Rainer Maria Rilke (part two)


rainerLast week I mentioned The Enlightened Heart calling him the greatest poet of the 20th century. I find in Rainer Rilke’s writing a profound Christian faith whose depth reaches beneath and before orthodoxy to something psychologically astute, mystically ancient and (almost) inexplicable. I find in numbers of his poems things I didn’t know I knew that have kinship with eastern abstraction and Letting Go of ego, while maintaining a more familiar western personality.

His writing is very beautiful, but often in dark fashion where I am both in awe and a bit fearful. Death is never very far away in Rilke. If what he says is true – and in my quietest moments his words seem utterly true to me – then the Good News might be less black and white than we are typically led to believe, but also powerfully intimate, extraordinarily intra-psychic and personally relevant.

In other words perfect for Passion Week, now all but upon us. pasion

pasionThe longing so common in his poetry often is related to childhood and nostalgia, to innocence lost. That memory and ache is what Rilke likens to the Spiritual Quest. It is all a bit of a Return.

Last week I posted “I love the dark hours of my being.” This week the first and last stanzas of “As once the winged energy of delight…” found on page 133 of Mitchell’s Enlightened Heart:

As once the winged energy of delight

carried you over childhood’s dark abysses,

now beyond your own life build the great

arch of unimagined bridges…

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out

until they span the chasm between two

contradictions…for the god

wants to know himself in you.

Sunday we will be discussing in worship this bridging of chasms, this putting together contradictions for the sake of letting God be known in us. Triumphal Entry and Last Supper are the Bible Texts. I hope you will join us, because regardless of how good you find the sermon there are extraordinary insights being shared on a regular basis by the members of our faith community.

Looking forward to seeing you in worship –

Pastor Don