Last week I declared myself post-evangelical thanks to the World Vision debacle (for explanation see Part 1 and Part 2. 10,000 children lost their sponsorships as a result). This week, I’ve wrestled and grieved deeply. I grew up in conservative evangelicalism and I love my faith and my family and my church home, but my views are shifting. I’m in the process of discerning what it means to stay and what it means to leave, and what it means when Jesus asks us to love our neighbors as ourselves. I don’t have much to say at this point, and a lot of it has already been said by dozens of others ad nauseam.
But I thought I’d share this Rilke poem with you, because it found me in my hour of need one morning last week. These days my best attempt at spiritual practice and communing with God looks like a cup of coffee, a bit of breakfast, and a few pages from Rilke’s Book of Hours or Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel.
“You too will find your strength.
We who must live in this time
cannot imagine how strong you will become –
how strange, how surprising,
yet familiar as yesterday.
We will sense you
like a fragrance from a nearby garden
and watch you move through our days
like a shaft of sunlight in a sickroom.
We will not be herded into churches
for you are not made by the crowd,
you who meet us in our solitude.
We are cradled close in your hands-
and lavishly flung forth.” – Rilke, II, 26
Just as Rilke’s words foretold, God met me in my solitude. The poem, like all those that I’m most drawn to, illuminated the part of my heart that felt lost and wandering. When my heart weighed heavily on the events of last week and whether to call myself evangelical or if it even mattered, here was this quiet, loving reminder :
God walks with each of us in our wilderness.
We all wrestle with answers to difficult questions and find our own paths. But my hope is that we stay sensitive to the movement of the Spirit. My hope is that we pay close attention, that we sense His Grace like a fragrance from a nearby garden, that we listen to the suffering people among us long enough to see Him moving through our days like a shaft of sunlight in a sickroom. Whatever we call ourselves – Christian or non, straight or LGBTQ, conservative or liberal, evangelical or whatever; wherever we go – into churches or homes or bars or tables in the wilderness – we will all be met with the surprise of His presence, a Love beyond our imagination. The question each of us must ask ourselves is this : Are we moving with Him? Or are we trying to close a door on people that He has already opened?
We are held in His hands and lavishly flung forth into the world so that we can live and love just as lavishly. May we do so, and with abundance.
Some other words from the last two weeks that were my sunlight in the sickroom :
Sarah Bessey’s words for the ones who leave and the ones who stay.
More than anything other voice I’ve encountered in the LGBTQ community, it is Ben Moberg and his stories that have moved my heart and mind. His posts on the World Vision situation, “When World Vision Drops Me” and “May We Never Stop Speaking,” are full of grace and challenge. (Warning: read with Kleenex in hand.)
“The agent of healing is an outlier who Jesus purposely placed in the role of honor.” – Jen Hatmaker.
“We are resurrection people.” – Rachel Held Evans.