Monday Reflections: Countercultural?

I’m reading one of my favorite of Rilke’s journals again. In it, he begs us to “be for a single day unfashionable and you will see how much eternity you have within you.”

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Being unfashionable, out of step with the culture, is isolating. Our world is full of pseudo fulfillments – things to buy and have that with make the exterior of our lives look acceptable; things that promise to organize the interior as well if only we can follow the rules. We buy into them and live in a world of friendly neighbors, all nodding their heads to tell us we’ve done the ‘right’ thing, made the appropriate choice, built a successful life.

But eternity, the wilderness of life outside the crowd, is something lonely and beautiful. There is something intimately satisfying about learning to be entirely ourselves..to step outside of the self formed from advertising and entertainment and become a being of eternity, earth-bound and staring up at the sky.

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When we moved out here, some people saw our decision as a judgment. A way of pushing against them and their choices, instead of what it was, a pursuit – entirely our own, of beauty and intimacy and Christ. An attempt to hear Him better by listening more in the quiet, not an attempt to tell others how best to hear Him. We’re building our little monastic homestead on dreams and faith and magic – impractically, because we are almost always impractical – as are most people who make something unconventional out of their lives.

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The world is so quick sometimes to accuse the countercultural, the radicals, the wild dreamers who follow their hearts of trying too hard to be something they’re not: poseurs. But most of the time, we’re just trying to be that eternal self, the one hidden under all the things we used to do to hide her. And we’ve been formed by a world that values conventionality over truth, so she’s sometimes hard to find. We dress up in aspects of her, we play with ideas she might love, in order to draw her out, and so we look flighty sometimes, and altogether too earnest for society’s approval.. but we’re moving closer to something real.

I’m all rambly, Rilke has that effect on me. Tell me what you think? Are you living somewhere outside the mainstream? What do Rilke’s words mean to you?

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