Go to the Limits of Your Longing by Rainer Maria Rilke
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.
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.
“Go to the limits of your longing. Embody me.” If I’m going to go to those limits of my longing, I need to identify my longing. Those inner invitations that were spoken to me at the beginning of God’s formation of me. The noise of this life threatens to drown out those heart invitations, the sound of belonging and pure desires of my soul. My heart is so fickle and the Spirit’s mystical longing seems frightening in this tangible life. That place where I am sent beyond my recall? Only in that ultimate release can I best embody the God who made me.
“Flare up like a flame and make big shadows I can move in.” At the limits of my longing and in embodying God, my flame can burn tall. The flame of the Spirit falling upon me and lighting up my heart’s desires to allow God to move. Am I flaring bright enough for God to be found dancing in the shadows of my flame? When my Spirit-fire burns low, God can’t move as freely in the shadows of my life, my heart.
“Let everything happen to you…Don’t let yourself lose me.” In both the beauty and the terror, God is with me. Can I really keep going? Through the terror of natural disasters, international unrest, social injustices, painful personal sorrows, persistent inner demons, terminal illnesses, to name only a few of life’s cruel realities. Is it true that “no feeling is final”? God is in the feelings, no matter how raw they may be. Jesus knows every feeling experienced by me. In the promise of victory resurrecting lies the transience of feelings. In the presence of the Spirit dwelling within, God can never be lost.
“Give me your hand.” An invitation that makes all the difference in this country called life.