Blog Entries


From the series Poetry as Doxology

We live in a world that constantly entices us to believe that we are not enough, or do not have enough. Therefore, we need to buy more, consume more, and show off more—whether it is to do with food, money, status, power, or influence.  We are persuaded to have desires that are not necessarily life-giving, as none of the above things can satisfy our deepest needs.

Once St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430 AD) articulated this “hole” in the human soul: “Our heart is restless until it finds its place of rest in You.”1 The soul is like a wandering traveler lost in the desert of the universe, desperately trying to find ways to quench its thirst and move forward to a place of security and comfort. Even those who seem to have found their way can get “stuck” or go around a circle in the wilderness.

The sad reality is that many individuals are not ready to acknowledge this predicament. Instead, they allow themselves to drift into the busyness of life and work, including ministry. They are swept along by the current of the surrounding culture, including church culture. It is not until a crisis visits them at some point that drives them to a state of desperation and a need to embark on a journey beyond themselves. Paradoxically, this is often the way God graciously breaks into lives and starts the work of transformation that God alone can do.

This situation can apply to Christian leaders who have outward fame and productivity, but their inner selves are in a state of peril. In facing the great demands of ministry, their state of wellbeing and leadership often face great danger. Their deepest longing for God in the midst of ministry is neglected or becomes “fainted” (in Meister Eckhart’s words). It could often be covered by shame or guilt under a façade of religious busyness.

How can our spiritual veils be lifted so that not only our desire for God is acknowledged, named, and attended to, but it may also be in congruity with God’s desire? My previous post, “Alive,” suggests that the beautiful yet broken creation reveals what God is like, opening a pathway of healing, restoration and transformation by living with the creation—the great sacrament. The rich spiritual tradition of Christian faith has left us this very hidden treasure for the contemporary world to unearth.

The poem “Yearning” speaks of the deep groaning out of a longing to be in communion with the creation in wonder and awe. It is an invitation to embrace the beauty and sacredness of the creation with the very life God has given us—eyes, ears, lungs, and hands. Those who have tasted the goodness of God would yearn for more of the living water that is never quenched (John 4:14). The holy hunger created by God stirs one’s soul to pursue the ocean of life to the full, when only a sprinkle of water was received. The earthly body can no longer contain the overflowing presence of God, so much so that it spills out. The poetic frustration of “not-enough” with groaning ecstasy is precisely the eschatological hope of a childbirth as the first fruits of the Spirit (Romans 8:22–25). With the holy desire to engage with the whole creation as a sacred source, ceaseless wonder and inspiration replace complacency, doubt, and disbelief. Life becomes expansive—the boundaries between heaven and earth fade as we live in communion with the Creator and the creation.


this life not expansive enough
to embrace everything
offered by the divine love

my lungs not vast enough
to absorb oxygen of every forest
my eyes not magnified enough
to grasp intricacy of every flower
my ears not sharp enough
to capture sound waves of galaxies
my hands not stretched enough
to reach far horizons
where oceans meet heaven

the world, a beautiful place
a kaleidoscope of
colours, sounds and smells
I wish to fly
with wings of the Spirit
to dance in the air
soar above the sun
moving and feeling
with every atom and molecule

still this moment
treasured here and now
the present of the Presence
the frustration of not-enough






Watch a multimedia production of “Yearning” on YouTube.

©Xiaoli Yang. All rights reserved.


  1. St Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of St. Augustine—Modern English Version (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House: 2005), 16.
  2. Xiaoli Yang, “Yearning,” Coolamon 8 (2023): 22-23.
Share to Social Media
Image credit: “Yearning,” YouTube.
Xiaoli Yang

Xiaoli Yang

  Rev. Dr. Xiaoli Yang is an Australian Chinese theologian, pastor, poet, and spiritual director. She is currently serving Australian Association of Mission Studies and on the editorial board of Australian Journal of Mission Studies.    View Full Bio

Are you enjoying a cup of good coffee or fragrant tea while reading the latest ChinaSource post? Consider donating the cost of that “cuppa” to support our content so we can continue to serve you with the latest on Christianity in China.