I have heard it said, "Every seven years we ask a new set of questions". I have found this to be so very true, in my own life and in the life of so many others. Look at what happens between the ages of 14 and 21. How the questions flow so quickly, and the answers appear so slowly. Henri Nowen encourages us, “to live the question, so we can live into the answer". For those who are in their 30’s, or have encountered that watershed year of 35, I do not have to tell you anything about life being turned upside down, and a great feeling of being lost takes over. Nothing has worked out the way you expected . All your plans have gone askew, you are not where you wanted to be. You are not in the place others expected you to be. You are not who you thought you would be at this time. The things of life are so up in the air, so uncertain. There seems to be no real order, only questions about the chaos. Even if the outside looks good, the insides are the very opposite. I now firmly believe, the better we show ourselves to be on the outside, the more messed up we are on the inside. What is worse, we will do everything in our power to defend , and protect the illusion. The illusion that is ours, our family, our parish, our church, our country, and our world. In each case, we pay a terrible price. Look at the cost, in human and monetary terms, the defense of sexual misconduct has wrecked on individuals, families, and church. There is that saying, which we have adopted from AA, " We are as sick, as our deepest secrets". How true that is. The opposite is honesty. Honesty is progressive. Thank The Good God for that. It is that fearsome gift, honesty, which will enable each one of us to journey from illusion, into who we are in the unconditioned love of our God. Yes, a fearsome journey, yet we can be assured that nothing will be revealed to us, that God and we, cannot take care of. Sometimes I have to remind our God , " you have more faith in me than I have in myself right now, so you may want to ease up, just a little". In some cases, I have to say, "a lot". That is an honest prayer, as it comes from the gut. Gut prayer always works. Why? We are being real, and Reality always responds to us in our deepest reality.
There is one person who, over the years, has enabled me to grow, very slowly I may add, into gut honesty, that person is Henri Nowen. So, at this stage, as I am dealing with a multiple of 7, it is time for me to reread again, “Reaching Out ". I first read this book in 2006. I have been reading it over the years. In the hard, difficult, and challenging times, it has been a daily read. Nowen writes, as nobody else does, about the sacrament of the human condition and all that entails. In all that is authentically human, God, The Divine Presence, is perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed. He is so honest about being a spiritual being enfleshed in the human condition. He is, for me, a prophet of hope. He is, for me, a great teacher. He has lead me, and continues to lead me, by the sharing of his faith journey, to embrace my faith journey, just as it is. A faith journey with it's valleys and mountaintops. A journey replete with times of hope and despair. A journey into great loneliness, and a deepening happiness. A faith journey with its times of great fear, leading to a deepening of faith. He has given me the permission, which I always sought, to be who I really am. Honesty, I have found, is the stepping stone leading to a freedom and a happiness beyond imagination.
In the foreword, he writes the following; "the quest for an authentic Christian spirituality is worth the effort and the pain, since in the midst of this quest we can find signs offering hope, courage, and confidence". Those signs are to be found in each and every life. These signs are there for you and I, to be found . WE are always being offered, what we need, not what we want. Sources of hope, courage, and confidence are our daily bread. This ‘daily bead’ is the GUARANTEE of a Loving, merciful and caring God. It is when we stop reacting to life, and begin to respond to what is our reality, we begin to see life as it really is. We all need that time, a time that must be claimed, which will enable us to slow down and allow our souls to catch up with us. In this place, a peace, a joy, a happiness is awaiting those with the courage to do so. Merton says, “it takes tremendous courage to be still”. It takes great force of will to say to oneself, and mean it, “I am a human being, NOT a human doer".
This Spiritual journey stuff is tough work. Thank God it is His doing and not ours. It is a life we fall deeper into, the more we fall down.!!!!!!