I live my life in widening rings.
The last ring, in spite of my trying, I doubt –
as it wanders across and over things —
if I shall ever complete.
-The Book of Hours by Rainier Maria Rilke
Reading these lines of Rilke this rainy spring Saturday afternoon brings to mind the annual growth rings of a tree. Some thin, indicative of lean years when my life was hard. Drought. Lack of nutrients. Perhaps a wildfire out of control scorching back the tender branches of growth. Others thick, revealing seasons of plenty. Rain in season and in proportion to need. Sunshine and warmth to fuel photosynthesis. Years of blessing and growth.
As with all trees my life shall also have a final, incomplete ring. Whether it is this year’s, or the next, or decades away, I’m blessed to not know. But I do know that the purpose of my life is to embrace more and more of God and to invite more and more people into these ever widening rings. Rilke continues,
For in this ring I encircle God.
The aged tower—millennia long;
and I need to know: am I falcon, or storm,
or song, an immense song?
This brings to mind one of my favorite lines from the Psalms,
Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
God’s statutes are my song, my immense song, as a sojourn in this world seeking those outside the circle of God’s love, seeking those who do not have his statutes, seeking those who do not know his love.