Honest Christianity – the real me

Bonhoeffer
Sally read a poem in her sermon this morning. She was preaching on Psalm 139, being known by God. She read out Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s poem written in 1944 a year before he was executed by the Nazis. It draws together many of the values and inspirations of our “Honesty Christianity” and “Go the distance” blogs. Who am I really? Who am I to you? What do you see when you see me? Who am I to God? We are exploring the answers to these questions for ourselves and perhaps you might want to also…

WHO AM I?
Who am I? They often tell me
I would step from my cell`s confinement
calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They also tell me
I would talk to my warders
freely and friendly and clearly,
as though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I would bear the days of misfortune
equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself,
restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
yearning for colours, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
thirsting for words of kindness, for neighbourliness,
trembling with anger at despotisms and petty humiliation,
tossing in expectation of great events,
powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today, and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.

Reference: Prison Poems of Dietrich Bonhoeffer trans Edwin Robertson. Eagle: 1998.

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