Lent Day 13 (3-4-15)
Creating Space for God
Discipline is the other side of discipleship. Discipleship without discipline is like waiting to run in the marathon without ever practicing. Discipline without discipleship is like always practicing for the marathon but never participating. It is important, however, to realize that discipline in the spiritual life is not the same as discipline in sports. Discipline in sports is the concentrated effort to master the body so that it can obey the mind better. Discipline in the spiritual life is the concentrated effort to create the space and time where God can become our master and where we can respond freely to God’s guidance.
Thus, discipline is the creation of boundaries that keep time and space open for God. Solitude requires discipline, worship requires discipline, caring for others requires discipline. They all ask us to set apart a time and a place where God’s gracious presence can be acknowledged and responded to.
– Henri J. M. Nouwen
Lent Day 12 (3-3-15)
There is much emphasis on notoriety and fame in our society. Our newspapers and television keep giving us the message: What counts is to be known, praised, and admired, whether you are a writer, an actor, a musician, or a politician.
Still, real greatness is often hidden, humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It is not easy to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. We must have strong self-confidence combined with deep humility. Some of the greatest works of art and the most important works of peace were created by people who had no need for the limelight. They knew that what they were doing was their call, and they did it with great patience, perseverance, and love.
- Henri J. M. Nouwen
Lent Day 11
Tell Your Story
No matter who you are, no matter how eloquent or otherwise, if you tell your own story with sufficient candor and concreteness, it will be an interesting story and in some sense a universal story…. We are so used to hearing what we want to hear and remaining deaf to what it would be well for us to hear that it is hard to break the habit. But if we keep our hearts and minds open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize, beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear God, God is indeed speaking to us.
Source: Now and Then
Lent Day 10 (remember we don’t count tomorrow, Sundays)
Letting Go of Our Fear of God
We are afraid of emptiness. Spinoza speaks about our “horror vacui,” our horrendous fear of vacancy. We like to occupy-fill up-every empty time and space. We want to be occupied. And if we are not occupied we easily become preoccupied; that is, we fill the empty spaces before we have even reached them. We fill them with our worries, saying, “But what if …”
It is very hard to allow emptiness to exist in our lives. Emptiness requires a willingness not to be in control, a willingness to let something new and unexpected happen. It requires trust, surrender, and openness to guidance. God wants to dwell in our emptiness. But as long as we are afraid of God and God’s actions in our lives, it is unlikely that we will offer our emptiness to God. Let’s pray that we can let go of our fear of God and embrace God as the source of all love.
- Henri J. M. Nouwen
Lent Day 8
No. It is not enough to despise the world.
It is not enough to live one’s life as though
Riches and power were nothings. They are not,
But to grasp the world, to grasp and feel it grow
Great in one’s grasp is likewise not enough.
The secret is to grasp it, and let it go.
Wang Wei (translated by Graeme Wilson)
“We need to unlearn a lot, it seems, to get back to that foundational life which is ‘hidden in God’ (Colossians 3:3). Yes, transformation is often more about unlearning than learning, which is why the religious traditions call it ‘repentance.'”
Richard Rohr, 21st century, in Falling Upward
What Is Most Personal Is Most Universal
We like to make a distinction between our private and public lives and say, “Whatever I do in my private life is nobody else’s business.” But anyone trying to live a spiritual life will soon discover that the most personal is the most universal, the most hidden is the most public, and the most solitary is the most communal. What we live in the most intimate places of our beings is not just for us but for all people. That is why our inner lives are lives for others. That is why our solitude is a gift to our community, and that is why our most secret thoughts affect our common life.
Jesus says, “No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15). The most inner light is a light for the world. Let’s not have “double lives”; let us allow what we live in private to be known in public.
- Henri J. M. Nouwen
Lent day 4
Like the Atmosphere
The presence of God is like the atmosphere we breathe. You can have all you want of it as long as you do not try to take possession of it and hang on to it. Nothing is more delightful than the divine presence. For that very reason we want to carve out a piece of it and hide it in the closet for safekeeping. But that is like trying to grasp a handful of air. As soon as your fingers close over it, it is gone. The presence of God does not respond to greed. It has a different dynamism. It is totally available, but on condition that we freely accept it and do not try to possess it.
Source: Finding Grace at the Center
Lent day 3
The Nonpossessive Life
To be able to enjoy fully the many good things the world has to offer, we must be detached from them. To be detached does not mean to be indifferent or uninterested. It means to be nonpossessive. Life is a gift to be grateful for and not a property to cling to.
A nonpossessive life is a free life. But such freedom is only possible when we have a deep sense of belonging. To whom then do we belong? We belong to God, and the God to whom we belong has sent us into the world to proclaim in his Name that all of creation is created in and by love and calls us to gratitude and joy. That is what the “detached” life is all about. It is a life in which we are free to offer praise and thanksgiving.
– Henri J. M. Nouwen
Lent: day 2
Becoming What We Worship
A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshiping we are becoming.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
An Invitation to Presence for Lent
Welcoming the Presence
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything
that comes to me in these moments
because I know it is for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, emotions,
persons, situations and conditions.
I let go of my demands for security.
I let go of my hunger for approval.
I let go of my insistence on control.
I let go of my blind desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and the healing action and grace within.
by Mary Mrozowski