God

Came across this by Rilke

What will you do, God, when I am dead?

I am your pitcher (what if I should break?)

I am your drink (what if I should perish?)

I am your robe, your craft,

You lose your meaning when I am no more.

When I am gone you have no home…

What will you do, God! I am afraid.

Rlike was very struck by these thoughts of a monk he encountered on his Russian trip. Prater* chides Rilke a bit for this conception of God as an artefact of the human imagination, but I think he has captured here something of the nature of God. Perhaps it derives from something he acquired in his exposure to Russian monasticism. It is not a million miles away from Athanasius’ remark that God became man so that man might become God. The idea is of God extending himself (if you can put it that way) into all of nature and especially into people. As we live, grow, mature, becoming less ego centric and more and more open to others, to the Other, to loving and being loved, God is born in us (as Eckhart puts it). Well, in many, perhaps countless thousands, who knows. Some do not respond. Some cannot bring themselves to respond and perhaps it is these who die to God. Read like this the poem points up the poignancy of God whose love is rejected by those he made.

*Prater, Donald; A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1986 p. 56

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