It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,
and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.
I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you.
Rainer Maria Rilke
We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us. We are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be distinguished from all that surrounds us. We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.
Rainer Maria Rilke
They were men falling.
Some falling quickly, like the stone,
others very slowly, like the feather,
one after another, falling.
They held hands.
They stood at the edge
and one after another, they jumped.
Some jumped right away to get it over with perhaps.
While others stood terrified for a long, long time.
But in the end, everyone of them,
in their own time, jumped.
They held on to each other by the hands,
with others who had jumped before,
and in groups of two or three or four and sometimes more,
Down into the darkness.
Down into the sobbing and the screaming and the terror.
Down because they could not return.
Down because they had come to the end.
Down, down, down.
But something new happened, a miracle really.
Because they held hands and only because they held hands,
they did not die.
they held on tight to one another and did not let go,
some strangers, some friends,
and did not let go and somehow
in the failing and the terror and the holding on to one another
they suddenly learned to fly.
And fly they did, up and up and up,
one after another,
to places they had never seen before.
And when they finally came back
they held each other in the eyes
hardly believing what had just happened
holding their breath and speechless,
but they knew.
And always down in them somewhere they will never forget.
Rob Allbee September 1997
(Written on the outside following Rob’s New Warrior Training Adventure)