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!

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99 Responses to March 16th to 22nd: “Come to me…”

  1. Ana says:

    Thank you Brynn for these invitations. They are beautiful and the second one so speaks to me. I say all the right things and I do set a side some time to be w Jesus but I am not feeling it as they say. I know His presence is more than a feeling but my doubts are always there and I feel constantly provoked by Satan. He too is always there tempting and cajoling. To get him out of my mind I say Hail Marys and visualize the cross which helps. But unfortunately he always returns.

    • Ester says:

      dear Ana,

      you don’t have to be afraid of the evil one.
      Jesus Christ our Lord is stronger. Try maybe to say ‘our Father’s’ or pray directly to Jesus, because he conquered death and evil on the cross for us.

      Put on the armor of God, sister.

      The Armor of God

      10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

      Love, in Christ
      Ester

      • Doris Hirsch says:

        “I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me. Galatians 2:20

        I look into the gentle eyes of Jesus and see His love for me. I have no other that will walk through the storms of life as He does. So with praise I give myself to Him, seeking only to do His will.
        He is my Lord and Saviour.
        Henri Nouwen’s books have been a blessing and a challenge.

      • Donna says:

        Agree with Ester – persistence in claiming God’s full protection is important. Ana, perhaps your very effort to have a more intimate relationship with God is the reason Satan is tempting you more. Every time we seek a deep faith walk with God, Satan always tries to discourage us. “in the name of Jesus, get away from me Satan!” As Ester said, Jesus is always stronger! Be encouraged!

      • Marti says:

        This scripture has come before me 3 separate times this week, and I was not very familiar with it before. I think God is trying to get my attention. :)

  2. Marianne says:

    Romans 5:8 while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
    Romans 8:38 for I am convinced that neither life nor death, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers 39 neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Psalm 139: 13 For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my Mother’s womb.

    • Jenny Linnell says:

      The books finally arrived this week; they are a wonderful help! In the meantime I’ve followed the blog and I’m so grateful to be part of this group of fellow pilgrims.

      Scripture verses:
      John 17 : 26 I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.
      John 13 : 34 A new command I give you; Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another.
      1 John 3 : 16 This is how we know what love is; Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
      1 John 4 : 9, 10 This is how God showed his love among us. He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
      Romans 5 : 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

      1. The Bible verses all reinforce the spiritual training I have received since childhood; with the children’s simple song “Jesus Loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so!” Throughout my life I knew that Jesus loved me. But growing older one realizes more and more how deep and wide, how great His love is! And, how often I live as if I have to go through trials alone while Jesus is there right beside me and asks me to simply trust him. I fear the future for the reality of having to live in a nursing home is coming closer. I know that Jesus will be there beside me but to continue life without my husband and in a strange setting totally dependant on strangers for my care is frightening. Throughout my life Jesus has supplied all my needs, “Thank you Lord Jesus; keep opening my eyes to your great sacrifice, thank you for your love and that you understand my fears.”

      2. Jesus, I am so aware of my own weakness and realize that I cannot live without your help. Will you give me strength and endurance in my pursuit of you and allow my life, what is left of it, to be fruitful for You.

      3. Jesus, I so much need your help in closing the doors on my anxious thoughts; the constant interruptions that come my way. Thank you that now at this moment I’m able to concentrate!

      4. O Lord, what a moving scene Henri depicts; the washing of his feet by you. The knowledge that he feels not worthy of such great love; but you respond with a look at him of utter tenderness. I, too, know I am not worthy of your great love; your sacrifice on the cross, your suffering and dying for my salvation.
      “What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered Was all for sinners gain; Mine, mine was the transgression, But Thine the deadly pain. Lo, here I fall, my Saviour, ”T is I deserve Thy place; Look on me with Thy favour, Vouchsafe to me Thy Grace.”

  3. Ester says:

    hi everyone!
    Thanks Brynn!
    The first one really really speaks to me!!

    “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).”

    Sometimes I make that my God, so actually seeking unconditional God-love with fellow humans is a form of idol-worshipping.

    Dear God,
    Today I turn away from putting too much trust in my fellow human beings and I turn to you Great Father! Thank you for loving me no matter what, making me holy, clean and righteous in your eyes through Jesus your son my Savior.

    1 Corinthians 6:11
    New International Version (NIV)
    11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    In Christ,
    Ester

  4. Christine says:

    I was touched by Henri’s prayer to Jesus to “come to me.” I recognized myself in the doubts, fears, distrust, and insecurities he voiced so honestly. I think, for me, it is often a feeling of unworthiness. My inner voice asks, “Why should I be loved?” I think of the times I have failed in giving love, have fallen off and turned away and ignored the love God offered. Like Henri, I was made aware in my times of greatest pain, just how alone I could feel even around loved ones. There were times in my life – particularly following the death of one of my sons – when I felt that nothing or no one could touch my hidden places of grief and loneliness. I put up barriers to any kind of love, human or divine. Those barriers were meant to protect but created feelings of isolation. I have come to realize that it is not the lack of the offer of God’s love, but it is my inability to fully accept that offer.

    Today, when trying to sort through some of these doubts and fears, I read John 17. This is the beautiful prayer Jesus prayed before he was arrested. He speaks directly to his father. The beginning of the prayer is a poignant reminder of the work Jesus accomplished at the Father’s behest. Even though Jesus acknowledged that “the hour has come,” he was, even then, thinking of us. He must have realized that we would need help in recognizing his love for us, the great love offered through his sharing in our humanity. The words that Jesus spoke on our behalf touched me deeply. “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them as even you loved me.” I think perhaps this is the prayer I will read each day for the remainder of lent. The final line of Jesus’s prayer will stay with me as I pray and struggle to accept this almost incomprehensible love which flows from the heart of Jesus: “I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

    • Kathy ~ Salem, ma says:

      Dear Christine,
      Felt your comments in my being~ “Like Henri, I was made aware in my times of greatest pain, just how alone I could feel even around loved ones.”
      Often I have often felt out of step with the people I should feel most connected to~ so freeing to hear that feeling of isolation is not unique for me and that others have suffered through that sadness also. I have not suffered the pain of a loss of a child. Having four children I can’t imagine the strength you mustered to simply get through the days.
      Your insights are faith building and bring hope~ thank you.
      I had never really absorbed John 17 before rereading because of your reflection. I had even underlined a few of the lines in my Bible. I looked with new eyes because of your lead and I love it. “I may live in them” Again, thank you, Kathy

    • Maria says:

      Thanks for,all the sharing of hearts and scripture.
      I always go back to
      Matthew 6:26-

      Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they?

      I try to remember Christ’s sacrifice as there is no bigger sign of His love. I feel badly that we question his infinite love and mercy as he paid it all in full. Lord, help me to have a heart of thanksgiving for your immeasurable sacrifice. Jesus, I Trust in You.

    • Kathleen O'Neill says:

      Thank you, Christine. I too have found consolation in my woundedness, not from a death, as you experienced in the loss of your son, but in the loss of my moral integrity, the loss of connection with myself, my God and with others through drinking. I am now a recovering alcoholic and find the words of Jesus, Come to me….such a consolation. I believe these words and the writings of Nouwen have kissed my woundedness and brought healing to my heart.

      Thank you!

      • Christine says:

        For some reason the phrase “I was brought to my knees” has been playing though my mind. Then it occurred to me that a sharp blow or wound, or many blows or wounds over time can literally and figuratively bring us to our knees. On my knees I am in the position to pray. That, to me, is where the healing begins.

  5. Kathy Sammons says:

    As Christine says, I also relate to Henri’s doubts and misgivings. I too often turn to the human race for comfort and confirmation, however, what sustains me is the overwhelming knowledge that when God calls me I will say yes to His call. It is this feeling that helps to build my faith. When push comes to shove I choose Jesus.

    The bible passages that come to mind that describe God’s love for me is the standard John 3:16 and John 15:13 “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

    To see Jesus wash my feet shows his great love and guidance too. The knowledge of his humility is simply incredible including his statement: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
    Wow, what an awesome God!

    • Kathy ~ Salem, ma says:

      Christine~ double wow! John 16- rereading this verse certainly causes one to pause and say~Amazing Grace!

  6. Chuck says:

    This prayer represents the God that serves us- unconditional acceptance.Christine, let this be your new spirit.

  7. mary says:

    One Holy Thursday service, I was invited to participate in the ‘washing of the feet.” It was a most humbling experience as I entered into this contemplative prayer and experience. Tears rolled down my cheeks as father (Jesus ) washed my feet, then kissed them in love. My prayer was as the Centurian ” Lord, I am unworthy….but say the word, and my soul shall be healed.” I remain an unworthy servant of our Lord. He loves me anyway. I remain sinful and fallen. He loves me anyway. I am slowly learning to surrender all to HIM. He loves me anyway. My ego continues to show up in my earthly desires and emptiness. He loves me anyway. I want to trust HIM more each day. He loves me anyway. Transformation, metanoia, takes so much time for me. I am so grateful that the Lord is outside of time…and is patient with me.

  8. I really appreciate the comments that have been shared and I’m loving reading these very honest, authentic thoughts of Henri Nouwen. I so often have those feelings of doubt, distrust and as Christine pointed out unworthiness. But God has been softening my heart in that way and reminding me instead that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that is how God created us! With that knowledge I am able to see better that I am truly Beloved.

    1 John 3:1
    How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

    I have felt God speaking this to me and helped to remember that it God’s love that I for, God’s love that I need. And I am already created, sustained and redeemed by this God, not by people.

    When I feel unworthy, I’m beginning to realize that is not of God but of the world. So it helps to look honestly at where those feelings come from, or why I’d let someone else make me feel less than I am through God’s eyes.

    Just bathing ourselves in the scriptures and holding them solidly in our hearts, is a beautiful gift to our souls and who God calls us to be — in Him. For we belong to God!

    • Kathy ~ Salem, ma says:

      Children of God~ pretty awesome- I can never reflect on this enough. Thank you!

  9. Ruth says:

    After yesterday’s meditation, I decided, asking for God’s grace to remember, that if I woke up during the night (which I often do from shoulder arthritis and with my racing thoughts), instead of asking God to help me go back to sleep, I’d ask “what is it that you desire from me?” I woke up and didn’t even have to ask — off and on throughout the night, the Lord’s presence was so evident, and although I would awaken, I did not stay in that state and I feel refreshed this morning. I hope and pray this experience continues.

    Ps 63:6 – On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.

    I’m going to try to remember Ps 118:1 while at work today: Give thanks to The Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever!

    These Lenten readings are very meaningful to me; thanks to all for your inspiring comments.

    • Kathy ~ Salem, ma says:

      Ruth~ loved your words-“what is it that you desire from me?” I want them to me my mantra. Great psalm suggestions. Thank you. Kathy

    • Donna says:

      Good reminder! Spending time with God – whenever opportunity arises – especially in the dark, sleepless hours of the night – is wonderful!

  10. Kathy ~ Salem, ma says:

    My turn I guess for my actual choice of scriptual passage. Moved by reading Henri’s first chapter in Heart Speaks to Heart, I then read instuction 1a and as always I get just what I need. Into my head pops the tune and words from the hymn, “I have loved you with a never ending love.I have loved you and you are Mine” I googled the words and found out it was from Jerimiah Psalm 31:3. “With age-old love, I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you.” Thank you my God, Creator, Savior and Sanctifier.

  11. Linda says:

    Thank you everyone for your postings. I related to so much of what you shared and I also love John 16:27. Some more scriptures showing God’s love are:
    Psalm 145:8
    1 John 4:10
    Jeremiah 31:3
    Isaiah 62:5
    Psalm 103:17
    Hosea 2:19-20
    Ephesians 2:4-5

    I am old enough to benefit from being able to look back and remember clearly the times in my life when God came alongside of me during bleak times. That remembering helps me to know that He is unchanging and still walking alongside of me NOW, when I feel doubts or fears.

    • Ruth says:

      Great advice Linda! Since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrew 13:8), we can count on Him to help us now and in the future based on what He did for us in the past. Thank you for sharing this truth. May it help the younger generation of faith.

  12. Marti says:

    I wanted to share some verses recently posted by Bart from Mercy Me.

    http://thenewbart.tumblr.com/post/77623919773/proper-i-d-required

    My Identity in Jesus Christ

    John 1:12 – I am a child of God (Romans 8:16).

    John 15:1,5 – I am a part of the true vine, a channel (branch) of His Life.

    John 15:15 – I am Christ’s friend.

    John 15:16 – I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit.

    Acts 1:8 – I am a personal witness of Christ for Christ.

    Romans 3:24 – I have been justified and redeemed.

    Romans 5:1 – I have been justified (completely forgiven and made righteous) and am at peace with God.

    Romans 6:1-6 – I died with Christ and died to the power of sin’s rule in my life.

    Romans 6:7 – I have been freed from sin’s power over me.

    Romans 6:18 – I am a slave of righteousness.

    Romans 6:22 – I am enslaved to God.

    Romans 8:1 – I am forever free from condemnation.

    Romans 8:14,15 – I am a son of God (God is literally my “Papa”) (Galatians 3:26; 4:6).

    Romans 8:17 – I am an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ.

    Romans 11:16 – I am holy.

    Romans 15:7 – Christ has accepted me.

    1 Corinthians 1:2 – I have been sanctified.

    1 Corinthians 1:30 – I have been placed in Christ by God’s doing; Christ is now my wisdom from God, my righteousness, my sanctification, and my redemption.

    1 Corinthians 2:12 – I have received the Spirit of God into my life that I might know the things freely given to me by God.

    1 Corinthians 2:16 – I have been given the mind of Christ.

    1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19 – I am a temple (home) of God; His Spirit (His life) dwells in me.

    1 Corinthians 6:17 – I am joined to the Lord and am one spirit with Him.

    1 Corinthians 6:19,20 – I have been bought with a price; I am not my own; I belong to God.

    1 Corinthians 12:27 – I am a member of Christ’s body (Ephesians 5:30).

    2 Corinthians 1:21 – I have been established in Christ and anointed by God.

    2 Corinthians 2:14 – He always leads me in His triumph in Christ.

    2 Corinthians 5:14,15 – Since I have died, I no longer live for myself, but for Christ.

    2 Corinthians 5:17 – I am a new creation.

    2 Corinthians 5:18,19 – I am reconciled to God and am a minister of reconciliation.

    2 Corinthians 5:21 – I am the righteousness of God in Christ.

    Galatians 2:4 – I have liberty in Christ Jesus.

    Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I am now living is Christ’s life.

    Galatians 3:26,28 – I am a child of God and one in Christ.

    Galatians 4:6,7 – I am a child of God and an heir through God.

    Ephesians 1:1 – I am a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2).

    Ephesians 1:3 – I am blessed with every spiritual blessing.

    Ephesians 1:4 – I was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before Him.

    Ephesians 1:5 – I have been adopted as God’s Child.

    Ephesians 1:7,8 – I have been redeemed and forgiven, and am a recipient of His lavish grace.

    Ephesians 2:5 – I have been made alive together with Christ.

    Ephesians 2:6 – I have been raised up and seated with Christ in heaven.

    Ephesians 2:10 – I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do His work that He planned beforehand that I should do.

    Ephesians 2:13 – I have been brought near to God.

    Ephesians 2:18 – I have direct access to God through the Spirit.

    Ephesians 2:19 – I am a fellow citizen with the saints and a member of God’s household.

    Ephesians 3:6 – I am a fellow heir, a fellow member of the body, and a fellow partaker of the promise in Christ Jesus.

    Ephesians 3:12 – I may approach God with boldness and confidence.

    Ephesians 4:24 – I am righteous and holy.

    Philippians 3:20 – I am a citizen of heaven.

    Philippians 4:7 – His peace guards my heart and my mind.

    Philippians 4:19 – God will supply all my needs.

    Colossians 1:13 – I have been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Christ.

    Colossians 1:14 – I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. The debt against me has been canceled (Colossians 2:13,14).

    Colossians 1:27 – Christ Himself is in me.

    Colossians 2:7 – I have been firmly rooted in Christ and am now being built up and established in Him.

    Colossians 2:10 – I have been made complete in Christ.

    Colossians 2:12,13 – I have been buried, raised, and made alive with Christ, and totally forgiven.

    Colossians 3:1 – I have been raised with Christ.

    Colossians 3:3 – I have died, and my life is now hidden with Christ in God.

    Colossians 3:4 – Christ is now my life.

    Colossians 3:12 – I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

    1 Thessalonians 5:5 – I am a child of light and not of darkness.

    2 Timothy 1:7 – I have been given a spirit of power, love, and discipline.

    2 Timothy 1:9 – I have been saved and called (set apart) according to God’s purpose and grace (Titus 3:5).

    Hebrews 2:11 – Because I am sanctified and am one with Christ, He is not ashamed to call me His.

    Hebrews 3:1 – I am a holy partaker of a heavenly calling.

    Hebrews 3:14 – I am a partaker of Christ.

    Hebrews 4:16 – I may come boldly before the throne of God to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

    1 Peter 2:5 – I am one of God’s living stones and am being built up as a spiritual house.

    1 Peter 2:9,10 – I am a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession.

    1 Peter 2:11 – I am an alien and stranger to this world that I temporarily live in.

    1 Peter 5:8 – I am an enemy of the devil. He is my adversary.

    2 Peter 1:4 – I have been given God’s precious and magnificent promises by which I am a partaker of the divine nature.

    1 John 3:1 – God has bestowed a great love on me and called me His child.

    1 John 4:15 – God is in me and I am in God.

    • Claire G says:

      Thank you, Marti, for all the verses confirming God’s Love. It is a list I will go into in detail.

    • Kathy ~ Salem, ma says:

      I am going on a trip tomorrow. I was feeling concerned abit about keeping up my Lenten journey~ long plane ride- iffy internet connection- no cell phone access for awhile- God does provide! Your list will give me much fuel for reflection. Thank you Marti!

    • Kathleen says:

      Thank you for sharing this Marti.

    • Juana Maria says:

      Did not pack my Bible for the FL winter. Thank you, Marti, for providing me with all this “food” for contemplation. Can you just imagine what kind of world we would have if each of us could live as if we believed these words. Recently, my focus has been to eliminate the negativity (unworthiness ) from my prayer. I am human, God’s creation, actively involved in relating to God as best I can.

  13. Patricia says:

    I will have to search for a verse that speaks more directly about God’s love for us. But, in general, one of my favorite parts of Scripture that talks about love is 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13.
    The end part of the prayer, where Henri prays about having Jesus wash his feet, continues to be very moving for me…I can relate where he says “It is as if I were resisting the love you offer me” and “I may speak the right words, but my heart is so far from you.” Every time, I see myself, uncomfortable, restless, fidgety, looking around and looking away…unable to rest, still, and just accept what is offered…and if I force myself to be still and just look directly at Him, into His eyes, I feel so very exposed and vulnerable, and like I might start to cry… I don’t really know what to do with that knowledge of myself…

    • Kathy ~ Salem, ma says:

      Dear Patricia,
      At frightening times, I sit and pray to accept the wonder of the gift of who I am~ I am a child of God and God loves me unconditionally- the good, the bad and the ugly. I am a work in progress and God is in control.
      It’s hard sometimes but this does comfort me. You are loved! Try to rest in that amazing reality. Kathy

      • Patricia says:

        Hi Kathy–Thanks so much for this. :) I am going to keep your comments close and reflect on them. Safe travels! –Patricia

  14. Christine says:

    What a gift, this “bathing ourselves in the scriptures” as Jerry said. That is such a beautiful image to hold on to this season of Lent.
    I was thinking it is “Amazing Grace,” Kathy, that Henri Nouwen’s heartfelt and honest meditation on Matthew 11:28-30 and his beautiful ensuing prayer to the heart of Jesus acted as a starting point for all of us, with Brynn’s added invitations, to delve more deeply into the heart of the Word. I have much to contemplate from all these beautiful reflections and scripture passages that have been so generously shared. Matthew 18:20 came to mind: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” How true that rings and how grateful I am.

    • Kathy ~ Salem, ma says:

      We are two or more and then some and I too am so very grateful! Love Amazing Grace~ how sweet the sound! Kathy

  15. Ray Glennon says:

    Thanks for the assignment to find and share Scripture verses that present the truth of God’s great love for us. Here are some verses that I will be reflecting on…

    For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. (John 3:16)

    hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us… But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Rom 5:5,8)

    So be imitators of God, as beloved children and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God… (Ephesians 5:1)

    Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love…. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him… We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:7-8,16,19)

    As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love…This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. (John 15:9,12)

    And here a powerful statement from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium or The Joy of the Gospel that has become very meaningful for me. He calls it the “first proclamation” and it is the reality that I believe all Christians are called to make their own: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen, and free you.”

    Henri’s prayer was challenging for me. His words in the beginning mirror my own: “I am so insecure, so fearful, so doubtful, and so distrustful…. I continue to look for affection, support, acceptance, and praise among my fellow human beings…” And I do this more than a decade after having learned through Henri’s writing that I am, in fact, the beloved. I know that. I believe that. And I find it difficult to live that. A prayer that often say is similar to the one that Henri includes at the end of his prayer. My prayer is, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, be with me today and always.”

    May God be with each of you on our shared Lenten journey.

    Ray
    Twitter: @RayGlennon

    • Ray Glennon says:

      I want to add the Roman 8:38-39 Scripture that was mentioned by Herb and Sue Hansen in a post further below:

      For I am certain of this: neither death nor life , nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any poser, nor the heights nor the depths, or any created thing whatsoever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus the Lord. (Romans 8:38)

      What is on my heart as I write this is that I do not spend nearly enough time with Scripture – and I know it. I just need to make the commitment to do something about it.

  16. Connie says:

    Beautiful! Love and thanks to all for sharing from your hearts.

  17. Michelle says:

    It’s so interesting in a world that increasingly demands transparency & full exposure how easy it is to forget to guard our own sacred hearts and not let the poison in. While our spirits are limitless our human form only has so much emotional energy. The more we guard our hearts & selectively decide to spend emotional energy on Life giving things the more energy we have because it comes from God. The more we get caught up in using our energy around trying to figure out offenses & other emotional upsets the less energy we end up having. It brings to mind the Gospels around where one plants her seed…in good soil, on stone, in weeds or in thorns.

    • Kathy ~ Salem, ma says:

      This space, this time, these connections we are making seem to me to be especialy fertile ground~ we are all so blessed to have found the gift of this website and the Henri Nouwen Society. “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee~How Great Thou Art!” Amen!

    • Kathy Bell says:

      Jesus tells us that his burden is easy and his yoke is light. That is because He is always extending an invitation to rest in Him. We read that God’s voice is so tiny that we must be surrounded by silence and quiet to hear Him. I think that this is the receptive soil that I am trying to cultivate this Lent and beyond. When my heart and mind are in turmoil I cannot give or receive. Henri describes “a raging, screaming world that wants to pull me away from you.” The world is directed by the Prince of Light, Lucifer. What else would he want than to make certain that there is no heart to heart conversation going on between me and God? One of the most countercultural things I can do each day is to sit, read, pray and do “nothing” in the eyes of the world. I often finish with the same feeling I want to “bottle” after a vacation – peace.

      • Michelle says:

        I like that “counterculture” and am grateful to you & these others who are brave in such an important purpose in our world for we are all connected.

      • kathy w salem says:

        loved your insight~ particularly since I’m traveling and it’s tempting to keep on a “roll” experiencing so much “world” at this moment~ need to stop and silence my brain and seek my quiet connection to all that really matters~ my God who loves me and wants all good for me~ thank you, Kathy

    • Ruth says:

      It occurs to me that, even in the midst of being human, Jesus always looked to the Father for everything: His strength, His purpose, etc. It also seems that He was always giving of Himself — the washing of the disciples’ feet, the breaking of bread and drinking of wine, His obedience to the cross. Wow, Lord, your whole life was wrapped up in giving Yourself to us that we may be yours. Oh, Lord, help me, by Your strength, to pour out myself to others that they might see You, and not direct my emotional energy non-eternal things.

      Thank you, Michelle, for your words.

      • Michelle says:

        Thank you Ruth for the words that connect being centered on God with being of service to God. And for the beautiful intention & prayer for strength & courage to live on purpose this way.

    • Kathleen says:

      I like your analogy of the seed planting. When I get caught up in using my energy on emotional issues – being offended, hurt or annoyed – I’m planting seeds on stone, in weeds and in thorns rather than on fertile soil. Who wants to follow a God whose servant is critical, gossiping, complaining?

      • Michelle says:

        Thank you Kathleen

      • Miriam says:

        I am new to the discussion, but I wanted to say how much your comment spoke to me, Kathleen. I have been working on just this during Lent, and I love your analogy.

  18. Dennis says:

    “It is as if I were resisting the love you offer me” – “I may speak the right words, but my heart is so far from you.”

    There was a time in my life when I lived in the Findhorn community. Our common ground is the realization that we are unified in spirit with each other, nature and God. The work of the community is to realize this in how we relate to ourselves, each other and the universe. The community is open to people of all faiths and religions since there is nothing that separates us.

    I recall that I had a hard time saying “thank you” to people when my strengths and weaknesses were pointed out to me. I would push it off and not receive the love that was behind it. It took me a number of years to open up to Love.

    For me, I find it is a matter of listening to what is being communicated from the heart. I cannot know unconditional love unless I am offering it to others and the world. Unless I listen with the ear of my heart.

    • Sharon says:

      “We love, because He first loved us.” I John 4:19

      This is the first verse that came into my mind when I thought about His love. Love originates in Him. And through His love I can love. I only need to receive His love. This is easily said and written, but difficult to receive especially if I am filled with fears and worries. Am I worthy to receive? No….but He thinks so and loves me with all my fears, worries, shame. He accepts me as I am!

      As I went through these questions and sat reflecting on trusting Him, I visualized receiving His love. As I breathed in, I imagined receiving His love peace and joy. Then I visualized releasing those concerns to Him as I breathed out. I did this for a few minutes…which brought me more peace and freedom from my mind clutter. And I was able to recognize more of His presence with me. He is always with me..I know…however I had more of a peace and awareness that He was with me…more fully.

      And as I sat thinking about Jesus washing my feet…those that are so dirty, that represent my judging heart, an often wayward soul, my pains, struggles, hurts. I thought about how He wants to cleanse and heal those areas for me. I allowed Him to touch those areas, to gently care.. and I could see His face smiling as I received His touch, His care, His love to give me peace and release from those things that keep me from experiencing His full love and joy. His face smiled with delight as I received His love and care …as if He were saying, “Yes, I got this, it’s all good. You can trust in me. I want to do this for you.” What a beautiful loving Savior we have! I was able to release more as I recognized His desire to love me as I needed to be loved. He knows us so intimately and I am so grateful.

      Thank you for helping me come into a place like that with Jesus! I am truly blessed:).

      • Michelle says:

        Thank you Sharon for sharing your beautiful reflection & insights. It really moved me. And reminded me that the greatest gift we can give God is to make the choice to give the love God gives to each of us.

    • Kathleen says:

      I must indeed offer unconditional love to others if I am to experience it in any way. Thank you, Dennis.

  19. Dottie L says:

    My spiritual director introduced me to Zephaniah 3:17-18: ” The Lord,your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior, Who will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in His love, Who will sing joyfully because of you, as on festival days.” When I get past the feelings of unworthiness and disbelief, I am awed by God’s love…and inspired to love others and even myself, once Iam aware that God finds us so precious.

    The exercise of imagining Jesus washing my feet taught me an important lesson about myself. I have a struggle with not being able to forgive myself for things I have done or have failed to do in my past. I call it “Lot’s wife syndrome.” Recently I learned this habit prevents me from moving forward and doing good while I’m busy kicking myself (figuratively speaking).
    As I imagined Jesus at my feet with the towel and the basin, my self consciousness rose, and I was thinking of refusing or discouraging Him–even though I longed for the love and care only He can deliver. So I set this reaction before Him in prayer, and I heard Him laugh and say, “Could you please get yourself out of the way of my love and grace?”It is true, I block šo much of God ‘s love and grace whenever I watch these reruns of my mistakes. Have I finally learned, like Lot’s wife, by looking back prevents me from enjoying God’s transformative grace? Please pray that I can be mindful of this lesson when I am tempted to torment myself.

  20. Anne N. says:

    Thanks Michelle for your words on guarding our hearts and focusing on life giving things. I am really struggling with that. I left work at 9 pm last night overwhelmed w a day that had me jumping from major project to minor project and back in what seemed like 10 minute increments. I have been on the periphery of this Lenten study…reading the comments ..being both touched in moments where someones’s words penetrate my walls and overwhelmed by what feels like more on the”to do” list that I am failing to keep up with or do “right”. I am , as in question 2, so busy I do feel shut off to God’s presence. Praying I can shut some of those doors through which I flee. Thank you for the life giving visualization suggestions I will take w me this week.

    • Michelle says:

      Anne, thanks for sharing. I too have been in the midst of long work days jumping from major to minor projects amidst unrealistic demands & chaos. I heard the words I shared from somone else. And the next day these reflections & exercises were posted. I was overwhelmed by love – it felt like God saying “I’ve got you”. I knew I had to share here but I felt shy about sharing so deeply in public and sharing started to feel like another project…but I did it anyway and I am so grateful you shared too. Peace. Be blessed.

  21. Fai says:

    After this reading the word that stands out for me is TRUST. I am going though changes in my home life, work, friendships, etc. Through these changes, there is a voice that says: “remember things are going to be like they were last time”. Another says “I wonder what might go wrong”. Then another says you may need to prove yourself and show your worth. Resist, then fight, etc.

    After all these, I also hear another voice that says trust and see what happens. This weeks reading strengthens the voice that says TRUST. I will trust and see what happens.

    • Michelle says:

      Thank you. It says Trust for me like this too Fai. Lately I have actively been working on releasing the “not good enough” tapes in my mind. It can be very painful. But it’s important to me because those familiar “tapes” are barriers for me being able to be love & be loved. I recently read a quote that fear & faith both require a belief in the unknown. Now I just need only remember that quote & it helps me let go of the struggle and make a choice…I can either put trust in fear or I can put trust in faith. Thank you so much for sharing Fai. I pray for both us on this worthy purpose. Peace & Blessings

  22. Belinda says:

    In my daily busyness, I do sometimes forget that Christ is with me. In my daily busyness, I get tired. In my daily busyness, I get weary. A scripture that came to my mind as I read this week’s post is:

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30.

    Do you hear that?!? You will find REST for your souls! Jesus, the Very Son of God, lovingly invites us to His perfect rest.

    Thank you, Jesus, for these words of comfort and assurance. May we who are weary come to Your perfect rest.

    Amen.

    • kathy w salem says:

      Love Matthew 11~ must stop in the midst of all and Rest in my God who loves me! Thank you! I am not weary simply over stimulated and tempted by too easy access to many worldly temptations at this moment while traveling ~ see this, try this new food new drink, new experiences~ I must slow down- breathe and deny myself some of the available excess.
      So grateful that I have all of you to listen to and help reign me in~ I run amuck so easily despite all my good intentions. My spirit IS willing but sadly I am so weak. Kathy

  23. Herb and sue Hansen says:

    Romans 8:38 says it all!

  24. Christine says:

    First, thank you all for sharing your beautiful and inspiring and thought provoking reflections and experiences of this week’s invitations. I was touched and humbled as I read them.

    I was intrigued with Brynn’s stated goal for this week, “to create a conscious opportunity for your heart to speak to the heart of Jesus.” It had me thinking of a way I might experience something of what Henri Nouwen experienced in the writing of his “Heart Speaks to Heart” prayer. In the introduction Henri stated, “I simply prayed as I wrote and wrote as I prayed.” I tried that for myself. I just started as Henri did, Dear Lord Jesus and began “My heart is….” and let whatever was in my heart travel down my arm and through my pen to the paper. I didn’t worry about sentence structure or the like, but just let the words flow. In addressing my letter to Jesus, from whom nothing is hidden, I was free to write the truth of what I was really feeling. It was an unmasking of myself. I only wrote for about 10 minutes, but it was a step toward the “simple, trusting ‘yes’” to Jesus of which Henri wrote.

    • kathy w salem says:

      I have used this type of writing for years each morning during my prayer time. Writing directly to Jesus in the awesomeness of the context of the Trinity~ my Creator, my Savior, my Sanctifier ~ All seem seem so accessable. Gratitude flows easily and I Know what really matters. There is an intimacy that allows clarity and focus. All is well. I loved Henri’s letter and will reread it again now to help me refocus and Rest. Thank you all. ~Kathy

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Christine,
      Thank you for your sharing and to Kathy for her wonderful response. I, too, was touched by Henri’s statement, ““I simply prayed as I wrote and wrote as I prayed.” Writing is something that is important to me, yet I don’t make the commitment and invest the time to write about important things or to write to the most important person in my life.

      Your suggestion is a reminder of something that I have felt called to do and have avoided, perhaps because I am to “busy” (or filled). Or because I’m afraid that if Jesus really knew me he wouldn’t like me. Of course, that is a lie – as Henri has taught us repeatedly in his many books, “We are the beloved.” The challenge is to TRUST in Jesus and to be open to the love he wants to shower on us in our brokenness.

      As I noted in an earlier post, reading is also something that is important to me. And for some reason I find time to read many books “about” my Christian faith, however, I do not make the time to read and ponder the Scripture that is at that the foundation of the faith. This is another reminder that I have received from many of you on this shared Lenten journey.

      Thanks to all.

      Ray
      Twitter: @RayGlennon

  25. Lata Hall says:

    It is good to read your personal spiritual journeys as I journey with you. They give me strength, courage and many times as I read them again and again fill me with Peace. This Lenten journey is gift to my husband and me in a different way. He is a silent partner in this journey, in the sense, I tell him what my friends on line have been writing and he is always anxious to hear what more any one of you has written. He has read the books.
    With all the scripture written above, I will be repeating so much and also, I have to tell you my beloved, I never had any access to bible till I was 25+, as I grew up in India where after the first 10 yrs. or so all Churches were closed. I have always been a singer, so my prayer life has been singing Hymns and spiritual songs which I learnt from the Nuns in my School before British left India. So I can only tell you the Hymns which were my prayer life and as much I read the bible and listen to the daily Mass from St. Basil’s Church in Toronto before I have breakfast, I find I can not remember the scripture like my other Christian Friends, apart from a few lines here and there
    ‘For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son.’
    As long as I remember this much, I will always know that I am His beloved daughter and He will neither leave me nor forsake me.

    I love the three prayers of Henri Nouwen in this book. So much so that I have been reading the first prayer every day as I reflect on my day to see where I got lost today and then I ask for forgiveness from my Jesus and Heavenly Father. Henri’s prayer has become my prayer to reflect on my day. Being so HUMAN, I know at times seek other people’s praise and want to run of and get too busy that I have little time that day to pray, But I know, ’ My Redeemer Liveth.’ I will cry at my sinfulness at times. When very tired I can get angry, but I do hope and I know how many times ‘More than 70 times 7,’ the Lord has gently reminded me and brought me back in His Fold. Yes, our Jesus loves us all equally and holds us in the Palms of His Hands. Thanks be to God! May our Lenten journey together help us all to grow together as you are all so kind and loving gentle people always willing to help even when you write. Thank you Brynn for all your spiritual support and love for all of us. You are His Beloved Daughter!
    Lata

    • Dottie L. says:

      Thank you for sharing, Lata. You speak for where I am tonight…tired and irritable, after a challenging day. Your reflection is the first time I ever thought of applying the 7o times 7 to the amount of times Jesus has forgiven me. I always applied it to my having to forgive others… it’s a comfort to know I am on the receiving end of God’s generosity and love.
      Note to everyone: I count this blog and all of you as signs of God’s generosity. How fortunate I am to have found this group where everyone shares their light and truth.

      • Gina Oliva says:

        And I am happy Lata, that even though you grew up in a place where “the state” tried to keep you from God, He still found you and you responded. I say Praise God for that!!

  26. Bruce and Barbara says:

    Till now I had not thought of a simple ‘yes’ as part of the putting on the full armour, but in the context of Brynn’s second invitation, it makes perfect sense as the first piece to put on. Affirmation of God’s love is a terrific daily practice for lent and beyond.
    Bruce

  27. Perpetua says:

    “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD … He is like a tree planted beside the waters.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

    I am who I am in the eyes of God— nothing more and nothing less.

  28. Kathleen says:

    I am bombarded by activity. I don’t think I look for it; trying to get away from an intimate relationship with Jesus, but that inevitably happens. His love is so great; mine so taken up with lesser things. Things that may be important to Him. But things that are secondary to His desire for me to be near Him, to meditate on His word. And when I am drawing closer, the nagging doubts that can be dispelled in moments with God’s word, but they’re always lurking.
    Thank you, Jesus, for your immense love and patience. Thank you for taking me on this journey. Help me in this season of Lent to honor you as you have me.

  29. Donna says:

    Nouwen’s Scripture from Matthew speaks of learning from Christ – The Message Bible translation uses this phrase which I have truly loved for some time: “learn the unforced rhythms of grace”. Christ loves us and desires that we love with the “unforced rhythms of grace”. For me, I strive to love like Christ and desire my song of sharing His grace to find those “unforced rhythms”.

    I also like the Scripture: Lamentations 3:22 – “Because of the LORD’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.”

  30. Doris says:

    Close the door on the screaming, raging world. Don’t let the world pull you away from Jesus. Terrific thought….there are many things that would pull us away from Jesus if we allowed it but when our distractions come from worries and negative thoughts it is time to sit down and talk to Jesus. I think taking time even if short in contemplative prayer will see us through those moments that are negative. Jesus wants us to give our complete self given to Him – the self life that says “I want, I need, I will” should not be our vocabulary it should Lord Jesus you are the centre of my life – take my life and use it . This one thing makes a difference in our life with Christ. He is our all in all things.

    • kathy w salem says:

      Needed your lines~“I want, I need, I will”
      The roll I’m on right this minute is all about me and so needed to plug back into what really is True for me. Thanks to EACH OF YOU for sharing~ reading ALL your posts right now ~3:00 AM in England~ will, I pray, bring me back to Rest in my God and not my small self and all my crazy wants and needs.
      I will now attempt to “Close the door on the screaming, raging world” and Rest in all that is True and Good and matters. Thank you.

  31. Claire G says:

    “Be still, and know that I am God.” “You did not choose me; no, I chose you”. The first tells me that to say “yes” to God, I must first spend moments of stillness with my Beloved so that God can communicate to me what it is I need to say “yes” to. The second reminds me that “yes” is all I have to say. I am chosen to live in God’s presence , to have God within me. Yes, Lord! Help me to always say “yes”!

  32. Maggie from Wisconsin says:

    Thanks Sharon and pieces of others thoughts have been helpful!

    I have been reading what has been written, in such of support… my experience is so different…

    When I tried to visualize Jesus holding and washing my feet I felt tense, on-guard and a strange sensation that he was working his way up my leg came over me… STOP!, and I pulled away. It is not about being good enough but about me being able to trust. I can’t!

    I am a incest victim, which I thought I had dealt with years ago, however this Lent, working these questions these past weeks has me returning. A new awareness of being “used” and not validated has surfaced. The “other” one was only being kind, loving, so he could get what he wanted. I can’t trust nor can I trust myself to know and have safe boundaries.

    I recently heard of a group on retreat being sent into nature, find an object and sit with it… Wow in it… love it… see its beauty… respect it… validate it… be grateful for it and its gift. When it is time to leave, replace it, leaving it behind. You do not take it, or use it in any way for your pleasure…. Does that make sense? It makes sense to me and I believe I need to do this several times to experience a joy that comes from receiving and validating another as gift.… It is not about meeting my needs or earning anything.

    I am wondering if the reason I keep busy, I can’t sit with the LORD. My mind is always going, am I running from this old nightmare… I can’t imagine ever being seen as a treasure … or the gift I was born to be.

    I like Sharon’s thoughts …” about how He (God) wants to cleanse and heal those areas for me. I allowed Him to touch those areas, to gently care.. and I could see His face smiling as I received His touch, His care, His love to give me peace and release from those things that keep me from experiencing His full love and joy. His face smiled with delight as I received His love and care …as if He were saying, “Yes, I got this, it’s all good. You can trust in me. I want to do this for you.” What a beautiful loving Savior we have! I was able to release more as I recognized His desire to love me as I needed to be loved. He knows us so intimately and I am so grateful.”

    Yes! …I long to receive His smiling face and loving, caring touch… Lord into your arms I surrender my soul… I can’t do this alone…

    • Donna says:

      Maggie – How painful! Reading your open heart’s words, I hear not only your suffering but your vulnerabiliy in being able to share this. You wrote: “I can’t trust nor can I trust myself to know and have safe boundaries.” TRUST is a huge thing in every relationship, for without it there is not much of a relationship. Consider this: Even though you struggle with trusting others because of the past, and maybe even struggle with trusting yourself to create safe boundaries, GOD is always faithful, trustworthy, and loyal. Jesus suffered much, although not the same wounds as you, but He experienced the same emotions and responses to betrayal. Continue to develop your trust in a Sovereign God – grow this dependable, safe relationship to begin healing the wounds. After all, Scripture tells us, “We are healed by His wounds.” I pray you will feel God’s love and goodness pour over you. With God, you are never alone.

    • Sharon says:

      Maggie – thank you for sharing your pains and hurts. It is difficult to face the areas of our lives that have caused us pain. And sometimes we do not even know what to say or how to express our array of emotions.

      When I was grieving over the loss of my mother at age 45 who died when I was 2, I did not understand my pain and did not feel like I was allowed to feel sad. It took me awhile to be able to recognize that God could care for me and to accept that I was worth caring for. I would sit and rest with Him and just be with Him. Henri’s words express it well…

      “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”

      And from today’s meditation Henri expresses Solitude, silence, and prayer are often the best ways to self-knowledge.  Not because they offer solutions for the complexity of our lives but because they bring us in touch with our sacred center, where God dwells.  That sacred center may not be analysed.  It is the place of adoration, thanksgiving, and praise.

      I still can get in that place, but …when I remember to breath in His peace. “Let the peace of Christ rule in my heart.” ( I go to that verse often!) meditating on it, I can find that I often can rest and receive from Him a little easier.

      I appreciated your experience with looking at nature and seeing God in it. That was true for me in healing. I took up photography during the time of my change and grieving, and I would take photos of nature. Surprisingly I found that I would take many photos of flowers, especially buds, and even found that I was attracted to water on photos of plants leaves and flowers. It was in those photos that I connected with God. The buds representing my growing and the water representing my tears of grief and relief…or His for me! My husband made a photo book out of the photos and titled it “Like seeing for the first time”. Those where my words when I would look at the photos afterwards. I had not had the ability to notice the small details that God did before me each day. But He spoke to me through His nature and the photos and drew closer to Him. I did not know that I was “blind” like Henri mentions. Through photography God opened my eyes to His goodness and touched my heart with His heart.

      He knows us better than anyone else. He is loving us all the time and acquainted with our pain. I pray that you have a tangible experience with God’s love for you. “Perfect loves casts out all fear.” This was another verse that came to my mind this week. His love is the perfect love for me and for my situation available at every moment.

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Maggie,
      Your expression of pain is palpable in your words and you have my deepest sympathy. I will pray for your complete healing. As I re-read your post, it sounded to me that you might be saying, “Because of what happened to me, (sometimes) I can’t sit with the Lord.” Of course, that is a lie. And even if you at times have have difficulty sitting with the Lord, the Lord is already and always sitting with you. And you said you can’t do this alone.

      My experience was very different but very painful. After many years in an unloving marriage where I became extremely isolated, “Our urge to be set free from this isolation can become so strong it burst forth in violence. Then our need for an intimate relationship–for a friend, a lover, or an appreciative community–turns into a desperate grabbing for anyone who offers some immediate satisfaction…(and) degenerates into a dangerous aggression that causes much harm and only intensifies our feelings of loneliness.” (Making All Things New, p. 34). During this time more than a decade ago, I was blessed to be referred to a Christian counseling center where I worked with a counselor that was able, over a period of several years, to help me to grow past many things I carried from my childhood into my marriage and to use this harmful and painful experience to help me to grow as a person and in my love of the Lord and in my understanding and acceptance of the Lord’s love for me.

      As a result of that experience, I have become a strong advocate of the value of counseling in a Christian setting and, if you have not already done so, I would strongly encourage you to seek out a Christian professional that can address the painful experience in your past in a way that can further your healing, to help you to trust and to trust yourself to have safe boundaries, and open your heart to accept the love that the Lord is already pouring out on you.

      And, to complete my story, several years later I met the love of my life, my wife Dawn, and we are building a Christ-centered marriage together.

      May God bless you today and always.

      Peace and all good.

      Ray

  33. Melissa says:

    “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”. How deeply I can relate to this one. Sometimes God’s choices for our lives are so difficult. Most often they involve a form of dying to something. The wheat which dies not die and fall to the ground bears no fruit. We must die to ourselves gain and again and again and this is so very difficult to do, yet without it we cannot bear fruit. Trust is the key. Once we have expereinced this act of dying to something we love, want or feel like we need, when we surrender to God’s desirs for us, though we die, yet shall we live. This used to be only theory to me until I lived it. Saying that simple “yes” becomes easier over time when we see that God is trustworthy and the fruit that grows from yielding our lives to Him. Though very painful indeed, this is a lesson I would not trade. It is one which has made all the difference.

  34. kathy w salem says:

    “I can’t do this alone…” Dearest Maggie, I don’t believe any of us can or need to do this alone. I am in awe of your courage and your faithful commitment. Thank you for trusting us as you put your pain into God’s loving care. Peace and Love, Kathy~

  35. Nicola says:

    This week has been a busy one so I’m slow to respond here. For me the verse that makes my heart sing is ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10). To me this verse tells me that we are not supposed to be anxious and depressed. I know several people who struggle with depression and this verse reminds us that life to the full is promised us. I don’t think this is just about life in heaven, either. I think we are meant to live life to the full here and now, bringing the joy of the Gospel to others that we meet along the road. Having said that it is hard at times when there are people I want to help and they are not responsive. I think this chapter has reminded me that the one who can really meet them is Jesus and that I have to be content to watch and wait and pray for them.

  36. Amy says:

    Thank you, Linda and others, for sharing precious scriptures. I read the bible daily yet I find it so helpful for others to shares scriptures. It’s sort of like when you see someone who has been successful at weight loss, you often ask what worked for them :)
    It’s always so exciting to see what scriptures help others.

  37. Sharon K. Hall says:

    “You prepare a banquet before me in front of my enemies.” 23rd Psalm. I always figure the enemies are the ones around me who would tear down my confidence in trying to follow Jesus and the enemy inner voice within me that also echoes the negativity to be able to follow Jesus. Already the “Heart Speaks to Heart” book is so interesting as Henri Nouwen writes about how he came to write the book. His friend suggested he write on the Sacred Heart and several times he responded that he didn’t feel called to do it. She kept asking him if he had forgotten. Finally he got to a place where he started thinking about writing such a book and obtained all these other books to read about the Sacred Heart but instead the Holy Spirit moved him to simply write from his own heart and finally he responded in his own way to what his friend had originally asked of him. Personally, I find this an amazing story because (1) he was able to say “no” to his friend’s request and (2) at the nearing right time he was trying to find a way to say “yes” and (3) at exactly the right time in his life he said “yes” but clearly in his very own way and (4) his writing then has a powerful impact on everyone who reads it. One of my major problems is coping with being able to say “no” to people when I know inside myself that something is not right for me at the time of the request and feeling all tired and frustrated and not really trusting that other people will accept lovingly my own discernment because it is in conflict with their desires and discernment. Imagining Jesus washing my feet and cleansing me from the inner and outer conflicts that keep me from energy and freedom in following Him and His call on my life.

  38. Jan greene says:

    We are drawn to such love and strive to keep it before us on a daily basis. I think Henri was pushed forward in this book like God often urges us beyond our capacities. Sometimes when I feel something is not possible, I find new strength in Christ who offered all to us. And, if I stumble ( so often), Henri reminds us gently that Christ forgives and cushions a fall with his love for us. It feels good to feel close to the heart of Christ in this season.

  39. Lata Hall says:

    Dearest Maggie: I read last evening your entry and it simply pierced my heart, I cried a lot. All ABUSE is bad, but child incest is the ultimate. It is something I am very familiar with as I come from India where many female children have been abused and I have known many and walked with many and I still have a friend who can now claim that Jesus can wash her feet. That is after many years journey together. Your pain will always be unique as you are unique yourself.

    I belong to the international Order of St. Luke. This is an Interdenominational Christian and world wide organization. Members meet to pray with the person in need in a small team and depending on the need, a small group will get together to pray for the person in need and do soaking prayer. There are many Chapters in the US. You only need to go the website for the Order of St. Luke. I have been a member for 30 years and have a local prayer group. Long time ago, we had one female come to us and asked us to pray for Inner healing and she was prayed for and anointed by the priest. Before leaving she said to me will you pray for me till we see each other again and the group agreed to put her on our daily prayer list to pray for in our personal prayer time. It took us about 6 months. It is very hard to believe even that there could be a God when such a thing happens. YOU ARE ONE COURAGEOUS human being to say it aloud; our friend told us after 6 months what had happened to her. To be honest with you she started going to church after she had been prayed for in our group. Any one can ask for prayers, your human effort has to be that you are up to going to the meeting and go and ask the group to pray over you. You can even say, please do not touch me just stand around me or even leave a little space for me to leave if I feel overwhelmed.
    When I read your entry, I cried and cried and wanted to find a way to come to you and ask you to come and stay with me and just allow me to pray with you every day, till you will feel loved and this pain is gone. Trust me it will go, if you will have loving people to pray with you. My husband and I will pray for you every day although we are very far away from you. Prayer will come to you in warm breeze of the Spring. We live in Halifax Nova Scotia. Halifax is a small city compared to most US cities. We have two Chapters here and there will be many in Wisconsin. If I can help in any other way, please let me know. Let us not walk alone; we are our brother and sister’s keeper. Henri Nouwen had people who journeyed with him when he was having a very difficult time in his life. Dearest sister let me wash your feet. Let there be Peace with in you, around you and over you. Lata

  40. Carol says:

    Hi Everyone! I have been reading the book this week, and enjoy reading your posts. I am a bit confused as to the reading schedule and wonder if I have the correct book edition. My book is only about 65 pages long, and I am having trouble finding all the topics listed in the Lenten reading schedule. Any suggestions?
    God Bless, Carol

    • Brynn Lawrence says:

      Hi Carol,

      We are reading through two different books, which might be the cause of your confusion. One books is “Making All Things New” and the other one “Heart Speaks to Heart.” Both are fairly small, so I hope you can get the one you are missing.

      Let me know if you have any other questions,

      Brynn

  41. Carol says:

    Brynn,
    Thank you! For some reason I thought it was just one book or the other and that there was another site for “Making All Things New.” I only got “Heart Speaks to Heart.” I think for now I will just continue with what I have.
    Carol

  42. Nadja Croft says:

    I believe that to accept this vital and exceptional love is the most crucial thing we can do as humans and as Christians. I believe it affects everything. I was so blessed to have a wonderful mother and grandmother who were the first “representatives” of this unconditional and vital love. These incredible women were responsible for my lifelong relationship with an eternal and loving God! There is nothing more important!

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