January 27, 2017

Tending Your Inner Garden in Winter

Albert Camus, from "Return to Tipassa" 
Albert Camus wrote in his essay "Return to Tipassa" that “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."  That invincible summer may have been where the "inner garden" of Rainer Maria Rilke grew.

Rilke is known for his poetry and also for his prolific and poetic letters. More than seven thousand of his letters have survived. Published three years after his untimely death, the best known collection of them is Letters to a Young Poet. The letters contain his meditations on life’s questions. 

The following year his Letters to a Young Woman was published. These letters are a collection of ones written to a young woman, Lisa Heise. Lisa was an admirer of the poet who wrote to him after her husband abandoned her and their two-year-old son. She told him that she found consolation in his Book of Images

In one letter, he wrote about tending one's inner garden - an occupation one can have in any season.

Tending my inner garden went splendidly this winter. Suddenly to be healed again and aware that the very ground of my being — my mind and spirit — was given time and space in which to go on growing; and there came from my heart a radiance I had not felt so strongly for a long time… You tell me how you are able to feel fully alive every moment of the day and that your inner life is brimming over; you write in the knowledge that what you have, if one looks at it squarely, outweighs and cancels all possible privations and losses that may later come along. It is precisely this that was borne in upon me more conclusively than ever before as I worked away during the long Winter months: that the stages by which life has become impoverished correspond with those earlier times when excesses of wealth were the accustomed measure. What, then, is there to fear? Only forgetting! But you and I, around us and in us, we have so much in store to help us remember!

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