“We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have – for their usefulness.”
~ Thomas Merton
“Prayer is not primarily saying words and thinking thoughts. It is, rather, a stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence, living in awareness of the Presence, and even of enjoying the Presence. The full contemplative is not just aware of the Presence, but trusts, allows, and delights in it.”
~ Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs
This year I will delight and trust the present moment. Why would I want to try and control the show when it’s already so well written? Being present is simply living in Presence.
“God came to us because he wanted to join us on the road, to listen to our story, and to help us realize that we are not walking in circles but moving towards the house of peace and joy.
This is the great mystery of Christmas that continues to give us comfort and consolation: we are not alone on our journey. The God of love who gave us life sent us his only Son to be with us at all times and in all places, so that we never have to feel lost in our struggles but always can trust that he walks with us….
Christmas is the renewed invitation not to be afraid and let him–whose love is greater than our own hearts and minds can comprehend–be our companion.”
~ Henri Nouwen, from his book, Gracias! A Latin American Journal
“I have found it very important in my own life to try to let go of my wishes and instead to live in hope. I am finding that when I choose to let go of my sometimes petty and superficial wishes and trust that my life is precious and meaningful in the eyes of God something really new, something beyond my own expectations begins to happen for me.”
~ Henri J.M. Nouwen, Finding My Way Home
“Much of our ministry is pervaded with judgments. Often quite unconsciously we classify our people as very good, good, neutral, bad, and very bad. These judgments influence deeply the thoughts, words, and actions of our ministry. Before we know it, we fall into the trap of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Those whom we consider lazy, indifferent, hostile, or obnoxious we treat as such, forcing them in this way to live up to our own views. And so, much of our ministry is limited by the snares of our own judgments. These self created limits prevent us from being available to people and shrivel up our compassion.”
~ Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart
I might be reaching here but I’m going to offer up this thought anyway. The body is the church. Your heart and soul are the minister. Our thoughts and words are our “flock” in a sense. If we are to act as minister over our own flock and change and grow spiritually, we must tend to our flock. This means taking an honest look at the judgments we make and changing the thoughts and words that do not serve love and compassion. Prayer is how we communicate this change to God.
To me, this personal ministry is the way of the heart.
“Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form, without filters, judgments, and commentaries. Now you see why it is so rare and, in fact, “the narrow road that few walk on” (Matthew 7:14). The only way you can contemplate is by recognizing and relativizing your own compulsive mental grids—your practiced ways of judging, critiquing, blocking, and computing everything.
This is what we are trying to do by practicing contemplative prayer, and people addicted to their own mind will find contemplation most difficult, if not impossible. Much that is called thinking is simply the ego’s stating of what it prefers and likes—and resistances to what it does not like. Narcissistic reactions to the moment are not worthy of being called thinking. Yet that is much of our public and private discourse.
When your mental judgmental grid and all its commentaries are placed aside, God finally has a chance to get through to you, because your pettiness is at last out of the way. Then Truth stands revealed! You will begin to recognize that we all carry the Divine Indwelling within us and we all carry it equally. That will change your theology, your politics, and your entire worldview. In fact, it is the very birth of the soul.”
~ Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation 12.17.13