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Autumn Day - Thanksgiving

gratitude for my home + for serving clients to create theirs

· homelessness,YMCA,Autumn,housing

Autumn Day - Thanksgiving

Every year in late Autumn, when almost all the leaves have fallen to the ground and before the festive season begins, I experience this in-between-moment of inner stillness and of melancholy and the great Rainer Maria Rilke´s poem comes to mind: Autumn Day.

The poem feels heavy to me like the wine he mentions in it and it is challenging to translate in other languages. Rilke wrote the poem in Paris, in his German mother tongue. There are many translations into English and I chose the one by J. Mullen for this article because it touches my heart in almost the same way:

Autumn Day
Lord: it is time. The summer was great.
Lay your shadows onto the sundials
and let loose the winds upon the fields.
Command the last fruits to be full,
give them yet two more southern days,
urge them to perfection, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.
Who now has no house, builds no more.
Who is now alone, will long remain so,
will stay awake, read, write long letters
and will wander restlessly here and there
in the avenues, when the leaves drift.
Rainer Maria Rilke, (trans. J. Mullen)
As an architectural designer, obviously houses mean a lot to me. I care about buildings. And I care very much about the people who spend so much time in the buildings we jointly create. Every year at this time I feel deeply grateful for the house I call home. I am grateful for the roof over my head, the heating and the warm water and I reflect back on a time in my life when I felt like I didn´t have a home.
Since that time as a student when I struggled to keep myself housed, I came to understand deeply that homelessness starts as a feeling, a perception and if it´s not addressed and the feeling of belonging restored, it might very well manifest as actual homelessness.
For this reason I feel deep gratitude for every person or institution who addresses the causes and manifestations of homelessness.
I applaud the EU for the goal they set themselves, to end homelessness in its member states by 2030.
In my architectural practise I have pledged to be a room sponsor. A percentage of the profits we give to the YMCA in England and Wales to provide a young person with a room to live in and the chance to turn their life around.
For the opportunity to do this I am grateful to my clients and the opportunity to serve them. I invite you to join us, especially this year, when being out on the streets has the added risk of catching Corona-Virus on top of being in such a vulnerable position.
Thank you for staying with me to the end and I wish you the very best Thanksgiving celebration.

Susanne Breul

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