Wednesday, 17 September 2014

One Day You Will Know How Much You Have Received

The last fews years have been hard. Sometime I might write about it all. But not now. Rather, I just want to share some lines from Henri Nouwen that have become, for me, rather special.

'A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom'; that's the subtitle of the small book of his in my hand. It's a collection of journal entries he wrote when his inner life was restless and bleak. I came across it first all of in the room our college had set aside as a 24/7 prayer station. During my slot (which I mostly spent sleeping, to my shame) I saw the book on a desk. The main title, 'The Inner Voice of Love', I cynically scoffed at. But upon seeing the subtitle, I knew this was something I needed to read.

Turning the pages, I had that sense of being spoken to which often accompanies us when sympathy, insight and hope strikes us suddenly and all together. That feeling of not just being understood but also, in a sense, guided along a path...

Even so, I forgot about the book not too long after my prayer slot ended and I left. I only remembered about it when it arrived in the post. A dear friend, out of the blue, had seen the book elsewhere and thought I'd find it helpful.

Well, here is the main section that is now underlined in my copy. I hope it may be of comfort to you too, if you need it. (Note, in reading, that the imperatives he gives were actually written to be directed at himself, no-one else, originally).


"Simply start by admitting that you cannot cure yourself. You have to say yes fully to your powerlessness in order to let God heal you. But it is not really a question of first and then. Your willingness to experience your powerlessness already includes the beginning of surrender to God's action in you. When you cannot sense anything of God's healing presence, the acknowledgement of your powerlessness is too frightening. It is like jumping from a high wire without a net to catch you.

Your willingness to let go of your desire to control your life reveals a certain trust. The more you relinquish your stubborn need to maintain power, the more you will get in touch with the One who has the power to heal and guide you. And the more you get in touch with that divine power, the easier it will be to confess to yourself and to others your basic powerlessness.

One way you keep holding on to an imaginary power is by expecting something from outside gratifications or future events. As long as you run from where you are and distract yourself, you cannot fully let yourself be healed. A seed only flourishes by staying in the ground in which it is sown. When you keep digging the seed up to check whether it is growing, it will never bear fruit. Think about yourself as a little seed planted in rich soil. All you have to do is stay there and trust that the soil contains everything you need to grow. This growth takes place even when you do not feel it. Be quiet, acknowledge your powerlessness, and have faith that one day you will know how much you have received." pp26-27

NOUWEN, H. J. M. (1996). The inner voice of love: a journey through anguish to freedom. New York, Doubleday.

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