The Poetry of Rilke

God speaks to each of us as He makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy (Riverhead Books: 1996), 88.

Decaf Faith

If I am honest, some days my faith in God is more ‘decaf’ than real.  In fact, most days I prefer having a decaffeinated faith because it looks and tastes like the real thing, but it is guaranteed to not keep me awake because I sometimes fear living a spiritually awakened life.

And knowing and being known by God, and choosing to follow Jesus, is all about waking up: waking up to the truth of unconditional love, waking up to the call to sacrifice and service, waking up to being forgiven and being called to forgive all wrongs.

Today while I was doing my usual Saturday ritual of walking around the lush grounds of the Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, VA, I yelled out to God in my desperation: “I don’t want decaf faith, Lord!” 

What I want is a faith that wakes me up – fully human, fully alive – prepared to be Present to all of life, good, bad, ugly, beautiful, pain and joy; awakened in such a manner as I see and taste God in all the experiences of the day.  I pine for a faith that is more “red eye” than decaf, an extra caffeinated faith that hinges on these two truths: that God is a Living God and that God is Love.

“How Much God Wants to Bless You” (John Piper)

​​I am an equal opportunists; this is evident by the fact that I am going to repost a writing from someone who I am not a big fan of – John Piper.  But I read this and it surprised me; it surprised me because it came from John Piper (known by me for his vitriol and dogmatic rigidity).
So, in the spirit of “reaching across the aisle” so to speak and building community, in the spirit of helping people grow spiritually by stretching comfort zones and minds and hearts, I repost this devotion written by John Piper.


“The Lord will again take delight in prospering you.” (Deuteronomy 30:9)

God does not bless us begrudgingly. There is a kind of eagerness about the beneficence of God. He does not wait for us to come to him. He seeks us out, because it is his pleasure to do us good. God is not waiting for us; ​God is pursuing us. That, in fact, is the literal translation of Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”

God loves to show mercy. Let me say it again. God loves to show mercy. He is not hesitant or indecisive or tentative in his desires to do good to his people. His anger must be released by a stiff safety lock, but his mercy has a hair trigger. That’s what he meant when he came down on Mount Sinai and said to Moses, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). It’s what he meant when he said in Jeremiah 9:24, “I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

God is never irritable or edgy. His anger never has a short fuse. Instead he is infinitely energetic with absolutely unbounded and unending enthusiasm for the fulfillment of his delights.

This is hard for us to comprehend, because we have to sleep every day just to cope, not to mention thrive. Our emotions go up and down. We get bored and discouraged one day and feel hopeful and excited another.

We are like little geysers that gurgle and sputter and pop erratically. But God is like a great Niagara Falls — you look at 186,000 tons of water crashing over the precipice every minute, and think: Surely this can’t keep going at this force year after year after year. Yet it does.

That’s the way God is about doing us good. He never grows weary of it. It never gets boring to him. The Niagara of his grace has no end.

​_____​


​Source: excerpted from The Pleasures of God, pages 172–174

“There Is Nothing to Regret” (Richard Rohr)

There Is Nothing to Regret (God Uses Everything in Our Favor)
By Richard Rohr , Monday, June 12, 2017

Toward the end of his life, Saint Francis told the friars, “Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up until now we have done little or nothing.” [1] That enigmatic sense of beginning again at the end of life, at the end of an era, in the middle of so much failure, when we just want to rest and put the past behind us, that is the gift for reconstruction that we want to discover in these meditations.

It makes Francis a man for all seasons, particularly for seasons of winter and death, when we do not know how, much less want, to begin again.

Francis also said as he lay dying, “I have done what is mine; may Christ teach you what is yours!” [2] We cannot change the world except insofar as we have changed ourselves. We can only give away who we are. We can only offer to others what God has done in us. We have no real mental or logical answers. We must be an answer. We only know the other side of the journeys that we have made ourselves. Francis walked to the edge and thus he could lead others to what he found there.

All the conflicts and contradictions of life must find a resolution in us before we can resolve anything outside ourselves. Only the forgiven can forgive, only the healed can heal, only those who stand daily in need of mercy can offer mercy to others. At first it sounds simplistic and even individualistic, but it is precisely such transformed people who can finally effect profound and long-lasting social change.

It has something to do with what we call quantum theology. [3] The cosmos is mirrored in the microcosm. If we let the mystery happen in one small and true place, it moves from there! It is contagious, it is shareable, it reshapes the world. Thus, both Jesus and Francis had no pragmatic social agenda for reform. They just moved outside the system of illusion, more by ignoring it than fighting it and quite simply doing it better. They knew that “the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better” (one of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s core principles). [4] Jesus and Francis moved to a much larger place that we call holiness/wholeness in God, and from there they could deal kindly with all smaller and confined places. Nothing threatened them; everything elated them, reflecting their own infinite abundance.

Don’t waste any time dividing the world into the good guys and the bad guys. Hold them both together in your own soul—where they are anyway—and you will have held together the whole world. You will have overcome the great divide in one place of spacious compassion. You, little you, will have paid the price of redemption. God takes it from there, replicating the same pattern in another conscious human life.

The Sound of God’s Voice

What is the sound of God’s voice? Is it audible? In English? Or maybe Aramaic, Hebrew or Arabic?

Is it discernable to the human ear?

I say it is. I say it is all of the above and much, much more. I say the sound of God’s voice is all around us.

It is in the chirping of the birds at Daybreak. It is in the soft cooing of a mother to a baby. It is in the agonizing weeping of sorrows and loss. It is in the rushing waters of rivers and streams.

God’s voice is found in the hushed whispers of breezes dancing through the trees. It is in the rhythmic meter of the little frogs praising God in chorus at eventide from the surface of the pond.

But God voice is found other places as well; places we think not, places that offend us and disturb us.

It is found in the trembling truths that fall from the mouths of alcoholics and addicts finding and seeking a new way of life. It is found in the death Nell sucking sound of cocaine and heroin entering the body and the gurgling of the last breath of an overdose or suicide. It is found in the screams of a child cowering in a corner. It is found in the begging and pleading of a young woman being trafficked.

God’s voice is found in a myriad of places, some comforting, some disturbing. God’s voice is found in sacred text and Scriptures of old that perpetually point us towards our Creator. God’s voice is found out on the streets and in the mountains.

I feel that in all ways, and things, God voice is constantly saying through life, Scripture, Nature and all that exists, “come, be with Me, be with Me in all the places I am to be found.” Other times Gods voice is saying “stop this, help that one, be with this one, listen to the other, fix this, heal that, challenge the darkness and shine the light.”

It is not always what God is saying that is crucial for us, for it is. But what is more important is the truth that God is speaking to us, here and now, in this moment.

So where do you hear God’s voice? And what is being said?

Dreams of Mercy (revised poem)

I dreamed of walking through emerald forest
hanging all the worries and weights of my body,
and my Soul, upon thick, uneven branches.

The wind was whispering through the trees, blowing dust out from within this wounded temple.

I heard the whimpering cries of old griefs who came
to have their say; the grief so laden, so familiar.
All the years of want and scars, they all came out of this

unsayable said, seeking their rightful place in my body.

The trees dared me to let the grief hollow out my bones
with mercy, allowing them to paint the walls of my heart
the blurred colors of hope.  I have failed this challenge before;

these pregnant opportunities to be held by an urgent compassion.

Too often I have walked away, full of myself, yet empty of truth.
But not today; today I dreamed of walking through emerald forest
My fingers tracing poems in the worn flesh of their bark…

 

“I Don’t Want to Be an American Christian…” (Written by Sheri Faye Rosendahl)

I am reposting this challenging Blog from Sheri Faye Rosendahl.  The original can be found at “I Don’t Want to Be an American Christian…” (From NotYourWhiteJesus Blog).

I Don’t Want to Be an American Christian; I Just Want to Follow Jesus

By Sheri Faye Rosendahl (May 15, 2017)

The label “American Christian” is largely and globally associated with negative connotations. How many American Evangelical Christians supported the Muslim ban? Who are we bombing today? What was that reason we can’t love the most vulnerable? American Christianity far too often looks nothing like its Savior.

I grew up in your typical American Christian home. I was exposed to Evangelical Christianity my entire life, but somehow I never got into religion. I think I picked up on the hypocrisy at a very young age and, in all honesty, it took me a quarter of a century to figure out who Jesus truly is.

Regardless, deep down I always believed the basics after essentially yelling at Jesus to get into my heart when I was four or five because I was terrified of hell. However, I have never in my life wanted to call myself a Christian. These days I try to follow the ways of the red letters with everything in my soul, but the idea of putting myself under that label is still beyond uncomfortable.

The truth is, I don’t relate to the general American Christian population because I can’t relate Jesus to many of the actions and beliefs of the general American Christian population.

I mean, come on now, the American Christian elite have managed to bring to power a literal bigoted-misogynistic-racist sexual predator as the “leader” of this nation. Conservative Christians stand firmly against health care for the vulnerable, but they are all about tax breaks for big business and spending millions on their president’s lavish “needs.” They tend to be crusaders for the right to birth while blatantly disregarding a right to life as they write off children slaughtered around the globe as “collateral damage.” They strongly advocate for the deportation of immigrants who are simply trying to provide a life for their family and refuse refuge to the most vulnerable ― essentially giving them a death sentence, but yet drone strikes and increases in military funding are totally cool…

Here’s the deal, maybe I’m wrong, so if someone could explain how these self-proclaimed American Christian views align with Jesus, please enlighten me. But really, if you wondered why it took me 25 years to figure out Jesus while I was surrounded by Christianity, there is your explanation: American Christianity is not synonymous with the ways of Jesus. Straight up.

But there are many of us who choose to follow Jesus and refuse to stand by the egocentric ways of American Christianity. Jesus was about loving sacrificially, not “America First.”

I often hear that we need to redeem Christianity and, though I understand the motive behind this quest, my question is: why are we trying to redeem a label?

Why don’t we instead try to redeem the ways of Jesus and ditch the label that has contradicted the red letters in his name? Jesus didn’t call us to be Christians; he called us to follow his ways.

So here’s where I’m at. This country and world are a mess and it’s time for those of us who want to see something different to unite. It’s time for a movement based on bold love. It’s time to go back to the red letters and start a revolution, something different than we have seen before. It’s time to truly and literally be the change our world desperately needs.

So who’s with me? Who is ready to truly see love win?

About Sheri Faye Rosendahl
Sheri Faye Rosendahl is a writer, lover of bold love, the Middle East, Yoga and cookies. You can find more of her writing at NotYourWhiteJesus.org or find her on Facebook. Sheri and her husband, Rich, also run a non-profit called The Nations, doing peace and humanitarian work with refugee neighbors from the Middles East, both domestically and abroad.