I woke this morning with an unexplained sadness wafting through me. I thought perhaps it was just a mood left over from an early-morning dream, but then I remembered that I’ve felt this sadness more than once in the week or so since I returned to Raleigh—since I came home—a life event/change that I’m happy about, that I wanted. I’ve also had many moments of sudden, leaping joy and quiet peace…these made sense. But why sadness?
Then, later today, I came across the Rilke quote below on Facebook:
It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.
~Rainer Maria Rilke
As I read the quote, I felt the truth of Rilke’s words drop into place in my soul. He describes perfectly the sense of what I’d been feeling. As I considered his words, I realized that this morning’s sadness was not a heavy melancholy, but, as Rilke said, a presence, something to be embraced, absorbed, taken in. And this is where I stop, for to attempt to articulate what I think I now understand on a deep, wordless level would be futile. That the insight is there, however fragile, is enough.