Sometimes a Man Stands Up During Supper
Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.
And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.
And another man, who remains inside his own house,
dies there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
so that his children have to go far out into the world
toward that same church, which he forgot.
Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Robert Bly
It’s been said that 95% of human communication is non-verbal. In effect this means that there are times our words are all but superfluous, that nearly everything is being communicated by tone, musicality of our voice, gesture, stance, facial expression, pheromones, the quality of our listening and so many other things perhaps unnameable by laymen.
There’s an acting exercise wherein one can express an almost unlimited number of things with the declaration, “I love you.” Depending on the way these words are said, one can comfort, shame, encourage, denigrate, or seduce another. The words may be used as a caress or a cudgel.
To talk, to write and read about the realm of the spirit, is perhaps one of the more absurd assignments to give ourselves. So much to be misunderstood, taken in ways not meant. So many traps to fall into.
Thank God for poets.
I can write something like, “A life spent seeking God is a life worth living,” and at best it may be seen as true-ish but cliché; at worst, as banal and pretentious.
Or I can quote one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, and whether you agree with him or not, whether or not you can relate the ideas expressed to your own life, at the very least you will be able to appreciate the music of his words and of the images expressed.
For me, the poem brings an immediate visual, and a pleasant fantasy that someone – myself, my father – one day could have stood up during supper and… life would have turned out differently.
Today I will remember that I am on the earth in order to accomplish something, and I will ask of some power greater than myself to be shown more clearly what that might be, and I will ask that same power to help me find the willingness to follow wherever it might lead me.
Summer and Her Medicinal Plant, Aurora, CO
All original material copyright © 2018 Jeff Kober