernist writers.

—from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, Riverhead Books, 1996