July 22nd

Who is God? 
Who am I? 
Who are we together? 

In his book Three Simple Questions, Reuben Job points out that we are all often confused by our identity. Are we the way others see us? Or are we the way that we feel inside? Are we our best selves? Or our worst? 

Job quotes this famous prayer from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a prayer from prison not long before he was executed by Hitler’s regime. Not only is it a prayer that reminds us that we find our identity in God; it is also a reminder that people in prison are human beings to be honored and not just written on as ‘those people in prison.’ 
 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 often 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 colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds, 
thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness, 
trembling with anger at despotism and petty humiliations,
tossing in expectations 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! **
                                                ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

May you know relief from the heat and the refreshing breezes of the Lord’s blessing!  

Love always, 
Pastor Mary

**from Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, quoted by Reuben P. Job in Three Simple Questions (Abingdon, 2011), p. 37-38.