“..believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is strength and blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.” – R.M. Rilke
I don’t know much about Rainer Maria Rilke other than that he was a poet who wrote in German. I think he was an Austrian German. But he is regarded as an intense lyrical poet. And some called his poetry “mystical,” which I would term religious or faith based. By that I mean he believed in God. I don’t know much beyond that, but I’m going to research it for my own edification.
I bring him up today for a couple of reasons. One is, the above quote is his and I loved it as soon as I stumbled upon it. I’ve known it for several years. It’s from his “Letters to a Young Poet,” I believe. To me, this is a lovely, concise description of God. He is love, we know from Scripture, and we can never “step outside of it” because God sustains us every second of every day. How could we? He never forgets us or forsakes us (Psalm 27) so how would we ever be able to travel far enough (Psalm 139)?
And the other reason I bring up R.M. Rilke is because my husband and I went to see the film Jojo Rabbit yesterday. I highly recommend it for lots of reasons. The poet and one of his poems are featured in the movie. The first line is, “God Speaks to Each of Us.” The portion quoted in the poem that I remember is emblazoned on the screen at the end.
“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
And so, when I realized that this is the same poet with other words that had moved me so years ago and then again yesterday in relation to this amazing movie, I had to spend some time meditating on the meaning of it all.
So, here’s what I’ve got – God does, indeed, speak to each of us. And in a million varied, creative, moving, sometimes puzzling, sometimes achingly beautiful or just painful ways. God is trying to get your attention. Always. He knows how much you need Him. God wants us to yearn for Him and for Heaven, eternal life with God.
Well then, we need to remember how much God loves us (see the opening quote) and how often God is speaking to us. Our Creator is always calling us to Himself, always yearning for us to look to Him, to listen, to talk to, to surrender to, Him.
And when we experience the beauty or the terror, we know we are in God’s love so that, ultimately, God will save us. God is with us always. We just need to reach out to Him, open ourselves to that grace, that love and mercy, that only God can provide. Don’t delay.
Little Jojo in the movie is looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places. Instead of looking to his mother who is described as “a good person,” which she most surely is, Jojo looks to a cause that is neither good nor concerned about his well-being as his mother and (absent in the film) father are.
Too many people in the world then (World War II) and now are looking for a place of comfort and acceptance in places and in people that are not really looking out for their best interests. If only they would hear God’s call, see His wonder, feel His presence, know His unfailing love for them.
The final line of Rilke’s poem is, “Give me your hand.” Whether that is the poet or God, I wonder. It could certainly be God. I find this intriguing that the poem excerpt at the finale of the movie is an echo of a song that is sung, in German, near the beginning. It’s the Fab Four, the legendary and timeless Beatles, singing “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” In German it’s ‘Komm gib mir deiner Hand’ (Come, give me your hand).
We all need God, and we find Him in many places, including and most importantly, in community with other people. You are never alone. If you feel like you are, reach out to others as you reach out to the God who loved you into being, and who made you in His likeness and image. We are an image of the God of the Universe, the Lord of all creation, the God who made and loves tenderly every created soul. Don’t doubt it. I’m praying for you! You’re never really lost. God sees you every second of every day, remember? That’s why you continue to be here! To live a full life, a rewarding life, you have to live it for others. And you have to let others live in it with you. Come on; take hold of the hand that wants to hold yours.
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