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Grand Rapids, MI

Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Reflections on Rilke Part ii

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In another poem entitled Wenn es nur einmal so ganz stille ware Rilke again opens my heart and speaks my voice (as any good poet does)…

If only it were still. If the not quite right and the why this could be muted, and the neighbor’s laughter, and the static my senses make— if all of it didn’t keep me from coming awake—Then in one vast thousandfold thought I could think you up to where thinking ends.

I could possess you, even for the brevity of a smile, to offer you to all that lives, in gladness.

Rilke explains what Sabbath in nature away from the hustle-n-bustle is like for me. When the air around me is noisy, the schedule is tight, and my back spasms with stress unrelieved, it is difficult to think of God, to hear him, to possess him even for the brevity of a smile. Then I too am unable to offer him to all that lives in any form, let alone in gladness. I do my best to spend time in the woods, rivers, lakes, beaches, and mountains. They are places of refreshment for me, like the Jordan river valley was to David in the creation of his beloved poetry [cf. Psalm 42]. It is here in the places where the roots do literally go down to the water that I find God often speaks to me in the stillness. When it happens, my soul and heart awaken. The zeal builds and the lackluster faith my good-deeds busyness fosters is traded in for the fullness of the power of God’s creative and re-creative grace in my life. Then, in that brevity of a smile I too am able to offer God’s re-creative grace to all that live in gladness. David, the poet of the Old Testament understood this deeply when he wrote of the glory of God in the natural world in Psalm 104. After dancing over word-pictures of mountains and rivers, Cedars of Lebanon, leviathons, seas, rocks, and coneys he says…

These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.

You renew the face of the ground. Creation, re-creation, the infusion of grace that transforms and resurrects.


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