March 4th to 10th: sections 11 to 15

“Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place.  Give me the strength and courage to live this season faithfully, so that, when Easter comes, I will be able to take with joy the new life which you have prepared for me” (p137)

Reading: sections 11 to 15

Thank you all for another wonderful week of sharing last week.  You will find much to reflect upon in this week’s reading as well.

1_ At the beginning of section 11, Henri talks about being present to the present.  He  quotes Rilke as describing this as living “without loss.”
a) Do you struggle with living in the present?  Are you often in the past or in the future?
b) What are the losses we experience when we are not living in the present?  Generally?  Spiritually?
c) What does the Bible say about living in the present?
d) How do we do it?

2_ Also at the beginning of section 11, Henri receives a clear “call” from the L’Arche Daybreak community.  Although this call is not “immediately attractive” Henri has a deep sense that this is God’s will and direction for his life, and so he prays for the “strength and courage to be truly obedient to Jesus, even if he calls me to where I would rather not go” (p95).   Just a few pages later we learn of his growing friendship with Nathan.  He discovers Nathan also plans to live at Daybreak in the years ahead.   Henri is “filled with gratitude and joy that God is not only calling [him] to a new country and a new community, but also offering [him] a new friendship to make it easier to follow that call (p99).
a) You are invited to share a story of a time that God was calling you somewhere you would rather not go, but as you chose to obey Him, he also provided you with a clear blessing or grace that made it easier to “follow the call.”

3_On page 113 Henri discusses with his friend Wim a struggle with a sense of meaninglessness.  “What am I doing here? Is this really our world, our people, our existence?  What is everybody so busy with?”
a) Have you had moments of similar searching, despair?  Was there an event in your life that brought this on?
b) As they continue to reflect, Henri describes this extremely painful experience as “the way to a deeper connection.”  How can we direct these painful questions in ourselves or in others to a deeper connection “with the one whose name is love, leading to a new discovery that we reborn out of love and are always called back to that love…to a new realization that God is the God of life who continues to offer us life wherever and whenever death threatens” (p114)?

4_ Throughout the book Henri shares of a deep desire to be faithful in prayer, while he constantly struggles to pray “well.”  He shares a small piece on prayer by Dom John Chapman (see page 116 and 117).
a) How does this piece also encourage you in your prayer life?

5_ As Henri is going through another emotionally hard time, he is invited to reflect on Deuteronomy 30.  He considers the opportunity we all have every single day, to choose life, and “one aspect of choosing life is choosing joy” (p138). He describes choosing joy as “the determination to let whatever takes place bring us one step closer to the God of life.”
a) What would this look like for you, in the situation you are in right now?

Looking forward to another great week!

Ray and Brynn

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42 Responses to March 4th to 10th: sections 11 to 15

  1. Harry Ford says:

    I had hard time getting into these chapters, maybe just a bad week. At one point I began to think of Thomas Merton and his journey and the similarities and differences. I feel Merton was far more self-assured than Nouwen. Looking forward to the next set of readings

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Harry,
      While I have not read nearly as much Merton as I have Nouwen, I tend to agree with you regarding Merton’s self-assurance. And knowing what I do know about this time in Henri’s life, it was a period of great uncertainty that wasn’t resolved simply by his decision to serve at L’Arche Daybreak. Even though it ultimately became the home he was searching for, it took a long, painful, and self-revealing journey to finally arrive at that point.
      Hope to see you at the Secular Franciscans fraternity meeting.
      Ray

  2. Liz Forest says:

    Depression left Hannah after her prayer, but long before Yahweh responded to it by giving her a son. In his book, “Psalms for Everyone,” Goldingay says, “there can be two stages to answers to prayers. Stage 1 God listens and makes a commitment to deal with the matter. Stage 2 God acts. In between you live in suspense and by faith. In Psalm 6, the psalmist hasn’t seen stage 2 yet, but stage 1 has happened. Goldingay poses the question of what happened between verses 7 & 8. Did someone minister to the psalmist and reassure him that God would hear and act? Did the psalmist come to the realisation that as when a child goes to his father, the appeal would be heard?

    Trusting in our caring. compassionate God is the way to move patiently from Stage 1 to Stage 2 of prayer. Holy Spirit, urge me on with trusting patience,

  3. Linda says:

    I will share with you a prayer that has been meaningful to me during this time.

    “My Lord and My God,
    take everything from me
    that distances me from you.

    My Lord and my God,
    give everything to me
    that brings me closer to you.

    My Lord and my God,
    detach me from myself
    to give my all to you.

    Amen.”

    ~ Nicholas of Flue,
    “Prayer of Self-Offering”

  4. Linda C says:

    So many thought provoking words from Henri. Choosing Life and Joy have the greatest impact on me in the PRESENT moment. I was fortunate to meet Sr. Helen Prejean several times throughout the years as she lectured on her book “Dead Man Walking”. I remember her autographing the book by signing with the words “Choose Life”. By choosing life we will also be choosing joy. The spiritual life calls us to be joyful even in the midst of so much pain and sorrow in the world. The choice of joy means simply to act according to the truth. The truth will set you free! Praise God!

  5. Jeffrey Dean says:

    In chapter 15, he attended Carnival and started Lent. It was cool learning the German word for Lunde Gras, which is the Monday before New Orleans Mardi Gras. And yes, we can relax here in Nawlin’s..

    Jeff Dean

  6. Ray Glennon says:

    Friends,
    Many of Henri’s reflections this week are related to where I am in my spiritual journey, my impending career transition, and the present day situation. Here are just a few brief excerpts.
    Community (p 101): God’s most radical intervention into history was listened to and received in community… God may choose us individually, but he always wants us to come together to allow his choice to come to maturity.
    Prepare (p 103): “A life is like a day; it goes by so fast. If I am careless with my days, how can I be careful with my life?”
    Loss of Faith (p 108): It is hard to explain why Holland changed from a very pious to a very secular country in one generation… their captivating prosperity is one of the more obvious reasons… (We) have become a distracted people–very good, kind, and good-natured, but caught in too much of everything. (Comment: Written 30 years ago, this certainly describes the state of religion in much of the U.S. today.)
    Prayer (p 117, p 119): We must pray not first of all because it feels good or helps, but because God loves us and wants our attention… What touches me most in this story is that depression left Hannah after her prayer, but long before Yahweh responded to it by giving her a son.
    Secular Politics (p 124): The central Christian vision, that life is a gift from God…no longer guides the decisions of all lawmakers. Thus laws, rules, and regulations tend to become increasingly functional and pragmatic. The question then becomes, “What seems best at present for the majority of the people.” (Comment: This applies to a greater degree now than it did when Henri first wrote it.)
    Grief (p 129): Many people worry about the lasting effects of this tragedy on the children who saw it happen before their eyes. In the United states death has become almost invisible. Suddenly it becomes so visible that its significance can hardly be grasped. How can we grieve and help others to grief? (Comment: Henri was writing about the loss of the space shuttle Challenger. These same words apply, perhaps even more poignantly, to the horrific school shootings that have become all too common.)
    Religious Polarization (p 131): I was shocked by this confronting, pious, nationalistic, and very moralistic guide (at Freiburg Münster)…His way of guiding reveals both its greatness and its medieval, clerical, and authoritarian qualities. But what about the young man who was sent away. Would he ever be able to come back to discover the gentle all-forgiving love of God?… He makes me ask some painful questions about ministry to those who can no longer relate to the powerful God of the Middle Ages but are searching for a tender, compassionate God, who can heal their wounded hearts. (Comment: The church seem to be even more polarized today then when Nouwen wrote. This is clearly evident if you engage in religious issues on Twitter or other social media.)

    Looking forward to another week of Spirit-filled comments.
    Ray

    • David Brown says:

      Ray,
      I agree with your assessment of society and your classification of issues and challenges we face. I believe Nouwen has much to say that would be very helpful in bringing us back to a civility that we seem to have lost.I am working on a book “the Nouwen way” which focuses on his assessment that we are all Beloved children of God and his general compassionate view of all humankind. If we do not change our view of others our ability to function is in Jeopardy.
      Blessings, David

  7. Brynn Lawrence says:

    A note of deep gratitude to each of you for the honest and encouraging sharing. I can say that as I read through the comments this afternoon I had tears in my eyes. May the Lord draw near to each and every heart represented here.

    Very briefly… I’ve been thinking about the question “what does the Bible say about living in the present?” I think the Bible teaches us to live in the present, but not necessarily for the present. And at the same time, I think the ability to live in the present, gives us the freedom to live for something greater than the present (the Kingdom of God)… because when we are living in the past or in the future (fear/anxiety/worry) we are pretty much all tied up! (speaking from experience).

    In gratitude,

    Brynn

  8. chuck says:

    i appreciate all of these thought provoking questions!! they are all so intertwined. i don’t know how we get anywhere spiritually without what Henri says about pray. ” the only way to pray is to pray,and the way to pray well is to pray much. ”
    question1) carpe punctum seize the moment is without losing time. life is too short to lose time. being mindful. be and see. if my mind is full of judgement, condemnation, envy, jeolousy, etc i am so distracted i cannot be in the moment. give us this day our daily bread. in this mode we can be a joyful servant. we can experience the realization that we are in possession of our own sovereign good. this is appealing to us all. we recognize this as beauty and goodness and desire more of it for ourselves. carpe punctum.
    question 3 and 5 go together. despair, pain, hurt, our crosses must be embraced and presented to our Lord for healing , guidance, and comfort. healed enough to let the fruit of joy come through. a wounded healer who is a joyful servant. yes, we can drink your cup. the cup of suffering and joy.we are now have a deeper connection with the one whose name is love . we realize that we are infinitely loved by the God of Love . in turn, we Love God with all the power of our free will. now we are fully healed.

  9. Marianne says:

    I really appreciate the chapter on prayer. Page 134 Henri says ” so I am praying while not knowing how to pray. I am resting well feeling restless, at peace while tempted, safe well still anxious, surrounded by a cloud of light while still in darkness, in love while still doubting.” I find this passage very reassuring about my time in prayer. I do feel a wonderful connection to Christ while praying. This is very difficult to explain to a non-believer. However, this writing also takes the heat off of me during those times when I don’t feel a connection. It’s not about the feelings it’s about the commitment.

    Another great passage is on page 135 where Nouwen is reflecting on the statue of Christ on a donkey. He states “every time I look at this Christ on the donkey, I am reminded again that I am seen by him with all my sins, guilt, and shame and loved with all his forgiveness, mercy, and compassion.” Again, such a relief to know that I don’t have to be perfect before approaching the throne of grace. It’s hard to believe that I don’t have to feel afraid.

    Hope you all have a good weekend. It’s wonderful that we are all sisters and brothers on our journey toward Easter.

  10. Ray Glennon says:

    In several of the reflections we read this week Henri demonstrates the power of beauty to lead people to God. As Bishop Robert Barron (drawing on Hans Urs von Balthasar) has said about presenting the faith to the world, “First the beautiful, then the good, then the true.” To help me better understand Henri’s words, I spent some time this morning finding photographs of the beautiful things that touched Henri’s heart. You can see them too by following the links.

    In several entries he writes aboutFreiburg Münster Tower and Square: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:M%C3%BCnster_(Freiburg_im_Breisgau)_jm10123.jpg
    Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freiburg_Minster

    Henri is touched by the compassionate eyes of Christ (p 134) in the sculpture Christ on Donkey (Augustiner Museum): https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zum.de%2FFaecher%2FG%2FBW%2FLandeskunde%2Frhein%2Fkultur%2Fmuseen%2Faugustin%2Fpalmesel.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zum.de%2FFaecher%2FG%2FBW%2FLandeskunde%2Frhein%2Fkultur%2Fmuseen%2Faugustin%2Fsakrale_kunst2.htm&docid=PcijMrYa8bDYUM&tbnid=2Tgst8xbiJewQM%3A&vet=10ahUKEwji28TDjuLZAhVypVkKHXGeCPYQMwgyKAAwAA..i&w=375&h=450&bih=590&biw=1280&q=Augustinermuseum%20Palmesel&ved=0ahUKEwji28TDjuLZAhVypVkKHXGeCPYQMwgyKAAwAA&iact=mrc&uact=8

    Christ on Donkey (Face) (Augustiner Museum): https://www.google.com/search?q=Augustinermuseum+Palmesel&rlz=1C1NHXL_enUS708US708&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjiyr6djeLZAhXJwVkKHY-iBeoQ_AUICygC&biw=1280&bih=590#imgrc=NCBost0yvKA8AM:

    Henri develops a new appreciation of Jesus’ Transfiguration (p 142) by seeing the Strasbourg Cathedral Rose Window: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rose_window_of_Strasbourg_Cathedral.jpg

  11. Ray Glennon says:

    Friends,
    I have been away from my computer more than usual during the past two days. My apologies for any delay in getting your comments posted. It’s a joy to journey through Lent with such a caring and supportive community.
    May the Lord give you peace.
    Ray

  12. Catherine says:

    God is calling me to be a part of ministry whose mission is to reflect the Love of Jesus to LGBTQ+ people. People who know me well are not surprised but I certainly am. As I read about Henri’s friendship with Nathan, I was encouraged that the LORD will have blessings for me. I am experiencing some camaraderie with the people I am working with and some of the tension that comes when working with others who are different from me. This calling is one of obedience. One where I am having to lead my heart. Years ago, I read about how the world tells us to follow our heart but the Word tells us to lead it and guard it for it is the well spring of life.
    Sometimes the lessons in life have to be repeated. At times I feel like I am a slow learner which is frustrating in the flesh but refreshing to my soul. Again, I am walking in obedience to my Abba Father, who is with me and I trust that he will continue to lead me and provide fellow pilgrims along the way.
    I am incredibly grateful to all that Henri has left us. Helping us re-learn lessons, encouraging us to press on, and always pointing us back to Jesus.

  13. David Brown says:

    2. I was appointed to a small “mill” church after being pastor of a larger, active one that was my dream church. I had to sell my house at a loss and my wife wept when we left our little home. This crushed my spirit and made me angry at the religious authorities that forced med to make this move. I almost quit. After moving we found a very loving congregation who encouraged me and responded with enthusiasm to my ministry. They supported me taking time to work on my Doctorate which I completed while serving there in spiritual formation and Henri Nouwen. The little church one awards for growth and mission. They gave me a plaque of appreciation when I moved. they are my favorite church in 40 yrs. of ministry.

  14. David Brown says:

    Living in the present is not easy. Nouwen describes a sense of being an observer in leading worship and in being with his family in Holland that seemed to have moved away from what Nouwen had experienced with them in earlier years, especially in the celebration of the Mass. My children(4) were taken from me in 88 when they were small when the Mother of my children left me, at a time when the Mother in the State where we lived automatically received custody.
    I had visitation which I cherished, but eventually the children moved away with their mother and her new husband. I remarried and was received warmly by my wives family. When we celebrate birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions I often feel that I am an observer in my inner sense of self.. This is because of the loss of my children( now in 30’s and 40’s) who have moved far away. Events in life can leave soul wounds. At Mass I feel fully present and loved in a large congregation whose names I do not know. It is a spiritual warmth that makes me feel welcome and loved.(The Holy Spirit?) Paul says over and over to forget the past and move forward towards the Kingdom of God. I try to do this but still often feel I’m searching for the past I lost and am not fully present in the present.

    • Patty Olstad says:

      David,

      I have a friend going through a difficult divorce with his kids taken away too. It is hard to lose a loved one, especially your own “flesh and blood”, whether it’s through death or divorce. It is a hole in your heart that will never be filled again. We can only ask God for healing. Time will heal all wounds.

      I am trying to live in the present and forget the past, especially the pain from past wounds. I ask God to give me strength and choose life over death, blessings over curses. It is not easy but we must try our best.

      • David Brown says:

        Thanks Patty Though its a struggle to move forward I try to live in the present but I still feel wounded from just being human and missing my children. Nouwen’s “wounded healer” concept and putting our “curses” under God’s blessing is a process Im trying to follow.

    • Beverly says:

      David,
      I resonate deeply with what you said re “forget the past and move forward,”…”but still often feel I’m searching for the past I lost and am not fully in the present.” I feel that too, expecially with my children.

      My husband left our family in 1999. Since that time, though I’m in touch with my two daughters, there’s tension and estrangement. I don’t know why and there has never been closure around what happened. My heart is to come closer, but I know deep down that I cannot fix, manage or control my future with them.

      I do agree with Henri and his example of choosing joy, “the determination to let whatever takes place bring us one step closer to the God of life” (138). But honestly, I have to make an intentional choice more than once I day because of my longing for a honest relationship with my children. May God have mercy on us in this authentic ache toward wanting to be part of our children’s life.

      • David Brown says:

        Thanks Beverley, I used to feel my children had been kidnapped though they had not.Life has never been the same. But I have found that helping others in practical and prayerful actions helps me live in the present though I will always be as Nouwen say a “Wounded Healer.” Prayers and Grace for your journey!

        • Julie says:

          I, too, have “lost touch” with 1 of my children, after a divorce. It’s been 3 years but seems much longer and the thought that I have missed out on 3 years of his life makes me so very sad. I don’t dwell on it. I focus on the present and remain hopeful and pray that maybe someday in the future I may see him again.

  15. Gretchen Saari says:

    I am lumping questions 3 and 5 together. The loss of my youngest son in Jan. 2009 and then the loss of my middle son this past July, horrify me at times. Sometimes I feel like a shadow, living someone else’s’ life. The words,” whatever takes place ….bring us closer to God ” allowed me to cry. Then, “there is nothing he does not fully know, nobody he does not fully love..he sees the depths of my heart” opened my soul so that I do feel closer to God. For the moments that I feel closer to God, I am in the present here in this world and also in a Greater Present that is without time and space.

    I don’t have to struggle with moving downward. I am down. What keeps me the lowest is in the prayer” give up our competition with God” Now that I am writing this, it comes to me that if I write laments, that is a way to not compete with God. I can just lament.

    I feel that I will re-read the sections for this week many times.

    • David Brown says:

      Gretchen,
      I send my love and sympathy for the loss of your Sons. Nouwens main quality to me is his compassion. He says we are all chosen for a purpose, but that we are all also broken in life ,like the host in Communion is broken. He says in Life of the Beloved,I am a broken Man, Your are a broken Man”(Today He would probably say person) I have not lost children by death but I have a daughter who has not spoken to me in 15 years and two sons that almost never communicate though I try to keep up the relationship,but only see them and Grandchildren once a yr if then. I feel often like a broken person. Jesus says,that while we are in this life we will know tribulation but to be of good cheer because he has over come the world. The crucified God somehow validates the meaning of our suffering and invites us to lean on Him.. A priest friend who just became a Bishop closes his letters “Jesus is our only Hope” I think Nouwen would agree and often affirmed that in the middle of darkness. Peace, David

    • Marge says:

      I’m so sorry for your losses, Gretchen…..my heart laments for you, with you…may God hold you steadfast in the palm of His hand, might you know without a doubt that God is with you…..Ps. 139: 7,9 & 10…..”Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your Presence?…If I Take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me and Your right hand shall hold me.”

  16. Beverly says:

    There’s a quality about Henri’s reflections that always brings me back to Center. He has a way of nailing exactly what I’m struggling with that gives hope in the moment. When I read his conversation with Win it resonnated deeply. Derealization (p 113) is a wispy feeling of detachment, as though one’s environment is lacking spontaniety, emotional colouring and depth. This experience makes the world feel unreal. Hence the existentional lonliness Henri mentions (ibid), even in the midst of good friends and meaningful work.

    I feel this way right now as I’m in the middle of some interior life transition that I really don’t understand. It’s been brought on by beginning a Spiritual Direction course that could segue me from my current profession to another call; and even the consideration of moving to another state. It’s unsettling at my age and stage of life. It seems ‘unreal.’

    The hope Henri gives to me this morning in the psychic space is his call to prayer (117) and his example of choosing joy (138). Prayer even when it feels unreal unites me with Christ and keeps me in a place of knowing I am God’s “handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

    United with Christ as my living reminder helps me choose joy: “This choice means simply to act according to the truth. The depressed mood (or the existential loneliness) is still there. I cannot force it out of my heart. But at least I can unmask it as being untrue and prevent it from becoming the ground of my actions.” This gives me great hope.

    • Linda C. says:

      I received the call to become a Spiritual Director in 2013. My life has never been the same as I deepen my relationship with God and others. I encourage you to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. Be surprised by JOY!

  17. Marge says:

    I must add this, one of the most challenging insights received as I read…p.112…”What is important is to find the anger-free parts in people’s hearts where God’s love can be heard and received.” Might be an inroad where dealing with the anger becomes a possibility? If there are those like me, I didn’t even know I was angry until I dreamt of an angry baby crawling up my house rain spout…pounding on my window, until I woke up, opened the window, and let that angry, angry baby in….eventually this new realization led me to a new understanding of God’s love, acceptance, patient waiting…so glad God did not give up on me, thus I cannot either! The spiritual, Spirit-led challenge presented in this gem of a sentence, is on……Watching, praying……thank you.

  18. Marge says:

    Joy is not something I cannot muster up on my own. But I do recognize how important that element is for me as I pray, relate, do…..often it shows up when I least expect it or when it is needed most. When my boys were small, my prayer for joy was forever to the forefront. I thought, how sad if my children don’t know how much joy they are/bring to me. I remember during a very difficult time in my life, when I began to trust that Jesus was enough…in joy or in sorrow…trusting that the “Joy of the Lord is my strength.”

    As I read Henri’s “A joyful heart is a heart in which something new is being born.”….along by with this MSG version of Psalm 90:14, 16-17…”Surprise us with love at daybreak; then we’ll skip and dance all day long…Let Your servants see what You are best at-the ways You rule and bless Your children. And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do.”……JOY comes in the morning…..remembering Nouwen’s book, “Turn My Mourning Into Dancing”, so helpful.

    • Gretchen Saari says:

      Henri’s thoughts on anger and then your dream impact me… I hope to remember them often. They remind me to be compassionate with others and myself!

  19. Maureen M. says:

    At some time in our lives we all live with loss. Living with loss has forced me to live in the present. I have what I call a before and an after. Unlike before, in my after everything no longer needs to be just right before I am receptive and free to act on something God seems to be nudging me to do. I think that when Rilke says that living in the present is like living “without loss” he means that, by living for today, we free ourselves from regrets of the past and anxiety about the future. Matthew tells us not to worry about tomorrow but to have great faith and trust in our Heavenly Father who knows what we need most times more than we ourselves do. It’s a great challenge.

    I starred what Henri wrote about the meaning of existence: what am I doing, and for what reason? It truly resonated with me as I reflect on my exposure to the grieving families of young adults who have greatly battled emotionally – too many of whom have sadly lost their battle. Their sensitivity makes them unable to live life as robots as they feel most deeply and with searching hearts, making them feel like strangers in their own milieu. This can indeed be the source of much pain. Henri truly understands this and further says that this struggle and understanding can lead the way to a true sense of belonging, the source of which comes from the hope that lives within us as God’s beloved. I pray for this understanding and peace for those who continue to battle with the diseases of depression and mental illness.

    I, too, struggle with prayer. Most of the time I readily turn to prayer in times of need and forget to pray when things seem to be moving along smoothly. I try and remember that prayer is the basis of my relationship with God. As with a good friendship, praying much is like talking much and not only in times of need. I think back to the earlier question about the name of Jesus. I thought of praying ‘in Jesus’ name’. The deal is that God who truly loves us answers our prayers according to His Holy will. There are many blessings that I don’t ask for but that I truly need. I never think to ask for them myself and usually take them for granted. Yet, the God who loves and cares for me has provided those blessings. Giving thanks and Glory to God is part of our relationship.

    Other blessings could be mine but in order to receive them I must, as Jesus says, ask boldly and with childlike confidence, simplicity, innocence and candor, just like Danny so touchingly did. Sometimes, my prayers are not answered as I had hoped but God in his infinite knowledge knows that what I pray for is not always in alignment with what he knows to be best for me, just like the tough love of a true friend with a broader perspective. Still other times, God doesn’t say no but rather wait, as with a friend who does nothing but hold space for us during our toughest times. Henri acknowledged that he could not force his depressed mood out of his heart but God’s love graced him with a choice, a choice of truth, joy and life.

  20. Marge says:

    “Listening Together” certainly calls me to read over several times. I have a lifelong friend who has been called to pastor in various places in U.S. and Ecuador, along with her husband pastor…..she is always on the move compared to my staying home. Yet, as we have continued to grow/deepened in faith and friendship, though miles apart, we often laugh to find similarities of experience, thought, new insights in a timely fashion in the places where we each are….truly, a mutual blessing, have gone on short retreats together when possible, and because of her friendship, I find I am a better, more trusting friend with/to others….not a clingy, possessive relationship, but one that does affirm and encourage me as I seek to “ let God’s grace fully work in my life…”….God wants us to form new friendships and a new community-holy places where His grace can grow and bear fruit.” YES!

  21. Liz Forest says:

    Living in the present challenges both heart and mind. I can enter a room, look around at the setting and the people with mindfulness only when I have an open heart to accept what’s before me as is. If I fix my gaze on a person and begin to label that one as “too talkative, overbearing, negative or otherwise, I may lose the chance to encounter this person in the present. My mind is filled with preconceived notions that will block any new information. Henri says that the artist Cezanne saw reality as it is. (P.96) Rilke describes the time when his daughter was born as a period when “I found reality indescribable, down to the smallest details, as it surely always is.” This being present to the present is not my usual way of seeing or being. I need to have the mind of Christ or as has been said, “the third eye to see things as God sees.” Why is this so difficult? Perhaps because I have myopic view, wanting to “Fix” things or people according to my norms.
    There’s an excellent article on mindfulness which I happened to receive in email today. Vinita Hampton Wright author says, “Only the Holy Spirit can help me see further than my own biases and immediate thoughts. When I am trying to be mindful, it will benefit me greatly if I add a simple prayer to my mindfulness practice: “Holy Spirit, help me see and perceive what is the truth. Lift me out of the limits of sin and weakness and lack of wisdom.”
    More at https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/9727/mindful

  22. Elaine M says:

    We begin each St. Vincent dePaul Society meeting with a prayer that includes the quotation, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them.” My friends in the Society have buoyed me as I try to navigate the waters of a culture that is often without empathy and often imbued with acrimony and violence. I have discerned their encouragement of my expanded role in the Society as a call to leave my professional career to devote more time in direct service to and advocacy for the poor. A recent visit to a school where the median family income is $26,000, a school where I will be doing some regular service in the future, really clinched my decision to leave a job in a school in which families spend almost that much for tuition, select sports, and vacations for a single child. While many of these school families are good, loving people who give generously of their time and resources, I am in a place in my own life where I have the freedom and ability to follow my heart elsewhere.

  23. Liz Forest says:

    Henri’s thoughts about the Visitation(P.101)resonated with me. God does not want to isolate us. WE cannot live this new life alone.” I think of the many persons who have affirmed my gifts, encouraging me onward. As Henri says, Two or more people encourage each other to “let it happen.” New hope is given to them and to the world.
    Henri’s Christmas visit to his family home in Holland (P.108) reminded me of visits to relatives who might be “distant” both geographically and familial. Not sure how the visit will go he prays and God answers: “Don’t be too nervous about finding the right language or the right tone, but trust that my Spirit will speak through you, even when you are least prepared.” That is “Blessed Assurance.”

  24. Ray Glennon says:

    On Sunday afternoon Patrice Donnelly and Harry Ford added their comments to last week’s post on sections 6 to 10. You can find them here http://wp.henrinouwen.org/?p=1544 or by using the link above the title for this post. To return to this post, click Home in the black bar immediately below the photograph at the top of each page.

  25. Jo says:

    Alanon helps me to live in the present when attempting to follow a slogan One Day
    At a Time. It’s sometimes a struggle as with everyone.

    I have been called to be a part of a community and I think answering that Call
    with fidelity is the Grace of God in action as it’s something that requires God’s
    intervention to be faithful to it.

    This book expresses Henri’s weaknesses in ways that enlighten us. I’m so
    impressed with him sharing his struggles and putting the world at ease with
    their struggles. Humanity can’t do it alone as God needs to be part of the
    equation. To-day the emphasis is often on our own strength or collective
    energies of strength but nary a word about counting on God’s strength.

    When Henri shares his struggles with prayer, again he’s encouraging us to
    continue no matter what and be faithful to prayer. I love his humility.

    Choosing joy means living with suffering or as Mother Theresa said “Joy and
    Suffering goes together”. When I see great despair taking terrible roads in the
    lives of the wealthy and famous surely it must speak to us about the absolute
    lack of suffering, comparatively speaking, among the poorer members of
    society. I think of people with great suffering physically or mentally but who
    often carry us into the realm of love and joy by welcoming us into their lives.

    • Linda C. says:

      I have been a member of ALANON for 25 years. I agree that Taking One Day at a Time will bring us serenity and peace. We are called to live in the Present!

  26. Wayne Norman Cochran says:

    THE CALL
    by Wayne Norman Cochran

    We are called to be where we live most deeply,
    where we can add to life balm and incense and spice.
    We are asked to visit the castle of fears,
    to go where we would not, to do what we would not dare.
    We may not always hear the singer beckoning,
    yet the call dances in us until it dances with us.

    • Marge says:

      Thanks, Wayne…I felt called to be more present with my father as he was dying with bone cancer. Not easy….yes, visiting the castle of fears, yet….out of that comes a new call…to live more completely in the present, with no regrets…..love your last line….”yet the call dances in us until it dances with us.” Blessings.

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