Monday, February 28, 2011

Responding to 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 a 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. Translation: Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows, published in Comment, Spring, 2011

Lindsey pointed this poem out to me a few mornings ago, and I couldn't keep the tears from my eyes as I read it; it captures much awareness of the brokenness of life, the boldness of God's call, the struggle for faithfulness, and the desperation for the ultimate fulfillment of God's promises.

I was so touched by Rilke's words that I took a little time to read about his life, and what I found there both shocked and intrigued me. The picture I've selected here (artist unknown) is the most flattering I could find, and the raw solemnity his face holds on all the others belays the abuse he faced and the challenges he encountered (really, do an image search of his name and see what I mean). Walking in the circles of Freud, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Rodin, and many others, Rilke's mind was steeped in many of the people that have asked some of the most bold and challenging questions of our time. While some might shy away from these types of interactions, for Rilke, the beauty of God's character emerges in his work is all the brighter for it. What a delight!

I find myself simultaneously inspired, humbled, and emboldened by his words.

It has been fun to hear from people about the words Linds and I have recorded on this blog, not to mention all the locations around the globe that people have been looking from, but regardless of location, vocation, race, gender, or even religious conviction, Rilke's words call for response:
...go to the limits of your longing.

For me and Linds, this has taken us through several states, four years of furthered education in multiple fields, an intimidating foray into trans-cultural youth ministry, many profound struggles, even more grand joys, and always an ever-deepening conviction to pursue faithfulness beyond security.

Will you "go to the limits of your longing"? If you were to try, where would it take you? It you are going already, how has it grown you? Seriously, if you've got a minute or two to post, we'd love to hear.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Self-Love...A Thing to Ponder

What was your reaction after you read the title of this post? Did you cringe a little at the idea of loving yourself? The other day while reading Biblical Christian Ethics by Dr. David Jones I got to the chapter on self-love, and was really intrigued by the discussion.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Until reading this part of the book the other day I had never pondered what it means to love myself. Even just writing that sounds kind of weird. Whenever I have read this verse in the past I have only thought about the loving your neighbor part, and never considered what it means to love my neighbor as I love myself.

If you found yourself cringing when you read that I wonder if it is because we are commanded in Scripture to deny ourselves (Luke 9:23), to look to the interest of others and not ourselves (Phil, 2:2-4), and to not be self-seeking (Romans 2:8). Yes! All of these things are true, but so is Jesus' command to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Maybe you cringed because you thought, "Why should I love myself when I can't stop sinning against my children, spouse, or friends" or when you look at yourself you think "I am stupid, I don't like my body, or I don't like the way I interact with others." Sadly, I think this is our automatic response. Yes, we are sinners and because of our brokenness and the brokenness of the world we live in we all have beliefs about ourselves that are skewed due to our personal stories and the struggles we have experienced. These things are real, and something to work through as we all continue to understand this idea more. Rather then self-love we often have self-hatred.

Jones calls loving self a moral obligation, and his view is based on a perspective originally voiced by St. Augustine. As human beings we have been made in the image of God. Therefore when we look at ourselves we are called to love the creature that God has made, and care for it as well. We as humans are called to care for our bodies, emotions, minds, and hearts. It becomes an ethical issue because how can we really love our neighbors and care for them if we don't know how to care or love ourselves?

Do you see yourself through the eyes of God? This idea of self-love is one that could so easily drive a person to self-righteousness or selfishness, but this is not what God has in mind. I will let Jones' words end this post. As the title says this is something worth pondering, and bringing before the Lord as we learn more of what He means to love him, love ourselves, and love our neighbors.

"It should be noted that the Augustinian ground for self-love has a moral imperative is derived not from the second great commandment, though that confirms it, but from the commandment to love God, who himself desires what is in our best interest...given the Biblical frame of reference in which the goal is the glory of God and the norm is the will of God, the idea of self-regarding duties is not problematic. We belong to God and are responsible to him for the preservation of our life, chastity, property, and good name, as well as that of others. It is a theocentric self-regard that is assigned paradigmatic value in the commandment to love our neighbor as ourself."


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Flaking Out

So the weather guy was promising us a blizzard today. Surprisingly, he was kinda right. We actually have been given a huge ice-storm that has given my work an hour delay in the morning and canceled school for two days in a row. Yippee, right? Yeah, kinda. The storm was enough to get us a few snow-days, but the 12 inches of snow we were supposed to get on top was reduced to 1; though we got all the benefits of the blizzard, we didn't actually get the snow.

While this shouldn't have mattered to us in any kind of huge way, it did. In fact, as we watched the cowardly news casters speak of their relief at the receding clouds we plummeted into sadness and even felt a little depressed. I'm serious too, we actually felt sad and pretty down in the dumps. It was kinda crazy how much the little kid inside came out in both us. We were promised snow, and darn it, we wanted it!

Anyway, snow or no, we did end up getting to spend the day wrapped up in blankets inside reading, playing games, and watching TV. It was good day all in all, but I really would have loved some snow.

Don't toy with my emotions, Weatherman, don't toy with my emotions.

The photo is from a REAL snow-day back in '08. That one wasn't messin' around.