Saturday, October 18, 2008

Oregon memories and Nouwen

It's a beautiful Portland morning and I find myself sitting in a sunshine filled window of a bustling neighborhood coffee house. Feeling the warmth of the sunshine's rays, I look out on the changing leaves, the train chugging by and the line of Montessori kids holding hands down the sidewalk. As if this moment couldn't be any more perfect, right beside me is a man playing lovely music on his acoustic guitar and providing the most peaceful soundtrack to this Oregon memory...

Also, of note, I was reading some Nouwen this morning and read this little pearl, which is what I needed to hear today.

"It can be discouraging to discover how quickly you lose your inner peace. Someone who happens to enter your life can suddenly create restlessness and anxiety in you. Sometimes this feeling is there before you fully realize it. You thought you were centered; you thought you could trust yourself; you thought you could stay with God. But then someone you do not even know intimately makes you feel insecure. You ask yourself whether you are loved or not, and that stranger becomes the criterion. Thus, you start feeling disillusioned by your own reaction.

Don't whip yourself for your lack of spiritual progress. If you do, you will easily be pulled even further away from your center. You will damage yourself and make it more difficult to come home again. It is obviously good not to act on your sudden emotions. But you don't have to repress them, either. You can acknowledge them and let them pass by. In a certain sense, you have to befriend them so that you do not become their victim.

The way to "victory" is not in trying to overcome your dispiriting emotions directly but in building a deeper sense of safety and at-homeness and a more incarnate knowledge that you are deeply loved. Then, little by little, you will stop giving so much power to strangers.

Do not be discouraged. Be sure that God will truly fulfill all your needs. Keep remembering that. It will help you not to expect that fulfillment from people who you already know are incapable of giving it."

1 comment:

Christina said...

There is so much to grab onto in that piece from Nouwen. Thanks for sharing it.