A Column Published in The Horizon
Newsletter of Association of Experiential Education
By Faith Evans & David Markwardt
Poet: —Rainer Marie Rilke
As veteran outdoor education practitioners, we know the limits of rational thought and the value of emotional experience. Just as the outdoors can serve as a catalyst that helps people to change their thinking and behavior, poetry can open doors and offer new possibilities and ways of being. The timely reading of a well-chosen, relevant poem can add value to any experience in the outdoors. In this and coming issues of Horizon, we will offer a poem or a reading by a poet, ideas of how to incorporate it into your practice, and tips on reading poetry. Please feel free to contact us with comments and questions.
“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to
love the questions themselves. Don’t search for the answers,which
could not be given to you now, because you would not beable to live
them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without
even noticing it, live your way into the answers.”
—Rainer Marie Rilke
Ideas for How to Use Rilke’s Words
- Often, when working with groups experientially, facilitators work as hard—or even harder—than their participants, to help them uncover answers or discover truths. When a group is struggling and the answers seem to be elusive, offer Rilke’s poetic words to help participants gain a different perspective. The phrase, “…have patience with everything unresolved” may be helpful to both the facilitator and the participants, providing some relief. Be willing to let things percolate and be. Don’t rush solutions. Be comfortable with your discomfort and the group’s discomfort to sit with silence and uncertainty.
Tips on Reading Poetic Language -
Poetry contains condensed language. Although most people loved the rhymes and the music of poetry as children, they often grow unaccustomed to hearing it. Take your time reading. Breathe. Read more slowly than you may think is necessary. (You wouldn’t want a participant to race along a trail through the woods just to get to the end, would you?) Slow down to appreciate the depth of the words and the playful rhythm of the language. Consider reading the poem a second time so everyone really hears it.
- From 1903 to 1908, Austro-German poet Rainer Marie Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses to a young would-be poet on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world. These responses were published in the collection with by the name of “Letters to a Young Poet.”
How to Contact the Authors of this Column - Faith Evans, of PlayFully, Inc., and David Markwardt, of Teamwork in Action Director, Santa Fe Community College, can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Faith Evans & David Markwardt