THE WHITE ROSE AND THE BEGGAR WOMAN


The story about Rainer Maria Rilke’s interactions with the beggar woman, in Paris, gives us the gift of spiritual eyesight. This guides us to notice who we Really are: the formless Soul-body that’s flowing through all hearts, in light and in darkness, no matter what our role is in life.

For weeks, Rilke and a female companion walked by a beggar woman, daily.
The beggar always sat in the same place – with her head down and her arm held out for a coin. Not once did she give the Giver any sign of asking or thanking.

Her head remained down and her hand held out.
On many occasions, Rilke’s companion put a coin in her hand, but Rilke did not give anything.
One day, she asked Rilke, “Why don’t you give anything?” and he answered,  “We have to give to her heart, not to her hand.”
Days later, Rilke put a white rose in the beggar woman’s empty hand and was about to walk on, when….. the beggar woman looked up, got to her feet, kissed his hand and walked away with the rose in her hand.

For eight days, the place where she sat was empty.
It seemed she would not return and Rilke’s companion started to wonder why she had not returned? Had something happened to her? Who was feeding her now? And what role had the rose played?

The rose inspired the beggar to get up and play another role for a while. When she returned after eight days and started begging again, it looked as if nothing had changed. At least, there was no noticeable change to her on her exterior. But, in her interior world, in my opinion, there was change.  She no longer was only just a beggar woman but also a keeper of the poet’s white rose.

Story translated by Bea Ma—Last edited March 10, 2017