Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life (1)

I've read a lot of Nouwen's material - although I admit that the bulk being that of Nouwen quotes in other book. This year I have tried to read more Nouwen direct and I have to say that I have not been disappointed.

'Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life' in particular is a beautiful and challenging little book. Page after page of comforting yet disquieting insights as Nouwen leads us to become aware of 'different poles between which our lives vacillate and are held in tension'. Nouwen suggests that these poles can offer a context through which the spiritual life can be communicated and seen by anyone 'striving to live a life in the spirit of Jesus Christ'.
"The first polarity deals with our relationship to ourselves. It is the polarity between loneliness and solitude. The second polarity forms the basis of our relationship to others. This is the polarity between hostility and hospitality. The third , final and most important polarity structures our relationship with God. This is the polarity between illusion and prayer." (Nouwen 1998)
I don't want to forget the insights so I hope to summarise Nouwen's thoughts over the next few weeks.

1 comment:

Johnny said...

Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Nouwen's writing, Gordon:

I love this little piece:

“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets.

It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.”