Who Am I? by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I am within the last 100 pages of the Bonhoeffer biography by Eric Metaxas. As I near the end of this book, Bonhoeffer feels like an old friend; one I have been privileged to know through his letters, sermons and books. Today I read this poem that Bonhoeffer wrote. For the Christian this truth is a lighthouse amidst the fog of life which can confuse us and lead us astray. Indeed, Christian, you are God’s.

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 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 colours, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
trembling 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.

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About justicetheline

Above all I am a Christian Hedonist pursuing my ultimate satisfaction and joy in God. This blog contains postings about what God is teaching me through his Word, is an outlet for some of my photography, and will occasionally include stories about my experiences as a deputy sheriff on patrol. View all posts by justicetheline

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