The Man Watching
Do you know the story of Jacob?  Do you remember
the part when he wrestled with the angel?
Well, here is one of my most favorite poems.
This poem is about those great storms that come into
our lives.  And when they are finished, we are changed.
And the way of growth is one of being "defeated,
decisively, by constantly greater beings."
This runs in the face of all the stuff about being strong
and being overcomers--some ego strength.
Ego strength will not cut it.
Only a meeting with the Angel can do the work.
If the Angel never shows up, nothing changes in us of an eternal value.
I think the way of strength is a path that leads us towards
humility, brokenness, yieldness, and a certain submission
to the hand of God in our lives.
These storms are huge.
And if we are fortunate to have been beaten by this Angel,
we are blest indeed.
If you remember the story of Jacob, his life absolutely changed
after his meeting with the Angel.
His new name became Israel.
                                                       ltm
The Man Watching










I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can't bear without a friend,
I can't love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape, like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights with us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as animals do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it's with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers' sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man (woman).
This is how he (she) grows:
by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

                                                                 Rainer Maria Rilke