Reading: The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom
“Enter the New Country” to “Follow Your Deepest Calling” (pages 21 to 44)
Enter the new country, where your beloved dwells. . . . This requires
the death of what has become so precious to you: influence,
success, yes, even affection and praise. (p. 21)
The spiritual task is not to escape your loneliness. . . You might find that your loneliness is linked to your call to live completely for God. (p. 36)
In everything, keep trusting that God is with you, that God
has given you companions on the journey. Keep
returning to the road to freedom. (p. 39)
What an incredible First Week of Lent! You have freely offered such deeply personal, vulnerable, and insightful reflections and responses to Henri’s spiritual imperatives. We are strengthening our Lenten community through your supportive comments and feedback to each other. It is my great privilege and a genuine blessing to join you on this journey. Based on just this first week of discussion, I’m confident that Henri would agree “I did the right thing” (p. xix) when he made his spiritual imperatives available to all.
In the quotations above, I have selected three of Henri’s ideas from this week’s readings. Henri knows he is called to enter the “new country” but to do so has a cost. If he is willing to pay the price, he will meet his beloved and experience the reality that, like Jesus, he too is the beloved—and so are we. Yet even in the new country, Henri (and each of us) will still experience loneliness at times. Our challenge is to live that loneliness well. And how do we do that? By living completely for God and continuing our journey on the road to freedom. We walk with the companions (or community) that God has given us and we trust that God is with us every step of the way. These ideas spoke to me. What are Henri’s words saying to you this week?
Given the rich and fruitful discussion last week we will use the same approach again. You are encouraged to read and to reflect on the this weeks’ spiritual imperatives and share whatever touches your heart, issues arise, or insights you gain in the readings. This group is here to listen, encourage and support each other. Once again, here is a possible process.
- Briefly look over the thirteen imperatives assigned to this week (pages 22 through 41), either by simply reading the title or by lightly skimming the text. Don’t feel you need to closely read them all. Remember Henri’s advice on p xxi…too much salt can spoil a meal!
- Select a few (perhaps 3 or 4) imperatives that stand out to you, and read them thoroughly, perhaps several times.
- The thought or concept that stands out to you
- How does it relates to your personal experience? Look at your experience with the benefit of Henri’s insight. Does that help you to see things differently or to know yourself better?
- What is God speaking to your heart in this imperative? Has God touched your heart in other ways about this thought or concept (e.g., Scripture, spiritual reading, through another person)?
- How you will respond? Carefully (prayerfully) consider how your heart responds to the insights gained during your reflection. Are there small steps you can take to incorporate these insights and to move toward spiritual freedom in your life? Perhaps you would like to write your own Spiritual Imperative.
- Please share with the group to the extent you are comfortable. You might consider sharing on a single imperative per comment. If you have a second or third imperative that was meaningful to you, submit separate comments for each. As always you are invited to continue building our community by responding to what others have shared.
Of course, the above is only a suggestion. We are interested in learning whatever touched your heart during your reading and reflection. Your comments are the lifeblood of the Henri Nouwen Society book discussions and a gift to all who participate, both people actively posting comments and people reflecting in the silence of their hearts.
May we have a blessed and fruitful discussion during this Second Week of Lent.
Peace and all good.