Category Archives: body and soul

My first sermon – the actual text

Good Morning. As you can imagine I am a bit nervous, standing in front of you like this for the first time. And I am even more nervous because I will be unconventional, radical even right now: I will be sharing my thoughts on how I read today’s gospel with you and standing up there behind the lectern would imply that I know more than you and am trying to teach you, which is not what I am doing. However, if I am standing down here, Andrew and Richard are at my back. And apart from that making me even more nervous, I also don’t want to develop a crick in my neck trying to look at them once in a while! So, here is the radical part: Andrew and Richard, would you please come and sit down here with us?

Coincidentally, being unconventional and even radical is a big part of what I read in today’s gospel. Jesus tells us a story of a shepherd and his sheep. He calls them, they come, and they certainly don’t listen to the thief climbing over the wall, they only listen to their shepherd. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? All is good, the sheep are safe and everyone lived happily ever after. Right? I don’t see this in the world as it is today. Not at all. It is more like the opposite of what I see!

There has to be more to this story. So let’s have a closer look. One really important image in this story is humanity as a herd of sheep. This image is used again and again in the bible both in the OT and NT. We are quite used to it by now and most of the time we take a look at what the shepherd does. Today I would like to take a look at the sheep in the story. Sheep are rather simple minded, they follow each other, panic at the slightest provocation and all of these mean they sometimes run over the edge of a cliff. We, the humans, can be quite similar to this: We focus on the easy-to-understand things in life, follow each other – listening to the same music, wearing the same clothes and so on – and sometimes this actually leads to our own destruction.

Being German I maybe have a special relationship with this behaviour. My grandfathers were volunteers for the army in 1939. They were excited to defend their country and restore its honour which they felt had been destroyed at the end of WW1 and the following years. They had seen the economic successes of Hitler and the 3rd Reich and were looking forward to a bright future for Germany and for themselves. But essentially they were good people. And so I grew up with one grandfather telling us children over and over again how stupid he had been and that he regretted nothing more than signing up for war. The other never spoke to me about his time as a soldier nor, as far as I know, to anyone else. I can only imagine that it was too painful for him. Only after he died, did we find some letters he wrote to his sister during his time at the front and in prison just after the war. The letters started off very happily, war was all sunshine and fun. But bit by bit the tone changed and though he couldn’t very well tell his sister explicitly, it is obvious that he lost his faith in the war and realised that it had been a terrible idea.

My grandfathers only realised what their mistake when it was already too late. They were caught in a flood that was just pulling them along and they could not find a way out. Of course theirs is a rather extreme example, but aren’t we all sometimes caught up in something we know is wrong? A lie leads to more lies until we have woven a tight net we can’t seem to escape, gossip divides us from each other and building a bridge across the divide becomes impossible, we do something even though we know it’s wrong. We literally cannot help ourselves.

So now, instead of it being happily ever after, everything is all doom and gloom? We always follow the herd and it leads us away from the shepherd towards the thief?

No. If there was no hope, there would have been no Jesus! The point I see in today’s Gospel is this: Jesus calls for us. Then, when the watchman opens the gate and the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd, they follow him.

I’d like to talk a little bit about this calling from Jesus. When I was writing this sermon I was not sure I could do it. This was not because I don’t have the ability to speak in public or because I didn’t think my English was good enough but that Jesus calls me the same as all of you. I don’t know more than anyone else!

I have a confession to make. When I asked Andrew and Richard to come and sit down here I didn’t really do it because of my neck. I asked them because Jesus calls them the same as everyone, there is no one called more or called less, and it doesn’t matter whether you are a priest, postulant, come to church regularly or never at all – Jesus is calling you!

You might not realise you are hearing Jesus’ call. Rarely do we experience this call consciously – it only happened twice in my life, both of which were the most awesome experience and really changed me. The clarity and understanding of the beauty of God’s love and forgiveness were truly amazing.

Most of the time though, we don’t get that but we still can hear the call. God is talking to us by other means and they can be anything: other people, poetry, songs, hymns, really anything. For example, when we had the vision day, the young people decided to start a home group. There was no bright light shining down from heaven but I know it was still God calling us to do it. And you being here today is also answering God’s call, no matter what other reasons you might have. My family is here to support me, yo0u might come every week or for any other reason but today Jesus called all of us together to experience fellowship with each other, praise God and to listen for his call.

Often we cannot hear Jesus calling us. We are too caught up in our lives, we are distracted by our own lives. My grandfathers were full of pride for their country, anger at the other countries and seduced by their desire for the acceptance by others.

I wish there was a recipe to follow that works for everyone but there really isn’t. There are as many ways to open up to God’s calling as your imagination permits. They do all have one thing in common: We need to pay attention! We need to make sure that we are NOT too distracted to hear it blasting in our ears.

Because we can be sure of one thing, no matter whether we have experienced it or not:

Jesus calls out to every single one of us because he knows that, as sinful as we are, as many mistakes as we make, we are worth it and we CAN get it right! Jesus believes in you!

He believes in you so much, that he died for you on the cross and defeated death. Jesus loves you and he believes in you and he is calling for YOU!

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, body and soul, Community, My calling, New Testament, Prayer

Listening

There is something really powerful about having someone’s full attention and knowing they are listening to every word I am saying. It is no less powerful to give someone your full attention and listen to every word they say. You connect with the other person, you get to know them on a new level, no matter what you are talking about, and a new understanding is found. All of this makes listening one of the most important things we can do for others. Listening alone can make a huge difference in someone’s life and sometimes it is the only thing left to do.

Jesus told us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Unfortunately this is hard and gets even harder if we don’t know anything about them. Caring about some nameless and faceless person is infinitely more difficult that caring about someone we know. Therefore I believe, that one part of our Christian calling should be to know as much as possible about the people we meet so that we might love them. If we love our neighbours, we want to be there for them and help them when they need our help. Again, if we don’t listen, we don’t know what they might need and we don’t know how we might help them. Sometimes the best help is just listening and being there.

At University I joined a Nightline, a listening service run by students for students. That means students sit at a phone at night waiting for their fellow students to call, to talk through a problem they are experiencing. This can be anything, from stress with an assignment to a break-up or even worse. By talking it through with the volunteer, the student has someone when nobody else might be available, they can clear their mind and sort through their options. The idea for it was born in Exeter more than 40 years ago and has spread rapidly. The first German Nightline was founded in 1997 and now there are 15.

As a Nightliner I was able to experience the joy and satisfaction that comes with being there for someone who is going through great turmoil, and it has pressed upon me the importance of also listening to others “in real life”. In our society we learn much about how to express ourselves to others. We tend to forget that without people receiving the information and seeing us for what we are, there is something important missing. What is point of being able to tell everyone exactly what you think if nobody is listening?

As a Christian I feel that it is part of my calling to achieve a better understanding between people. I hope that by supporting and promoting the art of listening we can make a difference in how we see each other. I am sure that if we listen to each other’s needs, it will also change how we treat each other and the world will be a better place because of it.

Leave a comment

Filed under body and soul, Ethics, Life stories

The Nature of Calling

Molnár József: Ábrahám kiköltözése

Molnár József: Abraham (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days ago I wrote about how I had had two upheavals in my faith and I told you about one of them. The reason, that I didn’t talk about the second one is, that I am not quite sure myself yet. How do you know that God is calling you? There are many, many stories about God calling people in both the Old Testament and the New Testament and every calling seems to be quite unique ad at the same time they all seem to be similar in some way. It confuses me. I thought I knew what my calling was going to be and I was ready for it and happy but it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that it is not happening and I am finding myself at a loss. What am I doing? Did I completely miss the point? How can I get back on track, and was it the right track? If not, how do I find the right one?

Reading about Abraham being called by God to just up and leave with only his faith in God as reassurance that things would work out, I feel similarly. In a kind of limbo, not seeing where I am going and even struggling with where I am coming from. I know I am just supposed to have faith and happily follow along but, honestly, I hat this. It is horrible not to know. I am sure as much as Abraham believed in God, he also had doubts and wanted to know where he was going to go. All he had was this vague promise, that God will show him the land. Well, I have a not-so-vague promise that God is always with me and guides me and will rescue me at the end of time but right now that doesn’t seem very helpful. Don’t get me wrong, I draw a lot of energy from my faith and God and the community in my church and all of this is amazingly helpful in itself. Yet, sometimes, rather often, I think to myself: But what am I doing? And I wish God would answer that question. And I know that eventually he will. (But can’t it be sooner, rather than later, please?)

2 Comments

Filed under body and soul, Old Testament, Prayer

Open Church

Eglwys Gadeiriol S. Philip, Birmingham

St. Philip’s Cathedral, Birmingham (Photo credit: Dogfael)

Every Saturday my church opens its doors to anyone who wants to come in. Volunteers staff it for two hours, and people come in to pray, look around, get a tour or just talk to the volunteers about church stuff (like weddings, baptisms, Christianity) or just chat. It’s great, I’ve volunteered myself a few times and you get to meet and chat to some very nice people. I don’t like that it is only open on a Saturday, though, Shouldn’t a church be always open to anyone, so that anyone ca come in to pray ad find a quiet space to just be for a while? I know, I know, you need somebody there to make sure nobody steals anything or vandalizes the place, for insurance reasons etc. etc. I am not talking about the practical side (which I understand makes it impossible for every church) but just generally, can we agree on it? Even the cathedral in the town centre is only open until 5 o’clock and then closes until the next morning. I get that it is expensive to keep a church ope but I also think that it is sad that we can’t make it possible in at least one church per city. A church should be a refuge for anyone who needs it whenever they need it, be it in the middle of the night or at noon on a Wednesday.

Leave a comment

Filed under body and soul, Community, Prayer

Why bother?

English: An image of Psalm 23 (King James' Ver...

English: An image of Psalm 23 (King James’ Version), frontispiece to the 1880 omnibus printing of The Sunday at Home. Scanned at 800 dpi. Français : Illustration du Psaume 23 (version autorisée par le roi Jacques), en frontispice de l’édition omnibus du Sunday at home. Version numérisée à 800 dpi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My post The Book poses the question of why would I read the Bible if I don’t think all of it is true? Well,  I will talk about the spiritual side later, but even if you don’t believe in God at all, I think, reading the Bible is not the worst decision you can make.

There is beautiful poetry in the Bible.

Everyone (or almost everyone) knows Psalm 23. The Lord is my shepherd… with all its beautiful imagery. And ther are many, many more beautiful Psalms in this section of the Bible alone; some of my favourites are Psalms 23, Psalm 100 (mostly because I sang it in an amazing song once) and Psalm 103. But that is not the only poetry in the Bible, not even close to it. Lamentations are heartbreakingly hopeless and regretful (plus a very small section that is heartbreakingly hopeful) and the Song of Songs… well you really wouldn’t expect language like that in the Bible! But you can feel the love the lover and beloved have for each other and it is full of joy. Ecclesiastes also has some amazing poetry. Then there are the many canticles; the song that random people sing to God throughout the whole Bible, my favourite being the Magnificat, sung by Mary after the visit of the angel who told her she was going to have a child. Maybe it is because I have heard and sung it many times over the years but every time time I read her humble and yet joyful praise, I feel the same way. Powerful language is present throughout the Bible but it starts right at the beginning with Genesis 1. A beautiful poem on the beginning of the world and its beauty.

Many, many good stories

Whether you like romance or adventure or political thrillers, there is something for everyone in the Bible. There are battles (in too much detail for my taste, but maybe you like that sort of thing), bad Kings (who tyrannise their people and decide that the Law doesn’t apply to them), wise men who get killed for telling the truth – you can find the whole nadwidth of human idiocy and its results in here. My favourites are the story of Susanna (actually in the Apocrypha, for Protestants and part of Daniel for everyone else) who gets falsely accused of adultery and is on the verge of being killed when Daniel the prophet rushes to her rescue and identifies the true culprits (who tried to rape her in this legal thriller) and the story of Deborah who shows the men of her time what a true woman is capable of (gender issues are not all that new it turns out).

There is a lot of wisdom to be found

If you’ve never looked into a Bible you won’t know this but a lot of the sayings and phrases in English (and also German, and I’m sure in many other languages) are direct copies of things written in the Bible. It’s because they are just universally true. Especially Proverbs is a great source of these, but if you have the chance to read the Wisdom of Solomon (again the Apocrypha for Protestants) you will actually find a lot of Wisdom there.
A lot of it, and this is true for much of the Bible actually, makes you think, it challenges you on a deep level and you start to consider how something relates to your own life. I like the challenge and often find, that even if I disagree with something I can usually find a way to learn from it.

How many books can do all of the above? (If you do know one, please tell me because I’ll want to read it, too.) Even if you are not at all interested in spirituality or the existence of God, reading the Bible can enrich your life and help you to understand yourself and the world around you in a different way.

1 Comment

Filed under Bible, body and soul, History, Philosophy, Poetry

Isaiah 41:13

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

This is my favourite verse in the Old Testament. The promise expressed through it is truly comforting and heart-warming. Yes, it is true: We are not alone. Thank you, God, for giving me this message.

1 Comment

Filed under body and soul, Old Testament

Thoughtful entertainment

Iona

Iona (Photo credit: wjmarnoch)

Generally, I think, we divide what we do in entertainment (stuff for fun) and thoughtful things and we never quite expect them to happen at the same time. Today I was reminded that it is perfectly possible to make people laugh and not be frivolous at the same time. Also I was encouraged to think. What an evening! I was lucky enough to go to a workshop organised by John Bell, a member  of the Iona Community. Members of the Iona community, which was founded in 1938, live their normal lives but commit to the Rule; which means that they are accountable to the community for their income and time, they pray and read the Bible daily and they are committed to promote justice, peace and the integrity of creation. Also they meet regularly. There are centres on the Iona island ( which is where they get their name from), the island of Mull and in Glasgow where people can visit and join them for worship. You can find out lots more on their website. They also have developed their own style of worship. here is how they describe it:

 It is direct, and to the point, allowing the ancient buildings and beautiful surroundings to speak for themselves. It is relevant and challenging, reflecting the Community’s engaged spirituality and its concern to ‘find new ways to touch the hearts of all’. And it is inclusive and accessible in language and gospel.

Tonight we were talking about psalms and their role and place I worship. I only discovered the psalms as a medium for prayer fairly recently (before that they had always seemed very archaic and irrelevant to my life in the modern world) and after tonight I have become a convert to praying by psalm. We sang many. many songs that were just adapted psalms and they were all beautiful and meaningful. Some were sad, some triumphant, some atoning and others grateful. The whole spectrum of reasons to talk to God was covered with brilliant music and an even better speaker. John Bell really is hilarious, not least thanks to his Scottish accent (which to a German will always sound exotic and cute, probably like an English accent sound to an American). His stories made the psalms come to life and he gave a great many ideas about how to include them in everyday worship. Probably quite a few people feel similarly to how felt not too long ago about them and would resist their introduction. What nearly brought me down to my knees, was when he was talking about how in today’s songs God is always praised but we never bring our fears and sorrows before him anymore. He then gave us an example of what this might look like and I almost started to cry. It just pushed so many of my buttons. And that is when I realised that this is exactly what I had been missing; this is what God is best at: to bring my fears and whatever is wrong in my life to him and tell him about them and then receiving his strength to let me cope with them. We really don’t do that enough anymore. I am resolved to at least make it a part of my daily prayer from now on. I wish I could share this song with you, but, alas, it is not on youtube. However, if you have the chance to see or work with John Bell, do it. You will not be disappointed.

Leave a comment

Filed under body and soul, Community, Music

The greatest gift in the universe

Pears

I was watching the film “City of Angles” the other day and beside the premise being a bit cooky and the love story a little soppy, there is something about this film that makes me sigh. For me it is the amazing way we are made to feel and see everyday experiences in a new light thanks to the long scenes where nothing much happens but the actors are reading/ smelling/ touching/ hearing or tasting something. The great soundtrack by Gabriel Yared compliments those beautifully. At several points during the film did I think: Wow!, sometimes because of the music, sometimes because of the story and sometimes because of what was said.

The music is the perfect mix of meaningful songs (that a musical amateur like me would otherwise never have heard of) and original composition, thoughtful and touching. I am listening to it right now. The story is a little soppy and the premise, well, let’s not get into that, but throughout the whole film, from the very beginning to the very end, the actors are showing us how it feels to them to experience many things. For example in one scene Nicolas Cage (Seth) asks Meg Ryan (Maggie), what a pear tastes like. She asks him whether he’s never tasted pear before and he replies that he doesn’t know what a pear tastes like for her. She goes on to eat the pear and describe its taste. It made me think about my everyday experiences and how special they really are and that I spent far too much time obsessing about the future and way too little time in the moment. When, in our hectic lives, do we ever take the time really enjoy a piece of fruit we are eating, or the sun shining in our face? I have seconds where I feel a little like that sometimes but I never enjoy them as much as I should because there are things I have to do and places I have to get to and I am in a hurry, often. Watching this film made me remember that there is more to life than running from one activity and place to another. I have decided to remember it more often and to linger the next time I have a moment like that.

Last but definitely not least, there is some amazing dialogue going on in this film. My favourite piece is the following, between a former angel-turned-human Nathaniel and the protagonist Seth:

Nathaniel Messinger: “Listen, kid: he [God] gave these bozos the greatest gift in the universe — you think he didn’t give it to us, too?”

Seth: “Which gift?”

Nathaniel Messinger: “Free will, brother. Free will.”

I had to stop the movie here because this struck me dumb. It is such a profound truth that we never remember it: We have free will and we use it every day. And it is an amazing gift from God. We really should appreciate it a lot more because without it we would be nothing. God loves us so much that he gave us the power to do whatever we want with our lives, he let’s us make our own mistakes because that is the only way we can learn. So, using a ridiculous story, this film manages to teach us something about ourselves and our normal everyday lives. I am impressed.

Leave a comment

Filed under body and soul, Philosophy, TV and Film

Evening Prayer and rain

Gully flooding update #2

I am a little disgruntled. When I left the house about an hour ago to walk to church for the evening prayer, the weather looked just fine with light cloud cover and now and then some blue sky peaking through. I decided to not take a coat since it is really too warm for one anyway. The evening prayer was really nice, like always. When I went to our evening prayer for the first time i was surprised how much it is like the Vesper of the Catholic Church. I don’t know about you, but for me going to a service and knowing what comes next is very calming and helps me to let go and just be. I don’t have to be on the lookout what is happening next because I already know. Does that make sense? What I like about evening prayer, also, is that the whole service is meditational (my browser tells me this is not a word and suggest denotational as an alternative but I’m sure you understand what I mean), because we read psalms and canticles, scripture and pray together, some of it in silence. It’s a great way to connect to God in a more private way than in a Sunday family service. That is also something I really like about Taize services. But I digress. When the evening prayer had finished and we stepped outside it was raining like crazy and I got soaked when walking home. I hate getting wet. My hair had been blow-dried and everything and now it is just limply hanging around my face looking like, well not like much. I guess it was an unwelcome reminder that vanity is not something to take on as a facet of my personality but really, if I may say so myself, I am not all that vain. I just like to have the effort show when I make it. Well, I was reminded and say thank you in a grudging, teenager kind of way. To God we’re probably all teenagers anyways, breaking the rules time and time again, not learning our lessons and talking back to him. Thankfully he is very understanding!

Leave a comment

Filed under body and soul, CoE, Community, Prayer, Taize

Feeling it

 

After talking about how great it is to be part of a community before, I was struck today by how easy it is to include people. My parish is doing a fairly good job I think, although it is not too difficult for a parish in a suburb where everyone has lived all their life and knows each other really well. Sometimes though, there are new people (like me) and sometimes people don’t get included when they could be. Today we had a get-together of the young people, that is the age group of 18 -early 30s, the second one so far. It was a great opportunity to meet new people (I didn’t know half of the people there despite having been an active member of the parish for about a year) to get to know the people you do know better and to have a good time. We laughed hysterically, ate really good food, prepared by our gracious host (one of the group), and just had conversations that were new and nice and – well, funny. I know that on Sunday I will see some of these people again and I will feel comfortable with instigating a conversation and feel more  a member of the parish for it. Knowing who people are and some basic information about them is, I think, what makes us feel part of a group. When X says, have you heard that Y’s son broke his leg? and you know what they look like and maybe even that Y’s son is a great swimmer, it feels so much more personal and included. Meetings like today’s are, I think, the backbone of any community. Giving people a platform where they can get to know each other in an informal or even formal way, is what makes the difference between an active community and a group of people who all go to the same place every Sunday. I am really glad I went today and I am sure thanks to this new group I will feel so much more included. I am grateful that I got to meet some more people my age because frankly, I had started to think that there were only 4 of us in the whole congregation, and tonight there were 12 of us. Just like that the number of possible friends tripled. We got our inspiration from a neighbour parish who have had a similar group for a while and have had very good experiences with it. Especially this age range is easy to overlook because most churches have something for children and parents but the group of people who are neither is growing. Tonight’s get-together was a resounding success and everyone had already some ideas of what to do the next time we meet. Isn’t it a great feeling when you meet new people and you like them?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under body and soul, CoE, Community

My treasure chest

English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade...

I read a lot. And I mean it; a lot. In an average week I probably read about 5 – 10 books ( it depends on the length of the books and how much I like them; books I like I finish a lot faster). Sometimes I read 4 books in a day but, of course, that is generally during the weekend. What kind of book I read depends on my mood and the books available, for example I might read a YA dystopian novel and the next one is a romance and the next science fiction… you get the point. I also like reading poetry and non-fiction; newspapers and essays (and blogs 😉  ). Because I read so much,the books sometimes blend into one another. I read books I like more than once (sometimes more than ten times although I have to really love those) but, as you can imagine, I forget a lot of them. Since my budget is limited, I also borrow a lot of the books I read and when I give them back, I can’t look at them again.

But every now and then I find a phrase, a poem or just a line that speaks to me in a special way. This can be anything. I want to keep these little treasures, where I can look at them again and again and again, some I learn by heart, some I just like re-reading. Some I share with my friends. So, almost 10 years ago, I started a sort of “quotes diary”. I call it my treasure chest and I use it almost every day. Not to write in, that doesn’t happen all that often and the rather thin book is just about halfway full, leaving lots of space for future findings, but to read in. Whenever I feel I need a break from thinking or worrying, I open my treasure chest and leaf through it until I find something that catches my eye that particular day/moment/situation. The book itself is not very beautiful, a dark blue with a maritime themed picture in the middle and an anchor in the bottom right corner (my grandmother who is a little obsessed with that kind of thing gave it to me) but that doesn’t matter in the slightest. I love this book. Let me share some of its treasures with you. There are a lot of quotes from the Bible in there and I guess in keeping with my blog’s theme I should choose some of those, but I am sure they will come up later and so I have decided on the following two:

Victor Hugo:

Do you know what these piles of ordure are, collected at the corners of streets, those carts of mud carried off at night from streets, the frightful barrels of the nightman, and the fetid streams of subterranean mud which the pavement conceals from you? All this is a flowering field, it is green grass, it is mint, thyme, and sage; it is game, it is cattle, it is the satisfying lowing of heavy kine; at night it is perfumed hay, it is gilded wheat, it is bread on your table, it is warm blood in your veins, it is health, it is joy, it is life.

I don’t know from which text this is an excerpt. I found it in a chemistry book on the environmental impact of sewage (yes, I am serious). It is such a great acclamation of the different forms that life can take and that they are all interconnected, my spirit lifts whenever I read it. Thank you, Victor Hugo!

Forgetmenot Flowers

Keith Douglas (died 6th June 1944):
 
Vergissmeinnicht
 
Three weeks gone and the combatants gone
returning over the nightmare ground
we found the place again and found
the soldier sprawling in the sun.
 
 The frowning barrel of his gun
overshadowing. As we came on
that day he hit my tank with one
like the entry of a clemon
 
Look. Here in the gunpit spoil
the dishonoured picture of his girl,
who has put: Steffi. Vergissmeinnicht.
in a copybook gothic script.
 
We see him almost with content,
abased and seeming to have paid
and mocked at by his own equipment
that’s hard and good when he’s decayed.
 
But she would weep to see today
How on his skin the swart flies move
the dust upon the paper eye
and the burst stomach like a cave.
 
For here the lover and killer are mingled
who had one body and one heart.
And death who has the soldier singled
has done the lover mortal hurt.
 

I find this poem amazing and touching because it brings home the horrors of war by humanising the enemy soldier and recognising, that killing the enemy is killing another human being. I think most soldiers very likely purposefully forget that because it is just too terrible to think about, and the fact that Keith Douglas was able to recognise it and feel it, makes me feel in awe of him. He must have been a great person, a good man and it is terrible that he had to die in a war, although at least this one was for a good cause. Every time I read this poem I am reminded that good people come in lots of shapes and disguises and that something beautiful (like this poem) can still be born from something terrible (the war).

I am always on the lookout for more so if you have a favourite poem, quote or other piece of writing, do share it with me.I am grateful that there are so many different ways of inspiration out there and every time I find something new, I am grateful again; for the unique ability of the human species to form beauty with simple words and the many. many  ingenious people in history who were able to use that ability to its highest.

Leave a comment

Filed under body and soul, Philosophy, Poetry

To Him We Shall Return

Capital, column and arch in Alhambra of Granad...

I found this amazing poem by Jalal al Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273 from Persia) which describes his thoughts on life after death and it is truly inspiring:

I died as a mineral and I became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less for dying?
Yet, once more, I shall die as man
to soar with the angels blest.
But even from angelhood I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel soul, I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist,
for non-existence proclaims in organ tones,

To Him We Shall Return

2 Comments

Filed under body and soul, Famous Theologians, Islam, Life after Death, Other religions, Poetry, Resurrection

Life after death

Both my grandmothers have been diagnosed with cancer in the last few months and while they are both doing fine and will likely live for quite some time yet; I have been thinking more and more about what happens after we die. There are so many questions and as many answers. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t believe that we will be divided into “good” people and “bad” people, and go to to heaven or hell and that’s it. I also don’t believe in purgatory, although I kind of like the idea that really bad people have to suffer and pay a price for what they did. But, as satisfying as that sounds, there are so many instances in the Bible where God clearly says that he is all-forgiving and all-loving that I just can’t picture him doing that. But what does happen, when we die?  I think, the likeliest thing is that our bodies and all material that makes us is returned into the cycle of matter (we are just stardust after all) and that everything spiritual that makes us (i.e. our souls) will go to what we call heaven, which is outside of our material experience. I don’t think we can fathom what that is going to be like and here is the thing that is probably going to make lots of you shake your heads: I don’t think we’ll come back. I do not believe that at the end of time Jesus is going to come back from the dead and everyone righteous will get back their bodies and live in peace ever after. First of all, it sounds terribly boring to live in peace ever after, much like the Stepford wives and secondly, what would be the point? I think the “end of time” for us is when we die,  and Jesus comes and takes us to heaven and that is all the resurrection we are going to get. For my part: It’s all I need.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under body and soul, good vs. bad, Life after Death, Resurrection