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May 12, 2009

1

Bonhoeffer – Who Am I?

by quaesitor

Read this the other day. Was stopped in my tracks and struck dumb by its simple power. Written by Bonhoeffer while in a Nazi prison for his part in a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler. He was executed in Flossenburg Concentration Camp only a matter of days before the end of the 2nd World War.

WHO AM I?

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, 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 colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
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!

Taken from Letters & Papers from Prison

It evoked in my mind a poem/song written of course in entirely different circumstances but which grapples with the same human reality: I AM ONE by my sister-in-law, Miriam Jones. And while we’re on the case, check out her website for new songs in the process of creation as we speak…

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. May 19 2009

    Love your sisters voice – thank-you for introducing her to us!

    Reply

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