Let Everything Happen To You

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,

then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,

go to the limits of your longing.

Embody me.

Flare up like a flame

and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.

Just keep going. No feeling is final.

Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.

You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Ranier Maria Rilke, Book of Hours, I 59

Translated by Joanna Macy

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Song of Revelation

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!

The cry of the throne room of the Lord sums up the essential foundations of reality. Behind and beyond all the rising of empires, the crumbling of kingdoms, the turbulent sacrament of our time-bound world, stands the cry that never changes: holy, holy!

Caught up for a moment into a world beyond worlds, John hears these words resound with the timbre of eternity – assuring us all of the unchanging, untouchable, other-ness of God. He is the ocean floor on which our breakers rage; the atmosphere storms brew within and blow by. 

And yet he stands as close as our very breath. For Isaiah too stood in this time beyond time, bearing witness to the great cry,

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts; 

The whole earth is full of his glory!

This is the great truth of the Unchangeable One, who stands beyond and remains near. Who stands as judge and life-bearer of the world; willing to receive our pain and yet impermeable in perfection.

O Lord, who was and is and is to come: in each human life you initiate a generous and creative interplay with the world you made. Every breath we draw is a whiff of glory rising in smoke about us. Now we see that no pain can thwart the culmination of your purpose but only sweeten its joy. 



He lies on a simple mat, surrounded by the grandeur of cedar and gold. It is a chamber of whispers, silences pregnant with the sacred breath of centuries. Even the chance echoes hush their tones in reverence. 

In daytime, the temple is filled with crowds of people, priests, rabbis, singers, living and dying animals, ash and ember. Here, in the dark of night, nothing moves but the dancing flame of the Lamp of the Lord. He could not have known that one day this same Fire would descend in tongues upon his heart. 

One echo, louder than the rest, coming from such distance that it carries mountains and ravines and the cool breath of waters. 


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Annunciation, II

In her brave surrender, body forms. Flesh and bone knit together, fearfully and wonderfully, the perfect Sum of all humanity. Within her womb the cosmos and the cell are One. 

And she becomes the mother of the Church—for just so are we, strange mixtures of star and sinew, knit together across centuries into the Body of the living Christ. 

We are joined by water and blood into his own birth, passing through death and into his own life. And now we each raise our lives, dripping and screaming from their baptism, and pronounce them pathways to glory. 

Now we undergo this act of slow and hidden creation. Invisible threads are knotting corners of our hearts to the souls of long-gone years. It seems unthinkable that from these clusters of carbon and cell, growing in fits and starts and in seemingly opposite directions, will come a revelation of the Resurrection and the Life in full. 

In this dimly-lit surrender, the Body of our Lord still forms. 

Within the womb of centuries, the Cosmos and the cell are one.