Reading: Becoming the Beloved – IV Given
This week we explore the fourth aspect of becoming the Beloved – to be given.
1) Henri shares his experience that “it is only as people who are given that we can fully understand our being chosen, blessed, and broken. In the giving it becomes clear that we are chosen, blessed and broken not simply for our own sakes, but so that all we live finds its final significance in its being lived for others” (p105).
a) Do you ever find yourself holding back from giving to others? What causes us to hesitate? What do we fear most in giving?
b) Is that thing we fear the truth or could it be a lie?
c) What happens when we hold back from giving, especially in our most intimate relationships?
2) Henri encourages us that “we become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life… all our life” (P106) and later writes that “…friendship, kindness, patience, joy, peace, forgiveness, gentleness, love, hope, trust, and many others… are the true gifts we have to offer each other” (p114).
a) Has a stranger ever gifted you a smile, and it lifted your spirit? Or vice versa?
b) Who in your life needs you to truly share a part of yourself with them this week? INVITATION: This week, every day ask God to help you see the person who needs a smile, a handshake, a word of love, or just some part of you. The invitation includes acts towards strangers (except maybe the kiss ;)), but be especially aware of what you can give to those closest to you, “especially on days when you experience distance between yourselves” (p109).
3) Finally, Henri also wants us to consider how our death can be a gift to others. “If love is, indeed, stronger than death, then death has the potential to deepen and strengthen the bonds of love” (p117).
a) Will your death, be a celebration of a life lived with love?
INVITATION: Consider what Murray did to prepare himself for his death (although he didn’t know when he would die). Ask yourself how you want to live now, so that when your time comes it will be a gift to others to reflect on your life and be inspired by it. “You and I have to trust that our short little lives can bear fruit far beyond the boundaries of our chronologies. But we have to choose this and trust deeply that we have a spirit to send that will bring joy, peace, and life to those who will remember us” (p120, italics mine).
NOTE: I think all here will intuitively know this, but taking ones own life can never, ever, be a gift to others. Henri does not suggest we hasten our death, only that we prepare well for it.
4) Finally, I wanted to share this special letter written by Henri over twenty years ago. It is a simple letter, but touches on so much of what we’ve explored together this Advent. The woman he was writing too was someone who sent Henri and his community cookies and fresh bread every now and then… by courier, I assume. This woman, if I understand correctly, struggled with a chronic and debilitating illness for much of her adult life. Yet, in her simple act of care for another, we see how she was chosen, blessed, broken and given:
This letter is a reminder that it doesn’t have to be complicated… it just has to be from your heart, and done in love.
As always, you are invited to share whatever came up for you in this week in the readings. I very much look forward to hearing from each of you!
p.s. apologies to all who have a different version of the book, and therefore the page numbers don’t match… I only have this one version, so I couldn’t cross reference.