SpIRE Spirituality Institute

[5 Sept 2015] The Ripening: Imagining a truer God (and self) with the poet Rainer Maria Rilke

Mark Stephen Burrows, PhD

Mark Stephen Burrows, PhD


Mark Stephen Burrows, Ph.D.
Professor at the University of Applied Sciences, Bochum (Germany), Poetry Editor of Spiritus (https://muse.jhu.edu/journal/176) , and a past-President of the international Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality (https://sscs.press.jhu.edu/)

“Even when we don’t desire: God ripens.” With these strange, luminous words, the poet Rilke (1875 – 1926) steers us into the deep places of mystery, divine and human. We know that we live in the midst of constant change, but recognize that we are often reluctant to embrace the poet’s admonition to “Will transformation.” We know that the divine reality beyond us and within us is more about what we do not know than what we do, and sometimes have the courage to believe that God moves ahead of us in the darkness in order to allow us to learn to see again. But our faith is often unsettled by the changes, and steers away from what one modern prophet called “untamed wisdom”—the sort Jesus seemed mostly interested in. Rilke will offer us guidance, perhaps even the courage of faith, in inviting us to move beyond the certainties of our lives, the familiarities of tradition, in order to embrace the divine mystery which is ever ripening in us—and in God.