July 20th to July 26th: Lifting the Cup

Reading:  Part Two — Lifting the Cup
We lift the cup of life, to affirm our life together and celebrate it as a gift from God.

The beautiful, poignant, and compassionate sharing among those gathered here has already demonstrated that we are, as Henri writes, willing to “…lift up our cup in a fearless gesture, proclaiming that we will support each other in our common journey…”    In this virtual space we are already creating community.    This week Henri challenges us to grow in our understanding of the nature of community and its importance to the spiritual life using three memorable examples.

1.  According to Henri, “Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows but make them visible to each other in a gesture of hope.”  And what does community look like?  He uses the example of “one big mosaic portraying the face of Christ…(where) each little stone is indispensable and makes a unique contribution to the glory of God.”

Mosaic icon of “Christ Pantocrator”  in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (Details shown at left) Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mosaic icon of “Christ Pantocrator” in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (Details shown at left)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Henri reminds us, “…when we live our life for others we not only claim our individuality but also proclaim our unique place in the mosaic of the human family.”  Then he asks a probing question:  “Do we have a circle of worthy friends where we feel safe enough to be intimately known and called to an always greater maturity?”   Henri concludes, “We need community, a community in which confession and celebration are always present together.  We have to be willing to let others know us if we want them to celebrate life with us.”

In this section you might review Henri’s words and the mosaic as they may apply to your life experience.    Look at the groups to which you belong, and consider which of them are communities as described here.   Reflect on the times when you have lifted the cup of your life with those communities and the blessings that you have received.   Looking ahead, are you prepared to trust in the love of God and “…willing to let others know us”  so that true community can result?  What steps have you taken or can you take to build community in you life?

2.  Henri illustrates the power of community by telling the wonderful story of lunch with Trevor.   According to Henri, “Trevor’s toast radically changed the mood in the Golden Room…. Trevor did what nobody else could have done.  He transformed a group of strangers into a community of love by his simple, unself-conscious blessing.”
You might want to think about the players in this story — Henri, the hospital chaplain, the hospital staff, Trevor, and each of us as the readers.  How do the various players view and experience community?  What do we learn about them, and ourselves, as the story unfolds?  Did you develop any new insights about community?

3.  Henri concludes his reflection on “Lifting the Cup” with the example of Bill’s Life Story Book.  Henri writes of Bill, “Over the years he has created a life worth living.”  Henri describes the celebration of Bill’s life that accompanied the completion of Bill’s book.  He asks us to look at our own lives and dare to say, “I am grateful for all that has happened to me and led me to this moment.”  Moreover, he challenges us to “take all we have ever lived and bring it to the present moment as a gift for others, a gift to celebrate.”
To begin you reflection you could consider the celebration of Bill’s Life Story Book.  Then take a look at your life experience. How have you created a life worth living?  Reflect on your life–the joys and the sorrows–and lift it up, ponder it, and find cause for celebration and gratitude.

Once again, the reading this week is deceptively simple and rich in meaning.  The three topics just discussed are merely suggested reflections for your consideration.  We are interested in your comments on these suggestions or something that touched you.  Of course, you are also welcome to follow along silently.  We are blessed by your presence.

May the Lord give you peace.

Ray

Posted in Summer 2014 Can You Drink the Cup? | 7 Comments

July 13th to July 19th: Holding the Cup

Reading: Part I – Holding the Cup
Before we drink the cup, we must hold it!

July 17th Update:  Just a quick reminder, especially for those that may be new to these book discussions.  This is a very informal community and the questions below are merely intended to help us start reflecting, nothing more. The most important ideas to ponder are those that touched you in the reading.   Our community will be blessed your by anything you choose to share or by your silent participation… Ray Glennon

Welcome back!  Last week we shared our initial reflections on Jesus’ question “Can you drink the cup?” perhaps without really understanding the full implication. This week we explore what it means to hold the cup as the first step toward drinking.

Henri reminds us that to fruitfully drink the cup, “You have to know what you are drinking… Similarly, just living life is not enough.  We must know what we are living… Half of living is reflecting on what is being lived… Reflection is essential for growth, development, and change.  It is the unique power of the human person.”

This is a rich section with many meaningful ideas to ponder.   The three included here are offered to help get us started.  You may respond to these suggestions, share your thoughts on something that touched you, or follow along silently.  Regardless of how you participate, you bless us with your presence in our community.

1.  After noting that, like wine, there are countless varieties of lives, Henri says, “I have my own life to live… Many people can help me to live my life, but… I have to make my own decisions about how to live.”  Referring to the sculpture of Pumunangwet (see photo), Henri writes: “He knows who he is… like that warrior, we must fully claim who we are and what we are called to live.” (p. 32-33)

Pumunangwet at Fruitlands Museum Photo Courtesy of Marty Thornton (New England Impressions)

Pumunangwet at Fruitlands Museum
Photo Courtesy of Marty Thornton
New England Impressions
(Click image for larger version)

Review your own life experience and consider:  Do you know who you are and have you claimed it?   What decisions have you made to live “what you are called to live” and how did you arrive at those decisions?   Who are some of the people that have helped you along the way?  If you are willing, share what you found.

2.  Recalling his early years at L’Arche, Henri describes how he became deeply aware of his own sorrows through the lives of those at the heart of the community and their assistants; he then looks at the world and sees much suffering.  Henri writes: “For each of us our sorrows are deeply personal.  For all of us our sorrows are universal.”  (p. 38)
Reflect on the sorrows you have encountered in your past and those that you are living with now. Do the same for the sorrows in our world today.  Seek to see the hope that is ever present in our suffering.  Prayerfully and confidently place those sorrows at the foot of the cross and offer them to Jesus and reflect on how you feel having done so.  If you are comfortable, share your experience with our community.

3.  Looking back on ten years in his L’Arche home, Henri fondly recalls how the people he lives with fill him with immense joy.  He writes of the “joy of belonging, of being part of, of not being different.”   Joining this realization to the “new language” he heard in the words of Jesus, Henri continues:  “The cup of life is the cup of joy as much as it is the cup of sorrow.  It is the cup in which sorrow and joys, sadness and gladness, mourning and dancing are never separated.  If joys could not be where sorrows are, the cup of life would never be drinkable.”  (p. 50-51)
Thoughtfully recall  the joys and the sorrows in your life.  Identify when your joy was hidden in your sorrow and reflect on how you moved from sorrow to joy.  Remember when joy offered comfort as you confronted sorrow and suffering.   Prayerfully recall when Jesus’ presence strengthened you, comforted you, and brought you joy.   Share how the cup of joy is manifested in your life and, if you are willing, how your joy mixes with your sorrow so you can drink your cup of life.

There is so much to reflect on in this section and we look forward to hearing from many of you.   May the Lord give you peace.

Ray

Posted in Summer 2014 Can You Drink the Cup? | 47 Comments

July 6th to July 12th: Prologue and Introduction

July 10th Update… The Henri Nouwen Society website will be migrated to a new server on Saturday evening.   Therefore, please submit your final comments on the Prologue and Introduction by 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 12th.  The post for July 13th to July 19th: Holding the Cup will be available after website migration, either late Saturday night EDT and not later than Sunday morning.  All comments from that point on should be made on that post…. Ray Glennon

Reading: Prologue – The Chalice and the Cup;  Introduction – The Question

Last week we had the opportunity to gather together and introduce ourselves.  This week Henri writes, “I want to tell the story of the cup, not just as my story, but as the story of life” and he describes how this little book came about.   Henri begins by sharing something of his formative years.   Using the images of the golden chalice and the glass cups he reflects on his own faith journey.   Most important, he describes the moment of insight when the words of Scripture “pierced my heart” and he immediately understood the importance of seriously considering Jesus’s question “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” Henri then posed the three questions (p. 24) we will consider in the coming weeks.

But first,  we have ample food for thought and reflection in this week’s reading….

1)  Henri reflects, “It was Sunday, July 21, 1957… I was ordained to the priesthood… I will never forget the deep emotion that stirred my heart at that moment.” (p. 16) Looking back from 39 years later, it remained for Henri a day that forever changed his life.  Most of us can recall similar milestone events in our lives–events that marked phases in our journey; events that challenged our faith or our worldview; events that resulted in actions we are proud of or we regret.  You are encouraged to reflect on your own journey and to identify the milestone events in your life.  Explore your recollections and the emotions that you feel.  Consider carefully what you have learned and how you grew.  To the extent that you are comfortable, share what you discover.

2)  “My maternal grandmother was my great supporter… (she) gently introduced me to a life of prayer and encouraged me in a personal relationship with Jesus.” (p. 17)  Among the people that Henri recalls from the “garden of my youth”  he emphasizes the preeminent role played by his grandmother.   Likewise, we often have people that have played a similar role in helping us to know Jesus.  Look back at your life and identify those key people.  You might say a prayer of gratitude for their gift to you.  Where it is possible, consider reaching out to them to say “Thanks!”  If you are willing to do so, please share your story of encouragement.

3)  “My uncle Anton, who was ordained in 1922, offered me his chalice… It was a very precious gift and I was deeply moved to receive it… my uncle’s decorated golden chalice no longer expresses what I am presently living.  During the Eucharist today, I use several large cups… These glass cups speak about a new way of being a priest and a new way of being human.” (p. 21)

Nouwen Chalice CroppedHN_Dayspring_300dpi.JA

(The photograph of Henri’s chalice is by Sheila Eaton care of the Nouwen Archives.)   Considering Henri’s words here and from other of his works you have read, what does Henri’s transition from using the golden chalice to the glass cups tell you about his life experience and faith journey?   Then consider your own life and faith journey and the changes or transitions you have experienced.  If you are comfortable, share your reflections with the group.

4)  “Can we hold our life, lift our life, and drink it as Jesus did? … Jesus’ question had given me a new language with which to speak about my life and the lives of those around me.” (p. 23-24)  With these words Henri is pointing us toward next weeks’ reading and discussion.   But first we might reflect on what Henri means by a “new language” and why he might have felt it was needed.  What is it about this Gospel story that opens Henri up to realize “that taking this question seriously would radically change our lives.”?  What new insights do you think Henri gained beyond those that he had developed previously that led to the “new language”.   What insights have you gained and why does Jesus’ question challenge you?

As will always be the case, these questions are intended to assist us and to help get the discussion flowing, but not to bound or limit the conversation.  Please feel free to share whatever comes up for you in the readings and in response to the comments of others.

Finally, if you have any questions, please feel free contact me at ray.glennon@1972.usna.com or Maureen at admin@henrinouwen.org.

Posted in Summer 2014 Can You Drink the Cup? | 80 Comments

June 29th to July 5th: Gathering Together and Introductions

ReadingForward by Ron Hansen, Acknowledgements, and Outside Back Cover

July 5th Update…  The post for July 6th to July 12th: Prologue and Introduction is now available.  The comments section for this post is now closed.  Please go to the post for the week of July 6th  and submit any new comments there.    Ray Glennon

A heartfelt welcome as we gather together for our summer book discussion of Can You Drink the Cup?, one of Henri Nouwen’s most popular books. I’m glad that you will be joining us on this journey as we follow Henri’s lead and seek to find our own answer to this (not so) simple and lifelong question that Jesus poses to his friends.  The complete Summer 2014 Reading Schedule is available by following the link in the image above.

Welcome back to those who have participated in previous discussions.  You already know how rich and rewarding the exchange of ideas within our online community can be. For those joining for the first time, rest assured your appreciation of this book will be deepened by the comments and insights shared among this special group. And we will all be blessed by gathering together for this journey.

Here is how our discussion will proceed.  Each Sunday a new “post” will be added to the blog’s homepage that will include a title shown in bold, a reminder of the reading being discussed that week, and several questions that may help to get our discussion started.  You can then add your comments to the post for the current week and reply to the comments posted by others.  You may choose to respond to one or more of the questions, to share your reflections on the reading, or to comment more broadly from your life’s experience.  Please note that when comments are submitted they are held for moderation so it may be a few hours before you see your comment posted.   If you have any questions about how to use the blog, please feel free to contact me at ray.glennon@1972.usna.com or Maureen at admin@henrinouwen.org.

This week we will gather and begin to form our community.  You are invited to introduce yourself and to look ahead by considering the preliminary readings.
In your introduction you may choose to share:
a)      Your general geographic location
b)      To whom or what you dedicate your days and energy, and why
c)      How you learned about this book discussion (e.g., noticed in the Daily Meditation email, Henri Nouwen Society website, email from Nouwen Society, social media, referral from a friend)
d)     How the work and legacy of Henri Nouwen has influenced your life; you might include the name of your favorite book by Henri and briefly explain why it is meaningful to you
e)      Whether or not you’ve participated in previous book discussions, or if you are joining us for the first time
Please feel free to include your thoughts and reflections  on this weeks’ reading as well.

I look forward to hearing from each of you as we share this wonderful book together.
Ray

Posted in Summer 2014 Can You Drink the Cup? | 133 Comments

Join us as we reflect on “Can You Drink the Cup?”

Note from Ray Glennon on June 28th…  Our book discussion is underway and the Gathering Together and Introductions post for June 29th to July 5th is now available.  The comments section for this post is closed.  Please go to the post for the week of June 29th and submit any new comments there.  

We are pleased to announce a summer book discussion on Henri Nouwen’s Can You Drink the Cup? which will begin June 29th, facilitated by Ray Glennon. There is no need to register for this discussion; simply return here during the week of June 29th. Ray will welcome you with an invitation to post a brief introduction of yourself if you wish to share – there is no requirement to do so. The following Sunday (July 6th) Ray will begin a weekly posting of questions for reflection. Participate in any way that is nourishing for you – there is no requirement to ‘accomplish’ anything. You may feel moved to share your reflections or you may prefer to keep a journal during this time or reflect in solitude. Come and see!Can You Drink the Cup?

Ray Glennon

Ray will lead the Henri Nouwen Society’s summer 2014 book discussion.

RAY GLENNON actively volunteers in his parish Confirmation and adult faith formation programs. He and his wife are members of a Catholic charismatic community where he also  chairs the school board. Ray is an experienced group facilitator and throughout the summer book discussion he will work to create a safe and welcoming space that provides the opportunity for participants to reflect on the readings, and to share thoughts and encouragement with others.

Ray first became familiar with Henri’s work over 20 years ago. He came to know and trust in Henri’s written word in a special way in 2004 when he found The Return of the Prodigal Son for sale after Mass at the cathedral in Singapore at an important point in his life. Since 2010 Ray has been an active participant in nine of our Nouwen book discussions led by our regular facilitator Brynn Lawrence. Brynn will rejoin us for the Advent book discussion. In her absence, Ray has agreed to facilitate our discussion this summer. If you have any questions for Ray, please contact him directly at ray.glennon@1972.usna.com and you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/@RayGlennon.

Can You Drink the Cup? can be purchased in US dollars from our website. Please click here for purchases in Canadian dollars.

We look forward to hearing from our old friends, and welcoming new ones! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at admin@henrinouwen.org

Blessings,
Maureen Wright
Nouwen Legacy Manager
1-866-226-2158

Posted in Summer 2014 Can You Drink the Cup? | 46 Comments

April 13th to 19th: Conclusions

Reading:  Heart Speaks to Heart III “Look, here are my hands…” and Epilogue, as well as Making All This New Conclusion

We have been on an incredible Lenten journey together, and I am deeply grateful to each and every person who has journeyed with us (either actively or silently).

As with any journey, it is important to take the time to solidify what we have learned, and how we have grown, to be sure that we take it with us.

1) “Thank you for letting me believe more every day, hope more every day and love more every day” (Heart Speaks to Heart, p 57).
a) Below I’ve inserted a portion of a letter written by Henri in September of 1991.  May it remind you and inspire you to give God your full “yes” more and more every day.

Nouwen_letter_Sept_3_1991_adjusted

2) I invite you to take some time to look back over the previous six weeks and remember the most important things that Jesus spoke to you about.
a)  Please share with us the one or two things that you really want to take with you and integrate more fully into your life from here on in.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20-21

In gratitude to each of you,

Brynn

Posted in Lent 2014 | 29 Comments

April 6th to 12th: “Set Your Hearts”

Reading: Making All Things New: Part 3 “Set Your Hearts”

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 2: 22-23

As we draw near to the end of our Lenten journey, Henri wisely guides us to bring all that we have reflected on into the every day of our lives.  So that our hearts can speak to the heart of Jesus every day.  So that He can make things new in us each day.

In order to do this we develop a “spiritual discipline … the concentrated effort to create some inner and out space in our lives…” (p68).  Henri urges us towards two disciplines of prayer:  solitude and community.

1) “Without solitude, it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.  Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and him alone.”
a) When you think about setting aside regular times of solitude to be with God, what kind of resistance comes up in you (or used to)?
b) Do you find yourself afraid of the inner chaos that can erupt in such times of solitude?
c) Are you among those who have discovered the joy and healing that comes from time alone with God?  What is your daily time of solitude like?  Please share your journey with us, so that others who are just starting out with the discipline of solitude can be encouraged.

2)  “Solitude is not a spontaneous response to an occupied and preoccupied life… therefore we must begin by carefully planning some solitude” (p71).
a) If you ready to move forward in your spiritual life, begin now by planning regular times of solitude with God.  Even if you need to start with ten minutes a day.  Plan it.  Schedule it in.  Protect that time.  You are invited to share with us your commitment, so you have a sense of accountability.
b) What can you do right now to prepare a place where you can easily go for your time of solitude?
c) For those who are a little more experienced in this discipline, is there a specific Psalm, or word of Scripture that you have found to quiet your heart and focus your attention on God?
d) What are some of the other forms of solitude that you have found helpful in focusing your attention on God?

The second discipline Henri refers to is the discipline of community – “the effort to create a free and empty space among people where together we can practice true obedience.  Through the discipline of community we prevent ourselves from clinging to each other in fear and loneliness, and clear free space to listen to the liberating voice of God” (p 80-81).

1)  “Community is grounded in God, who calls us together, and not in the attractiveness of people to each other” (p83).
a) Consider the community you are in right now, marriage, friendship, family, religious life etc.  You may feel at the moment that you are not mutually compatible.  But ask God why He has called you together, ask Him what your true identity as a community is.
b) To help with question a), Henri invites us to hear the word of Scripture together in a communal silence (see page 85).  No debating, discussing, sharing or arguing.  Just a quiet listening together.  An attentiveness to each other, and an awareness of the caring presence of God.
c) Please share some other disciplines of community that you have found that help your community (marriage, friendship, family, religious life etc.) “be an act of true obedience … responsive to the way we have heard God’s voice in our midst” (p88).

Again, there is much to reflect upon in this chapter, and I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Posted in Lent 2014 | 43 Comments

March 30th to April 5th: The soldier “pierced his side with a lance…”

Reading:  Heart Speaks to Heart, Chapter II The soldier “pierced his side with a lance…”

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Colossians 1:13-14

So far on this amazing journey we are sharing, we have sought to create a conscious opportunity for our heart to speak to the heart of Jesus, free from the many things that distract us, and last week we took the time to specifically invite His Kingdom to be first in our lives.  This week we have the opportunity to reflect upon, and receive, the sacrifice Jesus made in order to bring each one of us into His Kingdom.

1) “You have given everything.  You ‘have emptied yourself, taking the form of a slave; you have humbled yourself by accepting death, death on a cross.’ Your body has been fully given for me; your blood has been fully poured out for me.  You who are love have not held back anything for yourself, but have let all your love flow from your heart to make it bear fruit in me” (p36). 
a) How do these words speak to your heart?

2) “Your broken heart… there  all suffering has been suffered, all anguish lived, all loneliness endured, all abandonment felt and all agony cried out” (p37).
a) In deep trust in His love for us, we once again have the opportunity to bring all of our suffering, anguish, loneliness and abandonment to the heart of Jesus.  Let your heart speak to His.

3) An additional opportunity this chapter brings us is to realize that we need not get stuck in our pain.  “Your precious blood flows from your broken heart to heal my broken heart, and the broken hearts of every man and woman in every time and place” (p42). 
a) To those of you who have experienced the how the blood of Jesus can heal a broken heart, please share with us your story, so that others can be encouraged, and understand how to bring their broken heart before their Healer.

4) “O Jesus, I look into my own heart and at my own hands.  There, too, I find blood… So often they have been instruments of greed and lust, of impatience and anger, of accusation and recrimination” yet “your heart knows no revenge, only forgiveness,” “the blood flowing from your heart is the blood of the innocent Lamb by which the sins of the world are washed away “(p40, 41 & 42).
INVITATION:  Come before Jesus with a heart of repentance.  Be honest with him about the “blood” on your own hands, and ask Him to wash them clean.  If you are a visual person, perhaps you can see the blood of Jesus flowing over your hands, and cleansing them.

5) “I adore you, Jesus… I thank you.  I praise you.  I love you” (p 44 and 45)
INVITATION:  Listen to your favorite song of adoration and praise (and share it with us too!), and just take time to adore Him.  You may also appreciate the song “Worthy is the Lamb” this week.

I very much look forward to hearing from you all!

Posted in Lent 2014 | 34 Comments

March 23rd to 30th: “His Kingdom First”

Reading:  Making All Things New Chapter II: “His Kingdom First”

It has been an incredible journey together so far!  In our first week we got honest about the current state of our hearts, expressing worry, fear, depression, loneliness etc.  Last week we took some time to consciously create an opportunity for our heart to speak to the heart of Jesus – to be honest with Him, and to open our hearts to receiving the great love He has for us.

This week Henri invites us to make a shift in our focus.  When we are caught in our worries or fears, it is often because we are focusing on all the negative possibilities or outcomes.  Henri reminds us to put our focus on the Kingdom of God.  Jesus came to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth, and he did so through listening intently to the Father, and acting only in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Our lives are similarly meant to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth, and we do so in the same way.

1)  It is very important that we start off by establishing that “the radical transformation of our lives is the work of the Holy Spirit” (p53).  When we live the spiritual life “successfully” in our own strength then we get the glory.  When we let the Holy Spirit do the transformational work, He gets the glory.  What is required of us is the full “yes.”
INVITATION:  Set aside 7 quiet minutes to listen to the song “I Belong to You” and give the Holy Spirit your “yes.”  Click on the words “I Belong to You” and the song will open in YouTube.

2) Henri reminds us that our “yes” involves actively shifting our focus to the Kingdom of God.  Again, transformation comes through the power of the Holy Spirit (and often is a journey), but we have a role in giving Him the opportunity to do His work in us, in part by choosing where we put our focus.
INVITATION:  Consider a difficult/worrisome situation that is on your heart, you have the opportunity to focus on one or more of the following …  

a) How might the Kingdom of God be furthered through this experience/situation?
b) What opportunity for good, or what possibility does it/could it/did it create?
c) I am totally and completely loved by my Father in Heaven (see scripture verses from last week), how can I respond to this situation out of that unshakeable love?
d) Why is my heart worried about this?  What is it really hoping for / asking me for?  Is that desire in line with seeking first the Kingdom of God?

3) As a form of encouragement to others, and to make these reflections real and understandable, please share an example of someone who lived a very difficult circumstance in life, but kept their focus on “His Kingdom First” and thereby allow God to use the circumstance for profound good (you could think of a historical figure, someone you heard about or someone you know (including yourself!).

As always, feel free to share what came up for you in the reading this week.  There is a lot to reflect on, and I look forward to hearing from each of you.

 

Posted in Lent 2014 | 56 Comments

March 16th to 22nd: “Come to me…”

Reading:  Heart Speaks to Heart, Chapter 1: “Come to me…”

Last week was an honest exploration and expression of where we are at.  We expressed worries, guilt, depression, emotional and physical pain, fears that keep us busy and busyness that we just don’t know how to calm, or whether or not we should try.  Jesus is not afraid of, or overwhelmed by, any of these things.  Rather, He invites us to bring it all before Him (Matthew 11:28-30).  In Heart Speaks to Heart, Henri guides us to speak from our heart to the heart of Jesus.

1) Henri recognizes the immense and divine love through which the Father sees us, and which Jesus came to show us.  Yet he also struggles to accept it deeply.  “It is so hard for me to believe fully in the love that flows from your heart.  I am so insecure, so fearful, so doubtful and so distrustful.  While I say with my words that I believe in your full and unconditional love, I continue to look for affection, support, acceptance and praise among my fellow human beings, always expecting from them what only you can give” (p21).
a) First of all, and this is important, I ask you to search out and share scripture verses that share the truth of God’s great love for us.
b) In your quiet time, or on your commute to work, or while you are making dinner, take these verses before Jesus and, like Henri, be totally honest about your doubts, questions, and fears.  Just put them right out there before Jesus, from your heart to His.

2) “O Lord, all you ask of me is a simple “yes,” a simple act of trust, so that your choices for me can bear fruit in my life.  I do not want you to pass me by.  I do not want to be so busy with my way of living, my plans and projects, my relatives, friends and acquaintances, that I do not even notice that you are with me, closer to me than anyone else.  I do not want to be blind to the loving gestures that come from your hands, nor deaf to the caring words that come from your mouth” (p26).
a) If Henri’s words here express your heart’s desire, then express the simple “yes” to Jesus in your own way.
You may choose to ask Jesus…
b) For help and awareness.
c) To set your heart on fire with love for Him and a desire to be in His presence.
d) For strength and endurance in your pursuit of Him.
e) To allow your life to be fruitful for Him.

3) “Help me to close the many doors and windows of my heart through which I flee from you or through which I give entry to the words and sounds coming not from you, but from a raging, screaming world that wants to pull me away from you” (p27).
a) For those who are visual this may be a helpful visualization.  When you are spending time in God’s presence, but distractions come your way in the form of worries, negative thoughts about your worth, “to do” items etc, you can imagine yourself, very gently, closing that window, or door, and thereby leaving the thought muted on the other side.  Then return your attention to Jesus/ the scripture you were pondering.
b) For me I find it very helpful to quickly jot the thought/worry down on paper, and promise to attend to it at a specific time, and actually return to it at the promised time.  Of course, if you want to bring the thought, worry, or “to do” item before Jesus, that is fine too.

4) “O Lord, you kneel before me; you hold my naked feet in your hands, and you look up at me and smile.  Within me I feel the protest arising, ‘No, Lord, you shall never wash my feet.’ It is as if I were resisting the love you offer me.  I want to say, ‘You don’t really know me, my dark feelings, my pride, my lust, my greed… No, I am not good enough to belong to you… But you look at me with utter tenderness…” (p28).
INVITATION:  Set aside a few minutes, and allow this experience to be yours.  As you read Henri’s description, sense Jesus before you.  He is holding your naked feet, ready to wash them with clean, warm water.  What protest rises up in you?  Tell Him.  And then listen to how He responds.

In reality each of these four “questions” are invitations.  Our goal this week is to create a conscious opportunity for your heart to speak to the heart of Jesus.  Looking forward to hearing from each of you!

Posted in Lent 2014 | 99 Comments