Joanna Macy, Rilke and Me

During the last two weeks, I’ve been listening repeatedly to an interview with Joanna Macy that Krista Tippett recorded for her radio show Being.  The topic, A Wild Love for the World, has me captivated.

I am soothed by the sound of Joanna’s voice – the wisdom in and beyond her words that emanates from her being, the lightheartedness and humor when talking about a serious subject – the way in which we are being with the earth and each other.
It offered me comfort and courage to be with myself and the world during the  earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the corresponding ones in my own life.  I am moved by the way in which she loves the world – passionately, expansively, with the presence and courage to be with herself and others as we learn to be with the grief  that arises when we deeply experience what we are doing to the earth.



Joanna Macy


She is inspiring to me because I see her taking a stand for being with ourselves and the earth in a similar way as I take a stand for being with our ourselves and our inner experiences. Notice the arising of feelings and needs.  Embrace them.  Savor them.  Be with ourselves and the Source of our being first, feeling our feelings (whatever they may be), speaking our truth in a  loving and compassionate way (and sometimes in a jackal kinda way!), and moving from center to connect with others and the earth.  I think we share this perspective and I am grateful.

I have been struggling to write an authentic post about my experience of listening to her interview; trying to put into words the threads of connection that are clear in my heart and in the silence. I have surrendered to simplicity.  I was deeply moved by many of the Rainer Maria Rilke poems Joanna read on the show, but particularly Go to the Limits of Your Longings. So, I simply post that.  To hear Joanna Macy read this poem, (click here).

I trust you’ll sense the connection (Truth) in the silence.  If words come to you that express your experience , please leave a comment.


Go to the Limits of Your Longings
By Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows


God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Book of Hours, I 59



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  1. Hi Em,
    I just listened to the interview of Joanna Macy. I very much enjoyed getting to know her thru it. Sending lots of unconditional regard your way from rainy Koh Samui, Jack

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