All things have a home: the bird has a nest, the fox has a hole, the bee has a hive. A soul without prayer is a soul without a home…Such a home is prayer. Continuity, permanence, intimacy, authenticity, earnestness are its attributes. For the soul, home is where prayer is…How marvelous is my home. I enter as a supplicant and emerge as a witness; I enter as a stranger and emerge as next of kin. I may enter spiritually shapeless, inwardly disfigured, and emerge wholly changed.
— from the essay “On Prayer” by Abraham Joshua Heschel
Joseph Coen, a listener in Valley Stream, New York, wrote to us with a similar version of this Heschel quote. Coen first encountered Heschel’s words on a prayer card he received at a retreat, and they continue to speak to him years later. For me, Heschel’s reflections on prayer resonated with our New Year’s weekend broadcast, "Approaching Prayer" featuring musician Anoushka Shankar, writer/translator Stephen Mitchell, and religion scholar Roberta Bondi.
Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer
I saw it as a sign from God that this was the right thing to do.
I started praying when I came to Treasury. At Goldman, I didn’t pray. Not once. ‘Cause I just didn’t care. At Treasury, there were so many times.
Gaga for Rilke
Andy Dayton, associate web producer
The writing of Rainer Maria Rilke has appeared pretty frequently in the history of Speaking of Faith. We featured his poems in “The Soul in Depression,” and Krista even included his work in the opening pages of her book.
Recently, though, I encountered Rilke in an unexpected place — on the bicep of pop singer Lady Gaga. In a conversation with Interview magazine, she cited Rilke as “my favorite writer” and, while in Osaka, was tattooed with a passage from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet — a series of responses to a young student who had sent Rilke some of his work, asking for advice about becoming a writer. The two never met, but during this five-year period Rilke wrote him 10 letters.
During the interview, Lady Gaga translated the tattoo’s German script into English:
"Confess to yourself in the deepest hour of the night whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. Dig deep into your heart, where the answer spreads its roots in your being, and ask yourself solemnly, Must I write?"
(photo: Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)
So when you give someone a name, you’re giving them part of your soul. And when you accept a name, you’re both accepting the soul given and you’re giving part of your own. So you’re connected in ways that are profound and meaningful and communicated by the very word which the English translation ‘namesake’ doesn’t really cover.
—David Treuer, an author and translator who spoke to Krista for our show, "Language and Meaning, an Ojibwe Story"
Trent Gilliss, online editor
A Quote of Unknown Origin?
Trent Gilliss, online editor
"Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us."
I’ve seen this quote attributed to Martin Luther and cited in all types of places: on installation walls, in sermons, on blogs, you name it. But what’s the source? Please help me out.
Only in a state of great powerlessness, weakness, fear, and anxiety does the idea of justified torture sound even remotely reasonable to an otherwise good and moral man.
— Geoffrey Cornish, who quotes his father’s friend who helped soldiers escape from Japanese work camps in WWII, in response to our blog post about Darius Rejali’s personal interest in the torture debate.
The rest of his comment is well worth reading.
I want to find out who I am and to live it in the service of the world.
There’s only one script now!
—Krista Tippett, informing a producer that floating versions of language for an upcoming show, with listeners’ voices on the economic crisis, has been merged.
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor