Yesterday afternoon I went to Book Passage to hear Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows speak about their new book, A Year with Rilke, Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke. The book contains their translations of his work. There, I saw Louise Yahnian, the third grade teacher of both my sons. She will be 75 on May 2nd, and is truly a guiding light. I feel lighter just thinking of her and I see how much it matters how each of us in the world. We truly do make a difference just by "showing up" with joy and excitement about what life brings and what we bring to it.
I was most struck yesterday by this reading for February 27th. Rilke wrote the following in a letter to Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouy on January 23, 1924. Of course, it was written in German, but this is their translation. Joanna said it gave her comfort last week as she read it where her husband was placed a year ago in a Green cemetery in Mill Valley.
THE SECRET OF DEATH
The great secret of death, and perhaps its deepest connection with us, is this: that, in taking from us a being we have loved and venerated, death does not wound us without, at the same time, lifting us toward a more perfect understanding of this being and of ourselves.