Mar 6th to Mar 12th: First Week of Lent

Reading:
Letter I—Jesus: The Heart of Our Existence (p.3 to p. 8)
Letter II—Jesus: The God Who Sets Us Free (p. 11 to p. 20)

If you were to ask me point blank, “What does it mean to you
to live spiritually?” I would have to reply,
“Living with Jesus at the center.” (p.7)

Welcome to each of you. What a tremendous start to what promises to be a blessed and meaningful Lenten journey. Thanks to those of you who introduced yourselves—and for those of you that chose not to, you are most welcome here as well. We have a wonderful community from Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the United Kingdom (so far) joining us in this virtual space for our Lenten book discussion of Letters to Marc About Jesus: Living a Spiritual Life in a Material World by Henri Nouwen.

For Henri, writing was an essential element of coming to know himself, and understanding his relationship to God and the world. Henri’s great gift as a priest, pastor, and writer was his ability to share the spiritual insights he gained on his life journey in a meaningful and timeless way. And such is the case with this book. As we read in the Preface, these letters to Henri’s nephew Marc were written with the intent of publishing them. But they became more than that as Henri writes in the Preface, “In the course of writing I became aware that I was engaged. . . in rediscovering Jesus and the meaning of my existence for myself.” And what did Henri discover? The quote at the top of this post is one of my favorite Henri quotes—and it says it all. But how do we live with Jesus at the center? These letters point the way.

The first letter was written on Shrove Tuesday in 1986. And Henri immediately begins with a problem that I know that many of us face today—being preoccupied with urgent matters and never getting around to what is essential and “never starting to live, really to live.” Henri restates for Marc, and for each of us, life’s essential questions (p.4) and closes with the foundational question for a Christian, “Who is Jesus for you and me?”—very similar to the question that Jesus asked his Apostles at Caesarea Philippi (Mt 16:13).

Written in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Henri’s second letter uses the gospel story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus to explore and explain the spiritual freedom that comes from following Jesus—a freedom that “enabled them to stand on their own two feet in the world, without being manipulated by that world. Their freedom was such that they had even overcome, to a great extent, the fear of death.” (p. 17). <Photo:Andreas Schwarzkopf, CC BY-SA 4.0, WikiMedia Common>

Henri, a Catholic priest, is writing to his Catholic nephew in the rapidly secularizing Netherlands. Henri emphasizes his Catholic understanding of the Eucharist throughout the book—making this one of Henri’s most “Catholic” books. Those of you with a different understanding of the Eucharist might consider Henri’s eucharistic reflections as pointing to the presence of Jesus in our world today—the same presence that was experienced by the disciples at Emmaus, “(T)he Jesus in whom they placed all their hopes, the Jesus who was indeed dead and buried, this Jesus is alive.” (p. 14)

You are encouraged to share and discuss whatever came up for you in the readings. You are also welcome to share your reflections and insights prompted by the comments of others. The thoughts and insights shared by the participants provides the heartbeat for every Henri Nouwen book discussion. Here are a few questions that may help get the discussion going, but please don’t feel bound to them.

  1. The spiritual life has to do with the heart of existence. (p. 5)
    Consider Henri’s first letter and reflect on your understanding of the spiritual life. Share what you discover to the extent you are willing.
  2. But you know yourself that Freiburg doesn’t tell the whole story. . . . From everywhere there comes news of violence and oppression. (p. 11-12)
    As we journey through Lent, we are witnessing aggression and violence that has not been seen in Europe in eight decades. How have events of the recent past influenced your spiritual life and your attitude entering this Lent?
  3. Freedom belongs to the core of the spiritual life. (p. 18)
    How has Henri’s reflection on the gospel story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and its relationship to spiritual freedom influenced your understanding of freedom and how will you respond?

As we enter in to this first week of Lent there is much to share from our reading and we look forward to hearing from many of you. It is an joy to be gathered with each of you, those posting comments, and those following along silently. Everyone is welcome here.

Peace and all good.
Ray

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38 Responses to Mar 6th to Mar 12th: First Week of Lent

  1. Beth says:

    I was a bit surprised in Letter 1 to see, “Even those who see themselves as nonreligious can have a profound spiritual life.” I guess that pertains to what he said earlier about the heart, “I mean the center of our being, that place where we are most ourselves, where we are most human, where we are most real.”

  2. Brenda says:

    “Who is Jesus for you and for me?” Through continuing prayer and “listening” I hope I can find the courage to surrender and like Henri , make Jesus the center of all that I do. I know I will not know spiritual freedom until I do. I find myself struggling with the issues of “this world” far too much. Grateful to see that this is finally subsiding here in NH. Prayer and the Word has been my saving grace. I have been away from the Sacraments once again since the Ohmicron variant outbreak over this past five months. So grateful to see it finally subsiding here in NH.

    Letter II helped me to “see” more clearly the gift of grace and freedom that the Lord bestowed upon his two disciples on the Road to Emmaus with the Lord. I have always loved this reading and the painting inspired by it showing Him walking with them on the road. Henri’s letter gives me hope that I too could experience such grace and understanding if I but “listen” more. Wonderful book.

  3. Barbara Pymm says:

    Such rich insights! I love the way Henri encourages us to own up ‘to our confusion, depression, despair and guilt’ (p.16) and it’s right there that Jesus makes himself known. This is so helpful in our prayer for Ukraine. It’s as we acknowledge our need that He comes to us, sitting beside us in our pain. And as we choose to worship Him as the One worthy of our focus instead of the suffering, so He releases His light into the darkness. He is truly our Light and Salvation!

  4. Janet Edwards says:

    While reading these letters about our relationship with Jesus, I can see a special icon on my end table titled “I call you my friends”. Jesus is standing next to a disciple with his arm around his shoulder. I am reminded that Jesus is with me always, as He promised.

    I grew up in a tradition where the elements were distributed to us in the pews. The first time I experienced walking up to the altar and receiving the bread and wine , I was very moved with feeling that I was welcome at Jesus’ table. Henri’s writing about the disciples, who may have been husband and and wife, and their welcome to Jesus to stay with them, reminded me to welcome Jesus in my life every day and remember that He said whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Him.
    I am also interested in reading the authors Henri mentioned who did not lose their spiritual freedom despite the horrific conditions they faced. I think of and pray for the Ukrainians every morning when I pray the Psalms. So many of them call our to God for deliverance!

  5. Sharon says:

    The spiritual life has to do with the heart of existence. (p. 5)

    I am finding that the spiritual life has much to do with intention. What I pay attention to drives my thoughts and actions. I have found that I have been much more intentional since the onset of COVID-19 two years ago. I started a contemplative prayer practice that I (mostly) am able to keep up with and have started being more careful about what I read and watch. That intention has changed my perception of the world and has made me more sensitive to the struggles of others’ lives.

    As we journey through Lent, we are witnessing aggression and violence that has not been seen in Europe in eight decades. How have events of the recent past influenced your spiritual life and your attitude entering this Lent?

    When I was on active duty, international events such as this directly affected my life. Now that I am retired, I realize that I have very little direct influence on foreign affairs. I have decided to pray for peace.

    How has Henri’s reflection on the gospel story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and its relationship to spiritual freedom influenced your understanding of freedom and how will you respond?

    I always like the characterization of Jesus from the book “The Shack” by William P Young, that of a friendly carpenter, a loving, warm person that could be your best friend. I have never had that type of relationship with Jesus. Was it because I was embarrassed to consider him so emotionally, even to myself? I don’t know.
    Now, especially, I am reading many stories of hardship and how people overcame them. Rev Cameron Trimble, in her newsletter, Piloting Faith, https://mailchi.mp/bd2722b7ecad/wcyrz8ckz9-10892234?e=2f8aa6f120 ,
    relates the following story:

    “ Years ago, in the old city of Jerusalem, I met a woman who made stoles for a living. As I was browsing through her store, I asked her how she started making them.
     
    Many years before, her three children had been with her in the market one day. She was off buying some vegetables for their dinner that evening when she heard someone scream. She looked back just in time to watch her children – her life – as they were blown from the face of the earth by a suicide bomber. Can you imagine the horror? Can you imagine the unspeaking, crushing pain?
     
    She spent the next year of her life in a numb fog, trying to understand how and why this could happen. Until finally, she stopped. She awoke one morning realizing that there are no good answers to these questions. What would answers bring her anyway? What she had to do was to decide how to live.
     
    Her way of living in the midst of her woundedness was to start making stoles. To her, they became signs of peace and love. She has a vision of people all across the world wearing them as they spoke for peace, marched for justice, and cared for the sick. In her brokenness, she turned to love, gifting us all with her testimony, her handmade art, and her unfailing grace.
     
    When I found the stole I wanted to buy, she placed it over my shoulders. Looking me in the eyes, she said “This is a symbol of peace that I give to you this day. May every day of your life bring peace to our earth and love to all people.” It was the most powerful commissioning I have ever known.”

  6. Norm Windle says:

    1. The spiritual life has to do with the heart of existence. (p. 5)
    For me the spiritual life has to do with being connected to the Spirit of God. This extends to all aspects of life regardless of their explicit religious nature. For me life itself is constant struggle to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25).
    2. But you know yourself that Freiburg doesn’t tell the whole story. . . . From everywhere there comes news of violence and oppression. (p. 11-12)
    It reminds me that there is violence and oppression all around me and not just on the nightly news.
    3. Freedom belongs to the core of the spiritual life
    This is not a concept that can be easily grasped without sufficient reflection. Freedom from anxiety is one example that comes to mind. How can one experience this freedom as Nouwen outlines it in his writing?

  7. Beverly Weinhold says:

    Every time I participate in a Henri Nouwen book discussion, the themes discussed target the most poignant issues that I am dealing with in my own life. This time is no different. So the idea that “freedom belongs to the core of the spiritual life” (18) is spot on.

    Trying to wrap my head around interior freedom started 7 years ago when I began to meet with my Spiritual Director, Sister Mary. When I was emotionally entangled in a viscerally intense problem she would stress entering silence and coming to calm for the sake of seeing myself in Jesus belovedness and being “free.” But it’s taken me years to touch the fringes of that interior freedom.

    Black pastor and author Howard Thurman (“Jesus and the Disenherited”), deepened my understanding when he referred to his enslaved ancestors and anyone who feels oppressed or victimized as those who with their “backs against the wall.” His antidote was less about marching in the streets or passing laws in the Senate and more about claiming our identity as children of God all created equally. From that posture he called people to raise their heads high and stand on their own two feet living into their dignity regardless of status or staion. MLKJr was mentored by Thurman which is why he always prayed before he spoke or marched for social justice.

    Henri seems to be speaking to people with their backs against the wall in Letter II; “Jesus: The God Who Sets Us Free” (11). The two men walking to Emmaus were despairing and maybe feeling duped by Jesus still seeing themselves bound by Roman Rule. Jesus comes along side, listens to their story and shows His true identity in the breaking of the bread. In that moment maybe Cleopas and his companion saw their true identity too; a little like Peter in prison, who dropped his chains and walked past the guards out the door to a new dawn. For “amid the most frightful forms of oppresssion and violence these people discovered within themselves a place where no one had power over them…where they were wholly free” (Ibid, 16).

  8. Charlie says:

    I liked your Question 3 Emmaus story / spiritual freedom how will I respond? As Thomas Merton says “ as a person is so he prays.” So I will pray with confidence knowing Jesus is guiding and caring for me even when that guidance and prayer are not immediately apparent. I can now come closer to living in complete detachment from the ups and downs of life . God is the center. As Saint Ignatius said “ we should not prefer health to sickness , riches to poverty, honor to dishonor , a long life to a short life.” We are spiritually free . We rise above the threats of the world . We obtain real power from God’s grace. Now my prayers continue as a new spirit. As I am a new spirit so I pray.

    • Beverly Weinhold says:

      Charlie,
      I appreciate your reminder of St Ignatius’ “holy indifference” that flows from detachment to your good point of coming from the Center that does not prefer “health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor or a long life to a short life.” I can tell you honestly, I wish I was farther down that path. Somehow, something about Covid surfaced my strong attachments and my calm Center ceased to be so balanced!!! May God renew my Spirit and strengthen my faith.
      Thank you. Beverly

  9. Sharon Hall says:

    I especially appreciate Letter II. The thoughts about the Eucharist Lord’s Supper really are on the mark, in my opinion. Intending to try to read the books Henri Nouwen lists by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Etty Hillesum and Titus Brandsma. A very important letter to Marc and also us readers too.

  10. Sharon K. Hall says:

    Letter II is especially intriguing to me. I googled Cleopas to read more about him. Also Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Etty Hillesum and Titus Brandsma—all people Henri Nouwen lifts up in this letter to Marc. To, even my contemporary communion experiences, seem somehow captured in this Lucan scripture involving Cleopas and his friend. Am also reading The Priest’s Communion With Christ: Dispelling Functionalism by Father Eugene M. Florea and he is thinking and backing with Church statements that an ontological relationship with Jesus helps clergy to be strengthened in their service, rather than a functional clerical identity. Just to also probe the Protestant side have also started reading Union With Christ: Salvation As Participation — A Contemporary Protestant Scholastic Theology by Jordan Cooper. Honestly, I believe Henri Nouwen is communicating something truly profound in this chapter about the deepest dimensions of the Eucharist Lord’s Supper, particularly as he ends the letter on page 19.

  11. Mary Roth says:

    In regard to first question about the spiritual life and reading Henri’s first letter my thought is that it encompasses all of me . It includes the physical, emotional and the intellectual. Every breath I take has it’s source in God and since that gives me life everything that comes from living should be my reflection of my ties to God.
    In respect to the physical I was taught years ago my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Emotionally – because I deal with relationships and the feelings I deal with others have to align with God’s relationship with me . Intellectually-because questions constantly tug at my beliefs and force to reevaluate what and why I believe
    So everyday with my first morning breath I have to recommit to nourishing and strengthening my spiritual life

  12. Christopher Ciummei says:

    I was particularly enamored of Letter II and it’s focus on freedom being the key to the true spiritual life. Cleopas and his friend had a spiritual transformation literally overnight. We tend to think as people that miracles and transformations take a long time and are arduous tasks. However, Jesus, through Nouwen, shows us here that we can take charge of our spiritual freedom at any time. It’s not something we have to wait for or agonize over. It’s something that we have right now, and utilize to bring peace to ourselves, our families, friends, and those in need.

  13. Cheryl Miller says:

    On page 15 Nouwen writes “The most tragic, the most painful, the most hopeless circumstances can become the way to the liberation you long for most of all”. These words have helped me settle the deep sadness I am feeling for the people in Ukraine. I must remember the Jesus I know will be with them in their deepest fear and sorrow.

    • Christopher Ciummei says:

      And it’s never an easy path, right? But it is a hopeful and motivating path. It is a true path of peace and reconciliation.

  14. Dana McGowan says:

    Reflections from letter 1: There are so many people with problems that are, like Marc’s life, “scarcely problems” for me. So with gratitude to God for this comfortable life I’ve been given, I have the time to get closer and closer to the center of my being where lies my authentic self. And I am not always 100% real but have found that I can be and am when my center has Jesus at its core.
    And like Nouwen I’ve become “immersed in problems of church and society” realizing that my wearisome discussions about social injustices are filled with anger in the guise of passion. If I truly live with “Jesus at the center”, I will have to have a conversion to forgiveness, patience, and love for those doling out the injustice. (Praying for all persons oppressed and murdered in Ukraine and in other countries.) ❤

  15. Rick says:

    Letter II spoke to me in so many ways but Nouwen’s thoughts about freedom Jesus gives to Cleopas and his friend helps them discover who Jesus is. I liked Nouwen’s use of spiritual freedom being different for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Etty Hillesum, and Titus Brandsma. “Amid the most frightful forms of oppression and violence these people discovered within themselves a place where no one had power over them, where they were wholly free. . . Their freedom was such that they had even overcome, to a great extent, the fear of death.” With the news of the war in Ukraine, I cannot fathom how this feels but can only imagine what I would do if I had to face this kind of oppression and violence. Nouwen tells us that Jesus gives us hope that “the freedom Jesus gives doesn’t imply that oppressors can go on oppressing, that the poor can stay poor and the hungry stay hungry, since we are now, in a spiritual respect, free. My prayers for the people of Ukraine is that they feel this hope in Jesus even though they cannot see/feel it in now in a physical, emotional, social and global reality in the world today. We need to support the people of Ukraine by giving to them in their time of need the assurance that we can “form a new bond of fellowship with them. In short, the freedom to love and to work for a free world.” We need to also remember that the Russian leaders are forcing this on the Ukrainian people. We need to pray that Jesus is working through his church in Russia and the Russian people, to change the thoughts and minds of their leadership to stop this horrible oppression and violence. With the news of peace talks between these two nations, I pray for this peace and the restoration of love and freedom in the world today for this area of Europe.

    I also enjoyed Henri’s thought about the Lord’s supper and how he ties it into the theme of the letter he is writing to Marc and to us. That it is how we can be closer to Jesus.

  16. Connie says:

    The gospel story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus came to mind when reflecting on what I hoped to gain from this online book discussion, likening it to the journey Cleopas and his friend were on. I couldn’t find the words and ran out of time and was shocked to find it was the topic of Henri’s second letter.
    Given the events in Ukraine, that letter seems especially relevant, relevant and difficult to accept. I tried to imagine what I’d do if I were in Ukraine. Due to my mom’s lack of mobility, we’d be hunkered down in the subway. So, for consolation, I’ve tried to think about what Jesus would do. I’d like to think of Jesus as a superhero who swoops in, a shining light that moves Russian soldiers to lay down their weapons and break bread. Like Cleopas and his friend, for me, liberation still means ‘shaking off the Roman yoke.’
    But that’s not what happened in Gethsemane. What would Jesus do? Would he admonish the Ukrainians to lay down their weapons as he did with the disciple who drew his sword? Would he advocate for peaceful resistance, civil disobedience, or leaving like Joseph and Mary?
    I understand the concept of ‘spiritual freedom’ much as I understood Victor Frankl’s quote “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” from Man’s Search for Meaning. I understand them intellectually but my heart’s holding out for the superhero and I’m hoping this journey takes me a little bit closer to the freedom Jesus gives.

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Connie,
      I too thought of Victor Frankl’s quote. Thank you for sharing.
      Ray

      • Dana McGowan says:

        Connie, Ray. I did also. In high school, I thought this was one of the most profound thoughts I ever heard. And since then, I am comforted to know that I can be stripped of everything yet still have something -my own soul. You can’t take that away from me.

    • Jennifer Leah says:

      Very intriguing sentiments. I share similar thoughts and desires to know Jesus’s peace a bit more. Thank you.

  17. Sherman Bishop says:

    In chapter 2 Nouwen writes:
    “Jesus makes us see existence in terms of his own experience that life is stronger and greater than death and dissolution. It’s only with our hearts that we can understand this. Luke doesn’t write: “Then it dawned on them” or “Then they saw the light.” No, he says, “Their hearts burned within them.” The burning heart revealed something completely new to Cleopas and his friend. At the center of their being, of their humanity, something was generated that could disarm death and rob despair of its power; something much more than new outlook on things, a new confidence, or a new joy in living; something that can be described only as a new life or a new spirit.” (Nouwen, chapter 2)

    This insight is spot on. Over the last few years, and primarily reflecting on insights from Henri’s writings, I have come to appreciate more and more that our spirituality is centered on a relationship with Jesus who calls us beloved. A relationship that causes one’s heart to burn within one. He makes that clear in unpacking the Emmaus Road story, and how the risen Christ meets these followers, first in companionship, then through the word, and finally in the breaking of the bread. That pattern is not one unfamiliar to me, and I assume many others.

    To walk with Jesus, to trust in his grace, forgiveness and love, is to open ones heart to a new spirit and a new life. This frees one to authentically and generously love one’s neighbor. This frees one to forgive as we have been forgiven. It frees one to speak of the God who loves us and destroys the power of death that wants to chain us up and control us. “For freedom Christ has set us free”, so wrote Paul to the Romans. May we lean into that truth, and live into that love, and so be a source of transformation in the world.

  18. Michael Boyd says:

    I focus my energy on a life of the material, the physical, and the intellectual. Certainly, it is something of an occupational hazard for me in my role as a research supervisor for doctoral students. I am consumed by the urgent rather than the important. Too rarely do I ask the question proposed by Henri: “who is Jesus for you and me?” And then the pandemic and the war in Ukraine both explode and make Henri’s question, “who is Jesus for you and me?” the most urgent and important question of my existence.

  19. Niki Hyde says:

    As always and in true form Henri has greatly impacted my life through his works. He has revealed to me/we how ‘Beloved’ we are, how unique our brokenness is and so much more. And now, this little book wonderfully reveals how we can be wholly free, away from the tug and manipulation of this world. Freedom of the heart without a broken spirit amongst suffering and pain. Goodness why would I ever want to miss knowing Jesus.

  20. Julie says:

    How have events of the recent past influenced your spiritual life and your attitude entering this Lent?

    The pandemic and the war have both forced me to focus more on my life choices: how do I spend my energy and time? As I enter this Lent, I want to let go of the seemingly urgent things – most of these societally dictated – and keep Jesus at the center of my life. I want to be more present, more compassionate, more kind, more loving. I want to be these for myself and my loved ones and the people in my community.

  21. John says:

    Best I can determine, these letters were sent to Marc in the 80’s after his visit to Concord, NH. At that time, I lived 15 miles west, frequenting Concord often on the weekends. This is partly why I am on this Lenten journey (from NH) with you all as I originally thought of doing a different journey after many years of Advent/Lenten book discussions. But God has his ways of drawing me in. Wish I could write to Marc now to share that part of my journey, and his. I would share how Henri’s sharing has influenced my spiritual life, which is more and more the heart of my existence. What softened my heart most in the Emmaus letter is that they, (as I so often do) failed to recognize Jesus and “at the precise moment of certainty”, Jesus becomes invisible. I pray the invisibility of Jesus in the Ukranian suffering, will be comforted by the breaking of bread in Poland and Hungary etc. I pray also that the world for whom Jesus seems so invisible will begin to see Jesus as their center whenever they sit and break bread. Bless you all on this journey!

    • Ray Glennon says:

      These letters were written during Lent starting on Shrove Tuesday, 1986 with the final letter written several months later in September 1986 after Henri’s arrival at L’Arche Daybreak. It was a transformational time in Henri’s life.

    • Beverly Weinhold says:

      John,
      You raise a really interesting point wanting to “write to Marc now to share that part of my journey and his.” It would really be rich to hear how Marc thinks about these letters now since he was about 19 when they were written. Maybe Ray has already addressed this somewhere (or the book will), but knowing the impact these letters had on Marc would be informative and perhaps transformative too.

      On another note, I too am from NE (although now living in Louisville). I was born and raised in NH and lived most of my life in MA with this short diversion to KY. My hope is to make it home this summer.

  22. Kathleen Canterbury says:

    I believe that this Lent is much more meaningful for me, perhaps because of all the turmoil in the world, or maybe (hopefully) I am growing in my faith. These readings so far have given me a new outlook on Jesus, on in which the emphasis is placed on Jesus asking us to allow him in the center of our hearts rather than us just asking us to enter his. So simple; ‘ask and you shall receive’. So much joy comes from that! And so much more energy to do more for Him.
    I also thoroughly related to the second letter, ‘The God who Sets us free’. Perfect timing with the many frightful events we are facing in every part of today’s world and the moral decline we see every day. So easy to feel depresses and disenfranchised. so easy to have our thoughts and worries interrupt spirituality. Henri really clarified the Emmaus story for me. further validation of the fact that our joy comes when we know we have let Jesus into the center of our heart and he will be with us in everything we do as long as we allow Him to stay. He is in our center and centers us in every way. I also noted the Emmaus pattern when I attended mass this morning.

  23. Ray Glennon says:

    Friends,
    We have continued to receive so many wonderful introductions in the post from March 2nd to March 5th, including expressions of concern and prayers about the horrific situation in Ukraine. If you have not already seen them, you can access them here http://wp.henrinouwen.org/?p=1940 or by clicking on the Recent Posts and Recent Comments links at the top of the right hand column.

    A special thank you to Nadia for sharing the story of her mother’s journey to safety from Ukraine to Hungary.

    As St. Francis said to those he met, “May the Lord give you peace”–especially to all those in harms way in Ukraine.

    Ray

  24. Gerri Batchelor says:

    The idea that freedom was/is the most fundamental of the revelations of Jesus eluded me. For me, the most fundamental revelation is that God loves us. For me, our relationship is built on my receiving that love and learning to live in it, return it, and live through and with it guiding me. Perhaps that is where the freedom lies. It is grace and not a transactional relationship.

  25. David says:

    I confess that it is difficult to keep Jesus at the center 24/7. I am distracted by what is in front of me (many of these things are positive and worthy of my focus) and slip into tending to those things that appear to be most important. Nouwen’s idea of “living” rather than “thinking” the spiritual life says to me that Christ wants more of a partnership with us as we live in community and do the work that He has given us. How does one form that partnership with Jesus at the center? How do we keep that notion forward rather than in the background?

  26. Vivian says:

    As I sit here in freedom, my heart aches for the Ukranian people. In the midst now of oppression, war, families being torn apart, towns being demolished, heart breaking separations, deaths, I ask myself how can the Ukranian people go deeper, beyond the surface, to the “heart” of existence. How are they suppose to settle in to the “terrain” where the meaning and goal of our human existence are hidden. I ask myself, could I do it? I can only pray, pray for the people at the critical time. God Bless them all.

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