Saturday, July 08, 2006

Wounded Healer revisited

Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not "How can we hide our wounds?" so we don't have to be embarrassed, but "How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?" When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.

Jesus is God's wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus' suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.

Henri Nouwen, Wounded Healer.

A classic from Nouwen's better known classics. And a timeless truth for all seasons. For when are we without wounds, and when is life without pain? Surely wounds and blessing go hand in hand, flowing into each other, ever intertwined. Greater highs, deeper lows. Making us better channels of love and blessing.

Monday, June 12, 2006

No doubt, no faith

Let no one hope to find in contemplation an escape from conflict, from anguish or from doubt. On the contrary, the deep, inexpressible certitude of the contemplative experience awakens a tragic anguish and opens many questions in the depths of the heart like wounds that cannot stop bleeding. For every gain in deep certitude there is a corresponding growth of superficial "doubt." This doubt is by no means opposed to genuine faith, but it mercilessly examines and questions the spurious "faith" of everyday life, the human faith which is nothing but the passive acceptance of conventional opinion.
Merton, Thomas. New Seeds of Contemplation. New Directions Publishing Co. 1961, p. 12-13.

It's amazing that impregnated in us is a quest for Truth that never rests. Even if it does, it does so only momentarily, till new conflict between what is and what we believe emerges. Either my belief is wrong or it is inadequate. Doubt fuels the growth of my belief, conflict opens up its boundaries and pain breaks through the floor of my conviction.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Like oil to fire

Both water and oil come from the earth. And though they are similar in many ways, they are opposites in their nature and their purpose.
One extinguishes fire, the other gives fuel to the fire. Similarly, the world and its treasures are creations of God along with the soul and its thirst for spiritual truth. But if we try to quench the thirst of our soul with the wealth and pride and honors of this world, then it is like trying to extinguish fire with oil. The soul will only find peace and contentment in the One who created it along with its longing. When we turn to the living Master, we receive water that satisfies our soul. This water is a well of spiritual life that springs up deep within us.
-- Sadhu Sundar Singh

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Too Big to Put Behind

Disappointment and loss are a part of every life. Many times we can put them behind us and get on with the rest of our lives. But not everything is amenable to this approach. Some things are too big or too deep to do this, and we will have to leave important parts of ourselves behind if we treat them in this way. These are the places where wisdom begins to grow in us.

It begins with suffering that we do not avoid or rationalize or put behind us. It starts with the realization that our loss, whatever it is, has become a part of us and has altered our lives so profoundly that we cannot go back to the way it was before.

The thing about the many strategies we use to shelter ourselves from feeling loss is that none of them leads to healing. Although denial, rationalization, substitution, avoidance, and the like may numb the pain of loss, every one of them hurts us in some far more fundamental ways.

None is respectful toward life or toward process. None acknowledges our capacity for finding meaning or wisdom.

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-- Rachel Naomi Remen

This affirms for me the truth that suffering, hunger, or need in any form is a gift from God. Like the deer that pants for streams of water, we are driven forward by need. It is by embracing our pain that we can begin to seek real answers and make deep changes within to embrace life and God in a greater way. What is too big to put behind is also too good an opportunity to pass on! - YY

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Paradox of Humanness

John Stott proposes the reason for the ongoing duality in us in his book,Essentials:

'It is part, I think, of the paradoxical nature of our humanness that we are both breath of God and dust of earth, godlike and bestial, created and fallen, noble and ignoble. That seems to be why we both seek God and run away from him, both practise righteousness and suppress the truth in our unrighteousness, both recognize the claims of the moral law upon us and refuse to submit to it, both erect altars in God's honour and need to repent of our ignorance and sin.

How often have I felt the desire to move forward towards God. To grow in the spirit and leave the things of the flesh and the world. But instead again and again I find myself, for a total lack of will, back in a rut of ambition, desire, jealousy and resentment. My powerlessness itself is proof of my need of a saving God.

The Word only A Means

"Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it
is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts."-- Tozer, A.W. The Pursuit Of God. Christian Publications, Harrisburg, PA.
1982. pp 34-35.

It's wonderful to hear someone like Tozer say this, reminding us how easily we slip into making the things ABOUT God substitute God Himself. In that way many of our churches, our prayers, our worship have become bereft of the reason they are there - to both increase and whet our longing for the Living God. It is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Once They Deny Themselves

'People who seek peace in things, places, people, and activities - or inworld-flight, poverty, and humiliation, whatever the avenue or degree - look in vain, for there is no peace this way. But once they deny themselves, then whatever they keep, be it wealth, honor, or anything else, they will still be free from it all.'-- Meister Eckhart

How much more of God I can have if I will only let go of things.. and how much less of things I will need if I have more of God...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Real action or reaction?

If you watch your life carefully you will discover quite soon that we hardly ever live from within outwards; instead we respond to incitement, to excitement. In other words, we live by reflection, by reaction. Something happens and we respond, someone speaks and we answer. But when we are left without anything that stimulates us to think, speak or act, we realize that there is very little in us that will prompt us to action in any direction at all. This is really a very dramatic discovery. We are completely empty, we do not act from within ourselves but accept as our life a life which is actually fed from the outside; we are used to things happening which compel us to do other things. How seldom can we live simply by means of the depth and the riches we assume that there is within ourselves." -- Bloom, Anthony. Beginning To Pray. Paulist Press, New York. 1970 pp.38-39.

I have nothing useful to say if I have not been silent. I have nothing to give if I have not first humbly received from above.