From “The Book of Monastic Life”, I. 16

Daraus, dass Einer dich einmal gewollt hat,
weiß ich, dass wir dich wollen dürfen.
Wenn wir auch alle Tiefen verwürfen:
wenn ein Gebirge Gold hat
und keiner mehr es ergaben mag,
trägt es einmal der Fluß zutage,
der in die Stille der Steine greift,
der vollen.

Auch wenn wir nicht wollen:
Gott reift.

–Rainier Maria Rilke, from The Book of Hours: The Book of Monastic Life”, published 1905.

English translation

Because once someone dared
to want you,
I know that we, too, may want you.

When gold is in the mountain
and we’ve ravaged the depths
till we’ve given up digging,

it will be brought forth into day
by the river that mines
the silence of stone.

Even when we don’t desire it,
God is ripening.

–Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

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In Stillness

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
to speak your

name.
Listen
to the living walls.

Who are you?
Who
are you? Whose
silence are you?

Who (be quiet)
are you (as these stones
are quiet). Do not
think of what you are
still less of
what you may one day be.

Rather
be what you are (but who?)
be the unthinkable one
you do not know.

O be still, while
you are still alive,
and all things live around you

speaking (I do not hear)
to your own being,
speaking by the unknown
that is in you and in themselves.

“I will try, like them
to be my own silence:
and this is difficult. The whole
world is secretly on fire. The stones
burn, even the stones they burn me.
How can a man be still or
listen to all things burning?
How can he dare to sit with them
when all their silence is on fire?”

–Thomas Merton (from “The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton)

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Herbsttag

Herr, es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren lass die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Früchten, voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin, und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

–Rainer Maria Rilke

Translation:

Lord, it is time. The summer was so immense.
Lay your shadow on the sundials,
and let loose the winds in the fields.

Bid the last fruits to be full;
give them another two more southerly days,
press them to ripeness, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now will not build one anymore.
Whoever is alone now will remain so for a long time,
will stay up, read, write long letters,
and wander the avenues, up and down,
restlessly, while the leaves are blowing.

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Excerpt from “The Book of Monastic Life”

Why am I reaching again for brushes?
When I paint your portrait, God,
nothing happens.

But I can choose to feel you.

At my senses’ horizon
you appear hesitantly,
like scattered islands.

Yet standing here, peering out,
I’m all the time seen by you.

The choruses of angels use up all of heaven.
There’s no more room for you
in all that glory. You’re living
in your very last house.

All creation holds its breath, listening within me,
because, to hear you, I keep silent.

–From “The Book of Monastic Life”, by Rainer Maria Rilke.

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Surely it is God who saves me

Surely it is God who saves me;
trusting him, I shall not fear.
For the Lord defends and shields me
and his saving help is near.
So rejoice as you draw water
from salvation’s living spring;
in the day of your deliverance
thank the Lord, his mercies sing.

Make his deeds known to the peoples;
tell out his exalted Name.
Praise the Lord, who has done great things;
all his works his might proclaim.
Zion, lift your voice in singing;
for with you has come to dwell,
in your very midst, the great
and Holy One of Israel.

–Words: Carl P Daw (b. 1944); paraphrase of The First Song of Isaiah
–Tune: THOMAS MERTON, by Ray W. Urwin (b. 1950)

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Death wasn’t the end of the story

It’s Good Friday. The day that Christians observe as the day Jesus hung on the cross and died. A day when death seems to have triumphed. But, of course, death wasn’t the end of the story…

As I like to do every Good Friday, I’ve perused numerous blog posts, reflections, and prayers centered on the theme of the day. One of the posts I read provided a recommended song list to listen to as an observance of Good Friday. As I perused the list, I came across one song on the list that I knew from an album I’d bought years ago. But I’d never focused much on the lyrics, until today.

The song that struck me so poignantly on that list is “What Sarah Said”, by Death Cab for Cutie. When I came across it on the list, I pulled it up on my phone and listened to it. Chills were sent down my spine. I was overwhelmed at the words of what Sarah said. I encourage you to listen to the song. Think about what Sarah said. Think of your loved ones, Remember how precious every moment we have on this earth. And, above all, remember that death never gets the final say…because death wasn’t the end of the story…

Here are the lyrics if you’d like to follow along:

And it came to me then
That every plan
Is a tiny prayer to Father Time

As I stared at my shoes
In the ICU
That reeked of piss and 409

And I rationed my breaths
As I said to myself
That I’d already taken too much today

As each descending peak
On the LCD
Took you a little farther away from me
Away from me

Amongst the vending machines
And year old magazines
In a place where we only say goodbye

It sung like a violent wind
That our memories depend
On a faulty camera in our minds

And I knew that you were truth
I would rather lose
Than to have never lain beside at all

And I looked around
At all the eyes on the ground
As the TV entertained itself

Cause there’s no comfort in the waiting room
Just nervous paces bracing for bad news
And then the nurse comes round
And everyone lifts their head
But I’m thinking of what Sarah said

That love is watching someone die

So who’s gonna watch you die?

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The Summons

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
      Will you let my love be shown,
      will you let my name be known,
Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
      Will you risk the hostile stare
      should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
      Will you kiss the leper clean
      and do such as this unseen,
And admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
      Will you use the faith you’ve found
      to reshape the world around
Through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Lord, your summons echoes true when I but call your name!
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
      In your company I’ll go
      where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

–Words & Music: John L. Bell (b. 1949) of the Iona Community

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