The question of identity is such a conundrum, to me, in the context of a marriage/intimate relationship.  I spent 23 years building libraries and collections and small masterpieces, deciding what I loved and where I loved it most and how I could weave it all into my present living most richly.  Before I met Marshall, I had shelves of poetry and fiction, wooden boxes filled with colored broken glass and British pounds, so many albums of requiems and aves and salve reginas.  The mysterious blending of our lives over the past two years hasn’t seen the loss of any of these things, like it so easily could have if we had been reckless, but they have shifted and died down in some places in order to shoot up in others.  His loves have charged into my heart and I make room.  We meet each other’s loves and silently, almost without realizing it, are building a new identity from the two worlds.  Who is that person that we are becoming?

I put on my John Rutter collection of sacred choral music this morning and found in it the stillness I’ve been wanting.  The kind I used to find every morning before I came back to Knoxville and embarked on the rest of my life.  This is as much a part of me as my bones, this need for and love of the still place of this music.  And the surprise of this rediscovery isn’t frightening — I’m not afraid that I’m accidentally losing parts of myself as I grow deeper into this relationship — it seems only like another signpost on the road of any relationship.  A warning that the road forks, ahead.

Every day I have an opportunity to become more fully myself, or not.  Become distracted, stay distracted, live outside of my body.  Always seeing, never understanding.  Or not: put off anxiety and walk through the curtain.  For me, this is dropping my cyclical rhythms of guilt and unassigned fear, opening my hands, and turning up my forearms, to God.  It is breathtaking that I am set back more fully into the seat of myself, here.  And I’ll add that when I’m talking about “myself,” here, and everywhere, I mean something much less like an ego and much more like an understanding of my purpose and position as a living person.  Which, maybe that’s what an ego is.  I should know what an ego is.  Huh.  Well.

At any rate, I find more and more that Rilke’s wisdom is truth.  As is Fred Rogers’, but I don’t have any of his books (has he written books?).  This is from Letter 7:

“But in this young people err so often and so grievously: that they (in whose nature it lies to have no patience) cast themselves upon each other, when love takes possession of them, scatter themselves, just as they are, in all their untidiness, disorder, confusion….And then what?  What is life to do with this heap of half-battered existence which they call their common living and which they would gladly call their happiness, if it were possible, and their future?  Thus each loses the other and many others, that were yet to come.  And loses the expanses and the possibilities, exchanges the approach and flight of gentle, divining things for an unfruitful perplexity out of which nothing can come, nothing save a little disgust, disillusionment and poverty… but how should they, who have already flung themselves together and no longer mark off and distinguish themselves from each other, who therefore no longer possess individuality of their own, be able to find a way out of themselves, out of the depth of their already shattered solitude?”

As my and Marshall’s new life is coming up out of the earth or the water, I find as many warnings as I do beautiful things.  It’s all barely comprehensible.  Which is why I need wisdom, and to sit still in the room of my soul.  The push and pull of growing into a new sort of being seems like a mechanism as automatic and unconscious as the simple growth of spring flowers … but no, it has to be tended.  The wisdom of Rilke is really the wisdom of Jesus, telling a crowd about the man who built his house on a bed of stone.