the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Re-Discovering Rilke

Saturday, I received my latest installment of the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary. This volume was Ezekiel and is written by Margarett S. Odell. Dr. Odell is associate professor of religion at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. And is somewhat of an expert on Ezekiel. Walter Breuggemann says of her:

[Dr.] Odell is among the most important members of the new wave of Ezekiel scholars who take full account of the peculiarity of the book of Ezekiel, but have the patience and the erudition to engage its stunning and demanding theological cliams.

In her introduction to Ezekiel's first vision she quotes a bit of Rilke, and the poem she quoted seemed to bring the vision of Ezekiel alive for me. I remembered that I had the book somewhere. (Don't you just love it when someone quotes a source and you have that very source in your personal library?) So I tore through my book cases and found the book, leaving the bookcases and the room a mess. After dusting off several years of dust, cat dander and hair from the edges of the book, I sat back and treated myself to several hours of Rilke.

Dr. Odell quoted only the first stanza. Here is the poem in its entirety:

Dich wundert nicht des Sturmes Wucht

You are not surprised at the force of the storm—
you have seen it growing.
The trees flee. Their flight
sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:
he whom they flee is the one
you move toward. All your senses
sing him, as you stand at the window.

The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees' blood rose. Now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit;
now it becomes a riddle again,
and you again a stranger.

Summer was like your house: you knew
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.
The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves

Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.
Ranier Maria Rilke; Book of Hours; translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy; Riverhead Books, NY,1996; page 95.


Blogger HeyJules said...

Tentman! I finally got around to reading the stuff you wrote on the Practice of the Presence of God and I have questions!

Can you email me at with your email address? I'm VERY intrigued by by what you said.


12/12/2005 7:42 PM  
Blogger thought_weaver said...

First, thanks for your greeting to me (thought_weaver) and your invitation to visit your tentmaker blog.
Second, Rilke remains for me a poet that should not be set aside. I applaud your sharing the stanzas as well as calling attention to this collection. I have a good friend who has a similar poetic soul and whom I want to present a nice volume of Rilke's poetry. I am looking for finely bound volume that is a treasure to hold as well as read. I am wondering how one who does not know Rilke's work well might fine a book that someone who likely has been immersed in his poetry for some time. Maybe I need not worry about redundancy and go for a high quality edition.
Third, I too am a pastor (Episcopal) who began looking at Project Management as both a vehicle for congregational management (so much of the work of a congregation are projects) and as an alternative source of income. Which came first for you -- project management or being a pastor?

12/14/2005 5:42 PM  
Blogger bjk said...

This poem is exactly what I need and it gave such confirmation I guess is the word to some of what and how I have been thinking...printing it off and Thank You..

12/16/2005 9:42 AM  
Blogger the tentmaker said...

For thought_weaver: I was a project manager for 25 years before I answered God's call to vocation.

For both thought_weaver and bjk: I bought Rilke's book because I was fascinated with the saying of the Hours in monastic life. When I got it home, oh so many years ago, I was dissappointed with it because it was not what I was hoping it to be, i.e., a book on the daily hours.
Then recently, as I said in the post, I rediscovered Rilke. But really I am discovering him for the first time.

12/17/2005 7:21 PM  

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