becoming a child who is loved simply for being...
I am agog over the depth of insight offered in this short quote from the late Henri Nouwen:
The great temptation is to use our obvious failures and disappointments in our lives to convince ourselves that we are really not worth being loved. Because what do we have to show for ourselves? But for a person of faith the opposite is true. The many failures may open that place in us where we have nothing to brag about but everything to be loved for. It is becoming a child again, a child who is loved simply for being, simply for smiling, simply for reaching out.
I was thinking about this after today's midday Eucharist: our small gaggle of pilgrims gathers each week at 12 noon (or thereabouts) come snow, cold, rain or shine. And it feels like each of us, while very different, comes simply to be loved. We gather in the Chancel quietly while some music wraps itself around us for a few minutes. Then we open our eyes to one another and our hearts to God's love knowing that we need all of this love just like a child reaching out for assurance. We sing and spend 20 minutes in lectio divina (Psalm and Gospel) and there is always some hidden gift revealed during our conversation. It is profoundly moving to me the tender trust that has taken root during this time: no judgment, no critique, just reaching out and honoring the love.
And after an embrace of Christ's peace, we make a circle around the Communion Table and pray the new/old words of the Lord being broken to make us whole. We serve one another, pray for one another and sing ourselves back into our working day by 1 pm. Each of us comes with a hunger - and we keep coming back - because in ways greater than ourselves, this hunger is fed in us by God's presence. In another observation, Nouwen wrote:
Underneath all our emphasis on successful action, many of us suffer from a deep-seated, low self-esteem. And so our actions become more an expression of fear than of inner freedom. As we keep our eyes directed at the One who says, 'Do not be afraid,' we may slowly let go of our fear. We will learn to live in a world without zealously defended borders. We will be free to see the suffering of other people, free to respond not with defensiveness, but with compassion, with peace, with ourselves.
Most weeks I conclude that the most important things I do grow out of celebrating Eucharist with my friends in tenderness.