Secret Things

July 5, 2009

Secret Things

Over the last calendar year – I immersed myself in an intense program of personal challenge – learning about family systems, vocational assessment, ethics and licensure, group process, substance abuse and addiction, stylized techniques for talking to people in crisis, conversations from beyond the dominant discourse, and an interpersonal process experience that was distinctly non-nurturing.

I chose this path of deep immersion with my eye on an end point in the future – and if I could back up and hit rewind – I would not change a thing – and the side effects of this are I have lost my connection to the heartbeat, I can’t hear the whisper, and I am spinning straw, over and over, and over.

I am out of sorts this morning and was yesterday also… I am tired… and many are asking me how I am going to recover… and the more they ask and use their words to know me… the more tired I am… and the more I want to sit in silence.

I have an enormous capacity for silence. I can and have gone days without speaking to another – not in a sulking withdrawn “I’m not talking” silence – but sacred silence – the silence of listening to the heartbeat of the goddess and letting mine beat in time with hers.

One of my most liberating experiences was a retreat at Kripalu where we had name tags that read “In loving silence” and the immense peace I felt in being able to interact, eat, practice, play, walk, meditate and be both alone and with others with no need to blabber and make small talk.

I asked Salmon boy the other day – what it means that I am more content at a produce auction where I know no one than at my local farmer’s market where everyone sees me – but few know my true name – and his response has me contemplating once again the contemplative traditions and how drawn I am to that inner stillness that comes from not speaking.

A woman told me recently, that people are drawn to me because they sense that inner wellspring of stillness and clear waters, and they know that I know secret things. Does she know my secret? that I have been working with Rilke again? She knows so many of my secrets  and loves me so deeply.

I am too alone in the world, and not alone enough
to make every moment holy.
I am too tiny in this world, and not tiny enough
just to lie before you like a thing
shrewd and secretive.
I want my own will, and I want simply to be with
my will,
as it goes toward action,
and in the silent, sometimes hardly moving times
when something is coming near,
I want to be with those who know secret things, or else alone
~~~Bly translation

The first version of Mozart’s Requiem that I learned isn’t the best version – but it is the performance that first touched me – so other versions always sound a bit less – somehow lacking – and this is something I know about myself – first versions touching me deeply – and yet with Rilke and with poetry – all the translations illuminate different nuances of knowing.

Bly’s translation is so powerful – “those who know secret things” is so different than other translations who calls those others “wise”  or “in the know.”

It is the secret things that pull me in and where I feel alone and together and at home.

In looking for another translation, I came across this… and yes… this is how it is for words with me write now (love that slip!).

I am so afraid of people’s words.
They describe so distinctly everything:
And this they call dog and that they call house,
here the start and there the end.

I worry about their mockery with words,
they know everything, what will be, what was;
no mountain is still miraculous;
and their house and yard lead right up to God.

I want to warn and object: Let the things be!
I enjoy listening to the sound they are making.
But you always touch: and they hush and stand still.
That’s how you kill.

~~~ Kidder translation

And so I have once again written myself into my own answer… with words… and the stillness of the morning… and the promise of several weeks of stillness that are coming soon. I am so ready to bask in the broth of the great mother, to be held, to listen deeply to her teachings, to show myself to father sky and mother moon, to live in the liminal space where they touch and love. Where I touch and love and where I am touched and loved.



  1. “I’m so afraid of people’s words”
    Helps clarify why I sometimes stand in the corner in silence.Afraid to utter the word that might cause pain.

  2. What a beautiful and heartfelt entry. So, I assume your program is complete? Yes? Hope all is well with you.

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