Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Rilke on James 2

Well, technically, the following poems I've typed here are composed by Rainer Maria Rilke, culled from his The Book of Hours, and they aren't his reflections upon James 2. However, as I was meditating & praying in preparation for small group last evening, I was reading through both James 2 and the poetry of Rilke. Thus, these poems are my reflections upon James 2 through the eyes of Rilke. I do hope that you enjoy them as they provided me much to think about, absorb, and center my prayers around as I read through James.

((And if those last 4 sentences didn't make much sense, that's OK too. Just ignore my introduction and read the poetry.))

Ich bin auf der Welt zu allein und doch nicht allein genug

I'm too alone in the world, yet not alone enough
to make each hour holy.
I'm too small in the world, yet not small enough
to be simply in your presence, like a thing --
just as it is.

I want to know my own will
and to move with it.
And I want, in the hushed moments
when the nameless draws near,
to be among the wise ones --
or alone.

I want to mirror your immensity.
I want never to be too weak or too old
to bear the heavy, lurching image of you.

I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.
I want to stay clear in your sight.

I would describe myself
like a landscape I've studied
at length, in detail;
like a word I'm coming to understand;
like a pitcher I pour from at mealtime;
like my mother's face;
like a ship that carried me
when the waters raged.

Book I, 13

Du wirst nur mit der Tat erfafst

Only in our doing can we grasp you.
Only with our hands can we illumine you.
The mind is but a visitor:
it thinks us out of our world.

Each mind fabricates itself.
We sense its limits, for we have made them.
And just when we would flee them, you come
and make of yourself an offering.

I don't want to think a place for you.
Speak to me from everywhere.
Your Gospel can be comprehended
without looking for its source.

When I go toward you
it is with my whole life.

Book I, 51

Gott spricht zu jedem nur, eh er ihn macht

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.

Book I, 59


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