During this time of vacation, in addition to some wandering around the beaches of the North Shore with Di and practicing my bass, I am reading two authors who have touched me deeply in the past: Jean Vanier and Henri Nouwen. In Vanier's Becoming Human I am finding a gentle and poignant primer concerning a mature spiritual life. Two quotes really speak to me:
+ The first has to do with prayer: We need space to re-read each day... we need time to listen to the inner voice of hope calling us back to the essentials of love, essentials we may have forgotten because of busyness and selfishness. To pray, then, is more about listening than about talking. To pray is to be centered in love,; it is to let what is deepest within us come to the surface. For me, it is all that and more. Prayer is also a meeting with the One who loves me, who reveals to me my secrete value, who empowers me to give life, who loves us all and calls us forth to greater love and compassion. Prayer is resting in the quiet and gentle presence of God.
As I have been discerning this summer, I am hungry for more quiet resting time in God's love. Vanier's words are both encouragement and affirmation that a part of my heart has been thirsty for this type of deep refreshment.
+ The other quote is about the paradox of loneliness. In his work with those who have been abandoned, discarded or abused Vanier has discovered an aching loneliness. His experience is that only when this ache has been healed can a person live into their potential and responsibility. He writes: Loneliness seems to be an essentially human experience. It is not just about being alone. Loneliness is not the same thing a solitude. We can be alone yet happy, because we know that we are part of a family, a community, even the universe itself. Loneliness, however, is a feeling of not being a part of anything, of being cut off. It is a feeling of being unworthy, of not being able to cope in the face of a universe that seems to work against us. Loneliness is a feeling of being guilty. Of what? Of existing? Of being judged? By whom? We do not know - but loneliness is a taste of death.
This speaks to me at the deepest levels of both my personal and professional lives... it also points towards the antidote: the healing of God's grace and life in community.
Today we're going to wander through Ipswich - a small North Shore town that was founded by Captain Bixby in 1630 - and Bixby is the family from whom Di's mother hails. We'll wind up by the beach at some point and close the day doing swing dancing by the river.
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