Four of the ten 20th Century Martyrs above the west door of Westminster Abby, installed in 2000. From left to right: Grand Archduchess Elizabeth of Russia, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bishop Romero, Pastor Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed at Flossenberg Concentration Camp on April 9, 1945, and at some other point I am sure I will share more reflections since his writings have definitely shaped me in many ways, but today I am just going to share one of his lesser known poems. Many people will share his famous “Who Am I” poem, but this is one of my favorites (and if you look back at Golgatha you will probably see some resonance):
Powers of Good (December 28, 1944)
With every power for good to stay and guide me,
comforted and inspired beyond all fear,
I’ll live these days with you in thought beside me,
and pass, with you, into the coming year.
The old year still torments our hearts, unhastening;
the long days of our sorrow still endure;
Father, grant to the souls thou hast been chastening
that thou has promised, the healing and the cure
Should it be ours to drain the cup of grieving
even to the dregs of pain, at thy command,
we will not falter, thankfully receiving
all that is given by thy loving hand.
But should it be thy will once more to release us
to life’s enjoyment and its good sunshine,
that which we’ve learned from sorrow shall increase us,
and all our life be dedicate as thine.
Today, let candles shed their radiant greeting;
lo, on our darkness are they not thy light
leading us, haply, to our longed-for meeting?
Thou canst illumine even our darkest night.
When now the silence deepens for our harkening,
grant we may hear thy children’s voices raise
for all the unseen world around us darkening
their universal paean, in thy praise.
While all the powers of good aid and attend us,
boldly we’ll face the future, come what may.
At even and at morn God will befriend us,
and oh, most surely on each newborn day!
(Bonhoeffer 1953, 400f)