the sky remains

“Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke


Photo ©2019, Jen Payne. For more on death, grief and finding a way to dance, please purchase a copy of my new book WAITING OUT THE STORM. Click here for details.

Life is Good?

At 4:30 on Tuesday, I stole out of the local package store with a bottle of wine in a paper sack and a lottery ticket. While it’s not quite as seedy as it sounds — leftover Fettuccine Bolognese demanded a nice Merlot, and friend and I are scheming a great escape — I still found myself on the ride home wondering, “Am I this disenchanted?”

My t-shirt for yoga today reminds me that “Life is good,” and for the most part, I would have to agree. Life is good. There are the continued blessings of good work and dear friends, and an ease in my nightly accounting of gratitude.

And yet there is also unease. It’s quiet and unobtrusive right now—something I can easily name a symptom of too much work and not enough play. For now. But…

The stars are veiled. Something stirs in the East.*

Last night, a quote from a movie piqued my attention:

“It is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope. But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical will live the relation to another as something alive.”

It’s a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. Coincidentally, Rilke had wandered into my sightline about a month ago — I’d bookmarked a website and reserved a copy of Letters on Amazon.

I’m supposed to be paying attention to this.

I know I’m supposed to be paying attention, because this morning four emails awaited me.

The first made me think: I don’t want this relationship, it causes too much pain.
The second made me think: I want this relationship so much I ache.
The third made me think: I need this relationship, it gives me great pleasure.

The fourth was from a professor I know of in India who is leading a gathering entitled: “Life is a movement in relationship.” It read as follows:

“…Life is a movement in relationship. And in that movement there is apparently a great deal of conflict and misery….we have made our relationship with each other a sense of fulfillment, pleasure, something to be desired and so on. So why do human beings so technologically intelligent, such extraordinary capacity and energy, why human beings have not solved this most essential question, problem. You may meditate. You may seek enlightenment. You may follow the latest guru, the latest expression of whatever you are following, but if you have not solved this problem, all your spiritual attainments and technological achievements have no value at all. Because our life is relationship….”

– J. Krishnamurti, On Conflict

This is twice in two months I have found myself face-to-face with philosopher and teacher J. Krishnamurti. And he is no stranger. I have been designing books about Krishnamurti and reading his words peripherally for years.

Perhaps it is time to do more than that?

• • •

*Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King


There is resistance this morning. I can feel it. It has rooted itself in that spot right in the middle of my chest — where anxiety and love co-mingle sometimes.

I’m trying to breathe through it. Let go. Be in the moment. Recognize it as thought that serves no purpose.

But still there is resistance.
And worry.
And fear.

And then these beautiful words find their way into my sightline, and I think…

I want to unfold.

Let no place in me hold itself closed,

for where I am closed, I am false…

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours

• • •

Photo ©2011, Jen Payne