Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.Rainer Maria Rilke
This powerful truth hit me on the solar plexus this morning. What a lesson, and what a relief that more often than not, I have instinctively chosen not to question certain situations or events in my life, but chose to live through some painful and trying times. One foot in front of the other.
I managed to survive the sudden death of my father in the middle of my final year at school. In exam time. Stubbornly I refused to let my mother’s suicide break me. I had too much at stake to implode, my sister to care for, and a life of my own.
I asked questions much later, and no good came from it believe me. I opened a Pandora’s box of anger, hurt and pain. What a mistake. My poor husband, baby daughter and family had to contend with my anguish for many years. The damage to my heart seemingly irreparable.
By the loving grace of God, therapy, and my daily dose of anti- depressant, I have come to realise the truth in the Leonard Cohen lyrics.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
In a rare moment the artist explained powerful lyrics of “Anthem”:
The future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring”: they’re few and far between but you can find them. This situation does not admit of solution of perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect.And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together: Physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.
So, yes wise Rilke, it is better to imperfectly live the question and allow light to shine from the cracks in my broken heart. It has taught me empathy, kindness and can hold my sorrow. It knows the painful things that trigger my anger and despair, it has taught me to love others and accept myself imperfect as I am. It is just the being patient part that gets to me.