Sabbath at the beach this week brought to mind this question: what have I been holding up as “negotiable” that is actually a “non-negotiable”? When have I allowed external sources to weigh in on something that is too true to be up for debate?
I re-read Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. I melted at its beauty. And I thought of how his words are true for more than for writing – for living. I quote him now, but replace “write” with “live*”, for perhaps these are the same things.
“You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to live*; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to live*. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I live*? Dig into yourself for a deep answer.
And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple, ‘I must,’ then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose.”
Vacation with small children held no time to think more of these things. But I wisely extended my vacation for one more Sabbath morning. Drew and the boys went to church and my feet hit the pavement for miles (one of the most powerful forms of worship I know). Eight miles later, I have ten core values which speak to who I am and who I strive to be.
Must I live?
And I must in this way.
- Nurture dependence upon Creator, Savior, and Spirit – without whom nothing is possible and with whom everything is possible
- Conform to Christ alone, forgoing the world’s standards and the accolades that come with meeting them.
- Love the church even more than I serve it.
- Be a faithful steward of family and friends as if they are gifts to be tended.
- Prepare to love the stranger so that the stranger becomes friend.
- Seek out the eternal (the lasting) that hides within the temporal (the passing).
- See beauty in the unfolding, rather than waiting for the finished product.
- Invite growth and contentment to hold hands so that one doesn’t get ahead of the other
- Create. Give it away. Repeat.
- Choose to run more miles. Pace myself.
Thanks be to God for each mile along the way.