Acton Institute Powerblog

Go to the Limits of Your Longing

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In the latest video blog from For the Life of the World, Evan Koons recites Rainer Maria Rilke’s powerful poem, “Go to the Limits of your Longing” from Book of Hours.

“In this poem is the whole of what it means to live for the life of the world,” Koons explains. “God speaks to each of us as he makes us.”

The poem offers a compelling complement to the conclusion of the series, in which Stephen Grabill reminds us that the “church maintains the hope of the not yet by living the kingdom now.” We are the “lived memory of God’s purposes in the world,” he says. “The church is called to be the very embodiment of the kingdom to come.”

As Koons says in the video above:

According to Rilke, this is what God says: You, sent out beyond your recall, you, born in the tension, born in a world struggling to remember home, to remember God himself, go to the limits of your longing. Plumb the depths of your desire. Go into the darkness around you. It is me you are searching for.

“Embody me,” says Rilke. Live my memory in that darkness. Be my hands, be my feet, be my look of love to the world. “Flare up like a flame and make big shadows I can move in.” You and I are the light of the world. Let us live into this revelation, this abundance, this hope; live it out. Let us participate with God, who knows no darkness, who moves and works for his glory in all things.

“Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror,” because it will. Life in Christ is a life lived by way of the Cross. Rilke continues with God’s voice: “Just keep going. No feeling is final. Don’t let yourself lose me.” Do not fear. You will dwell in the house of the Lord and God will be exalted among the nations. “Nearby is the country they call life. You will know it by its seriousness.” Remember that the kingdom of God is in your midst. It’s in you. Pour yourself out in this life, for it is an image of the next.

longing2We are the body of Christ. It is Him we are looking for, and as we continue to prepare ourselves for the bridegroom in our position of exile, let us heed Rilke and go to the limits of our longing: with love and blessing, out of obedience and worship, and in true freedom and abundance.

Joseph Sunde is an associate editor and writer for the Acton Institute. His work has appeared in venues such as The Federalist, First Things, The City, The Christian Post, The Stream, Charisma News, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work. Joseph resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and four children.

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