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Morning over the bay

According to Love

Letters Home

Kathleen Hasenberg

Available languages: español

6 Comments
6 Comments
6 Comments
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  • Kitty Lou

    Your articles like this one are what keep me looking forward to each issue of Plough. Thank you so very much.

  • Don Murphy

    What a wonderful inspiration she is and was. She saw the truth and guides us into the truth.

  • Joel Watson

    Sounds like St. Francis talking to his father.

  • Michael Harris

    Thanks for sharing this! It is powerful! And on top of it all- I remember Kathleen Hasenberg quite well. One of the first things that ever stood out very clearly to me was her smiling eyes and face! It simply radiated a striking "something" that was wonderful. She shared many stories with me and even wrote some down for me. So to read this and see her whole heart to live for Jesus and His kingdom is thrilling. I see this as a powerful testimony to the life in the early Bruderhof communities that stirs me to the core. As the one song says "...the heart of Jesus only in us burning". This in stark reality is what I think of in reading this.

  • Victoria

    This article is wonderful and should be encourge to continue. I say this because many people are going to hell, because they do not know the truth.

  • Nicole Solomon

    Thank you for these powerful words. What is so amazing to me about what Kathleen shares here is the deep dedication she shows to giving up everything--I mean everything that is not a part of God's Kingdom, whether it be a lifestyle, a job, material things, things one would like to do in life, career, education, I mean everything. She really challenges me as I read this to question myself and deeply seek to know whether I am really ready to give up everything too for the Kingdom. That is my longing, and I fail everyday to really show love to my neighbor, but that is my goal and to also know that Jesus lead us on a humble obedient path and gave up His own life for us, so I want to be ready to also face anything that I am led to for Him and for the Kingdom. Thank you so much for sharing these letters with us--I read it a few times already and will certainly read it again every time I need a reminder to stay focused on the prize!

Kathleen left her home in Edinburgh, Scotland, to visit the Alm Bruderhof in 1934, when she was twenty seven years old. Bold, impulsive, and often pointed, the letters quoted below were addressed to her mother, but will speak to anyone for whom faith is a living, burning question. Kathleen died in 2000 at the age of 93, still faithful to what was, for her, the call to follow Christ in radical discipleship.

October 1934
Leaving the church was no easy step, but the church simply was no solution to the problem of loving one's neighbor as one's self. That was, for me, impossible under a capitalist order, for I found that while I was giving of my surplus and not sharing all – whether of wealth, poverty, joy or pain - I was not really loving my neighbor, but demoralizing him. Of course I saw sincere individuals in the church, and would not cast a slur on anyone. But the church must be more than a collection of sincere individuals. It is the miracle of Pentecost - life and fire, and unity.

February 1935
The attitude that if one serves God only pleasant results will follow reveals a sentimental interpretation of the word "love" (whereas the love of God is strong and powerful). It also shows that one has not faced the facts of history. What about Christ? God certainly guided him – and the guidance led to the cross. What of the apostles – one has only to read Acts to see that physical hardship, deprivation, imprisonment, all resulted from being true to the guidance of God. What of the early Christians and the unheard of things they suffered "to make a Roman holiday"? The same has been true through the ages.

There are two things that kill each other – property and love. This is the narrow gate one has to pass to reach full, rich life – and indeed few there be that find it. Not only personal property, but one's personal desires, appetites, and inclinations have to be given up to live love. It is not a single surrender, but a daily, hourly one. Perhaps that sounds extreme – but it is a cool statement of fact. That is why it is so hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

March 1935
We must be positive. We know that if we seek God's will – the kingdom of heaven – first and only, we shall have what is necessary. But we would not dare to pray that his kingdom come while nursing our resources for ourselves and not actively giving ourselves to the doing of his will.

October 1936
Why, Mother, your own beloved Bacon said that prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity that of the New. And we are truly in a goodly company with those throughout the ages who bore a faithful witness to the God of love. And need I say we would infinitely rather be with them, whatever it costs, than in ease and comfort in a world torn by fear and hatred and injustice?

Still, Christ's will was, and is, to unite. Think how he wept over Jerusalem! Or think of his prayer, "That they all might be one" – so much so that they are one living organism – his body, animated by his spirit. Christ said, "I am the Way." Not the community and the Bruderhof, not social work. "I am the Way." Modern life is so complicated and torn, so distracting and disintegrating. Whereas the Way is simple, light, and straight. It unifies the whole of life.

November 1936
I have been thinking, Mother, of the time when Christ shall truly reign on earth, and when the kingdom of heaven will be realized. This is the great goal of our life, which stands as a little signpost amid the deadly confusion and relativism in the world today. It is only a signpost, and an imperfect one, that points toward the coming kingdom of God. But at least we can follow it, here and now, and hope that it says to those who despair of peace and justice and love that there is a way out of all the division and distraction and hatred and fear among men. God is love, and it is his will that men should live in love. And what is more, if they are ready to risk all – economic security, worldly fame, yes, life and limb, for him – the Power to do so will be given them, even in the world as it is...

When men will not live in love, they must live under the law. They must obey a State whose task it is to defend the innocent and punish the guilty. They must be willing to judge and condemn other men – "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" – for the State can only be maintained by force. But it cannot change the heart, and thus we aim to live according to the law of love, as ambassadors of another realm, in a positive, creative way.

Kathleen Hasenberg in 1934
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