Discipline, Action, Suffering, Death

Stations on the Road to Freedom
Dietrich Bonhoeffer; July 21, 1944
Written the day after his failed attempt to assassinate Hitler

Discipline

If you set out to seek freedom, then learn above all
discipline of soul and senses, so that your passions
and your limbs might not lead you confusedly hither and yon.
Chaste be your spirit and body, subject to your own will,
and obedient to seek out the goal that they have been given.
No one discovers the secret of freedom but through self-control

Action

Dare to do what is just, not what fancy may call for;
Lose not time with what may be, but boldly grasp what is real.
The world of thought is escape; freedom only comes through action.
Step out beyond anxious waiting and into the storm of events,
carried only by God’s command and by your own faith;
then will freedom exultantly cry out to welcome your spirit.

Suffering

Wondrous transformation! Your strong and active hands
are tied now. Powerless, alone, you see the end of your action.
Still, you take a deep breath and lay your struggle for justice,
quietly and in faith, into a mightier hand.
Just for one blissful moment, you tasted the sweetness of freedom,
then you handed it over to God, that he might make it whole.

Death

Come now, highest moment on the road to freedom eternal,
Death, put down the ponderous chains and demolish the walls
of our mortal bodies, the walls of our blinded souls,
that we might finally see what mortals have kept us from seeing.
Freedom, how long we have sought you through discipline, action, and suffering.
Dying, now we behold your face in the countenance of God.

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