Rilke, nature and faith (from my first day of change)

Here’s what came to me on my first of my forty days of change.

A walk in the woods on a cold, sunny morning brought out the same word I noticed twice while reading my favorite autumn poet, Rainer Maria Rilke’s poems last night. That word is faith.

Rilke trusted the falling that autumn brings out. In his poem Autumn, he said, “The leaves are falling…we’re all falling.” He said it calmly. How do I know? The last line of the poem is, “And yet there is Someone, whose hands infinitely calm, hold up all this falling.”

But on to his two quotes on faith. He said, “I have faith in all those things that are not yet said.” And he said, “I have faith in nights.” How beautiful! And perfect for the late autumn, the darkest days still ahead and nearing.

On my short walk I saw how most of the leaves had left the treas. Only some of the red and white oaks held their leaves near the top. Even the large beech tree I love has let go of most of its leaves. Yet, there was no panic in the woods that morning. Nothing seemed concerned at all about this falling of the leaves. A bird fluttered in a bush and a chipmunk rooted among the leaves, finding and eating an acorn it found.

Everything in nature seemed to be silently highlighting faith. It was saying to me – patience. This is exactly how it should be. This is the rhythm of true growth, this quiet, this darkness, this cold, this emptiness. Without it, nature could not do what it does.

If you don’t think you have a lot of faith (and there have been times in the last week, in the middle of bronchitis, that I have lost faith that that pressure in my chest will ease), nature is calmly there to help. We humans love the idea of the upward spiral, that things will continually get better. Nature can help us with the idea of the full circle spiral, that things circle.

Nature, Rilke, faith. Faith in nights, in things not yet said, in falling, in darkness, in sickness, in cold. As the days grow darker, here’s to your growing faith.

This post is part of a series on using persistence to create lasting personal change for the better. Forty Days to a Change for Good is part of Quixote Consulting’s Change Quest change management training and Resiliency: Five Keys to Success training. Research shows it takes at least 30 days to make a positive change in your life that lasts. This post is part of a series by Rob Fletcher that examines what makes change initiatives work, what makes them fail, and how daily rituals support positive changes you want to make.

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