You darkness from which I come, I love you more than all the fires that fence out the world, for the fire makes a circle for everyone so that no one sees you anymore. But darkness holds it all: the shape and the flame, the animal and myself, how it holds them, all powers, all sight — and it is possible: its great strength is breaking into my body. I have faith in the night.
Rainer Maria Rilke translated by David Whyte
This gem came within an email this week where, in the Northern Hemisphere, various divinations by animals foretold of six more weeks of winter. Despite daylight hours growing, this pronouncement still means many more hours of darkness. I imagine that to “have faith in the night” that we will awaken come dawn, might have been one of those experiences that filled with awe our earliest ancestors. This photo, taken my first night on Morocco’s Sahara, could be the sun rising. Life’s circles and cycles, as too this week, Imbolc, the Celtic celebration of the first glimmering of spring, falling midway between Winter’s Solstice and Spring’s Equinox. Also, the feast day of Brigid, the patron saint of, among many things, poetry. Speaking of which, Whyte’s translation of this piece from Rilke evokes his own much loved poem, Sweet Darkness, read here by him.
The trees, along their bare limbs, contemplate green. A flicker, rising, flashes rust and white before vanishing into stillness, and raked leaves crumble imperceptibly to dirt.
On all sides life opens and closes around like a mouth. Will you pretend you are not caught between its teeth?
The kestrel in its swift dive and the mouse below, the first green shoots that will not wait for spring are a language constantly forming.
Quiet your pride and listen. There — beneath the rainfall and the ravens calling you can hear it — the great tongue constantly enunciating something that rings through the world as grace.
Lynn Ungar (Bread and Other Miracles)
Last week when I wrote about Wintering, I was aware it was Imbolc, the ancient Celtic holy day, midway between Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox, that honours the “barely beginnings” of new life. Try as I might to acknowledge that in my post, I couldn’t, needing instead to simply stay put in the depth of wintering. Maybe a prescient response to the deep Arctic cold that descended upon us this week, nonetheless, those barely beginnings are evident. Sun rising earlier in the morning, sitting higher in the noon sky, setting later in the afternoon. Hyacinth, tulip and daffodil bulbs forced in greenhouse warmth. Latent buds on trees. We wait. It comes. Winter into Spring.