There is a picture book that comes to mind tonight … The Man Who Walked Between the Towers … from the Amazon website … “Once there were two towers side by side. They were each a quarter of a mile high… The tallest buildings in New York City.” The author casts the French aerialist and street performer as the hero: “A young man saw them rise into the sky…. He loved to walk and dance on a rope he tied between two trees.” As the man makes his way across the rope from one tree to the other, the towers loom in the background. When Philippe gazes at the twin buildings, he looks “not at the towers but at the space between them…. What a wonderful place to stretch a rope; a wire on which to walk.”
This poem by May Sarton likens the light walk across the tight rope to our finding balance in our lives … the light walk of grace and peace in the midst of travail …
Not to rebel against what pulls us down,
The private burden each of us could name
That weigh heavily in the blood and bone
So that we stumble, clumsy half the time
Unable to love well or love at all!
Who knows the full weight that another bears,
What obscure densities sustains alone,
To burst fearfully through what self-locked doors?
So heavy is our walk with what we feel,
And cannot tell, and cannot ever tell.
Oh, to have the lightness, the savoir faire
Of a tightrope walker, his quicksilver tread
As he runs softly over the taut steel thread;
Sharp as a knife blade cutting walls of air,
He’s pitted against weights we cannot see,
All tension balanced, though we see him only
A rapture of grace and skill, focused and lonely.
Is it a question of discipline or grace?
The steel trap of the will or some slight shift
Within an opened consciousness?
The tightrope walker juggles weights, to lift
Himself up on the stress, and, airy master
Of his own loss, he springs from heaviness.
But we, stumbling our way, how learn such poise,
The perfect balance of all griefs and joys?
Burdened by love, how learn the light release
That, out of stress, can somersault to peace?
~ May Sarton