Words may be one of the smallest habitations for the self. Yet we keep trying to squeeze ourselves into them.
At some stage of smallness I found Rumi. He taught me about going and arriving and about seemingly opposing forces. When one thing comes, its apparent opposite is arriving close behind. Love and fear, life and death, hope and despair. These circles are the fields where the divine plays.
Give us one clear morning after another,
and the one whose work remains unfinished,
who is our work as we diminish,
idle, though occupied, empty, and open.
(read all of Rumi's poem "Jars of Springwater" here)
Then I found Rilke and grew smaller still while contemplating the vastness he encountered and expressed in his brief life. Poems are small treatises, the smallest forms that words compile. The wind of experience keeps blowing, eroding the outer shell. Words grow less. The ability to say anything about what is felt shrinks.
In honor of Rilke's 137th birthday, I posted his poem "Night" at my "small" blog with a sketch I drew of his strange, small face. Here are the last two stanzas of "Night":
. . . brimming with new stars, who fling
fire from their birth
into the soundless adventure
of galactic spaces:
your sheer existence,
you transcender of all things, makes me so small.
Yet, one with the darkening earth,
I dare to be in you.
(whole poem here)
The world closes in on us in its overtaking vastness. But there is another expanse we can enter in our smallness that in turn shrinks the materially burdened world. It is the infinite, eternal space here inside.