Monday, July 29, 2013
Reflections: Prayers to a Lowly God and The Sickness unto Death
I learned to pray from Rainer Maria Rilke.
Years after learning the form of things as a little child, prayer came to me all out of the night, in a scrap of paper: "Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now." In those words I found my voice and began a love affair with the One Who wanted to hear.
I learned to see from Rilke as he watched Italian Madonnas nurse their growing sons..as he traced the shadows under Icon eyes and mourned the loneliness of God, waiting among His candles and scented air..ready to greet "all the immense images in me .. and those powerful lands that were once pulsing with the life of the gods" as friends I have known and seen before.
But I learned to live from Soren Kierkegaard, who held my hand and whispered that it is good to stand alone, that "every life preoccupied with being like others is a wasted life, a lost life." And it's his kind voice - uncertain and full of haunted dreams - that guides me as I move in this month of quiet retreat. As I remove myself from groups that weighed me down with their refusal to allow growth, that offer comforting pats of affirmation but balk at building charity.
I'm learning as I grow that I've less and less patience with the habit of making peace for the sake of avoiding uncomfortable disagreements. And in this Kierkegaard is my guide, though I am blessed in ways he was not - with a family to love me though the arguments, and friends to smile on my hopeless dreams and over-reaching efforts. In August I'll hold both my mentors in reserve, and reach forward, to one I've only met in passing - Gregory of Nyssa, who's Life of Moses sits beside my bed, waiting. I've read bits of him in Kathleen Norris - we share a love of the quotidian, of darkness, and of the God who can be found in both. I'm looking forward to learning more.