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Posts Tagged ‘Bonhoeffer’

One of Bonhoeffer’s last poem,  “Who Am I?”  deserves another hearing:

 

Who am I? They often tell me

I would step from my cell’s confinement

Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,

Like a squire from his country-house.

 

Who am I? They often tell me

I would talk to my warders

freely and friendly and clearly,

as though it were mine to command.

 

Who am I? They also tell me

I would bear the days of misfortune

Equably, smilingly, proudly,

Like one accustomed to win.

 

Am I then really all that which men tell of?

Or am I only what I know of myself,

Restless and longing and sick like a bird in a cage,

Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,

 

Yearning for colours, for flowers, for the voices of birds,

Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,

Trembling with anger at despotisms and petty humiliation,

Tossing in expectation of great events,

Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,

Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making

Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

 

Who am I? This or the other?

Am I one person today, and tomorrow another?

Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,

And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?

Or is something within me still like a beaten army,

Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

 

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.

Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.

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Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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O God, early in the morning I cry to you. Help me to pray and gather my thoughts to you, I cannot do it alone. In me it is dark, but with you there is light; I am lonely, but you do not desert me; My courage fails me, but with you there is help; I am restless, but with you there is peace; in me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience; I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me. Father in Heaven praise and thanks be to you for the night’s rest, Praise and thanks be to you for the new day. Praise and thanks be to you for all your loving-kindness and faithfulness in my past life. You have shown me so much goodness; let me also accept what is hard to bear from your hand. You will not lay a heavier burden on me than I can carry. You make all things serve for the best for your children. Lord, whatever this day brings, your name be praised. © Dietrich Bonhoeffer – prayer written in Tegel prison, Berlin

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