Segment 1 of "America Windows" by Marc Chagall, Art Institute of Chicago
In this late afternoon blue winter light, as the window of one year is being shuttered and a new one about to be opened with the flare of a candle, thoughts about an artist and a poet are synchronizing in me.
Segment 2 of "America Windows" by Marc Chagall, Art Institute of Chicago
Wednesday I had the mighty joy of standing in the radiance of Marc Chagall’s stained glass "America Windows" at the Art Institute of Chicago, which he created expressly for the museum out of appreciation. Newly cleaned and returned to the Art Institute in its new modern wing, Chagall’s blues, reds, yellows and pink are as resplendent as they must have been when he completed them in 1977. (If you are interested in learning more about the windows and how Chagall created them out of gratitude for the Art Institute's dedication of a gallery to him, go here; if you ever make it to the Midwest, I feel a trip to the Art Institute is worthwhile for these windows alone.)
Segment 3 of "America Windows" by Marc Chagall, Art Institute of Chicago
"America Windows" by Marc Chagall, Art Institute of Chicago
(this photo from The History Blog)
As you may have noticed I have been posting a lot of poems by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke these last few months. His focus on the inner landscape is right up my alley, and with every new poem I read, my heart expands a bit more.
In the mind-boggling and cumbersome intensity of the world’s problems bending the corner with us into the new year, I am inspired by these two who continually processed and transformed the facts of the world into the truth of the soul, where our response to the world is what matters. Through creative expressions, we can love this place of ours.
The Alchemist’s Pillow and I feel for Rilke’s poetry, and because there is a new volume of daily readings titled A Year with Rilke (translated and edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows), we are launching a new blog containing these daily passages, much like my blog RUMI DAYS, which shares readings from another HarperOne publication, A Year With Rumi. Our blog A Year With Rilke will offer passages of letters, prose and poems of Rainer Maria Rilke exactly as published in that book, except that we will add images to the readings. The blog is live, and daily postings will begin January 1. The following poem will be featured at the blog March 18 and expresses what I have shared today.
The Interior Castle
by Rainer Maria Rilke
Nowhere, Beloved, will the world exist, but within us.
Our lives are constant transformations. The external
grows ever smaller. Where a solid house once stood,
now a mental image takes its place,
almost as if it were all in the imagination.
Our era has created vast reservoirs of power,
as formless as the currents of energy they transmit.
Temples are no longer known. In our hearts
these can be secretly saved. Where one survives—
a Thing once prayed to, worshipped, knelt before—
its true nature seems already to have passed
into the Invisible. Many no longer take it for real,
and do not seize the chance to build it
inwardly, and yet more vividly, with all its pillars and statues.