Friday, August 28, 2009

Facing the Challenges: Reflections on Henri Nouwen's Words

Henri Nouwen, esteemed thinker, priest, previous professor at Harvard, and--eventually--member of a community for handicapped persons--explored his own inner life and the workings of the world in profound ways. One of his books, Reaching Out, houses reflections about moving from fear towards love.

In Chapter 4 of this volume, Nouwen writes, "Our preoccupations help us to maintain the personal world we have created over the years and block the way to revolutionary change. Our fears, uncertainties and hostilities make us fill our inner world with ideas, opinions, judgments and values to which we cling as to a precious property. Instead of facing the challenges of new worlds opening themselves for us, and struggling in the open field, we hide behind the walls of our concerns holding on to the familiar life items we have collected in the past" (Nouwen, 1986, Doubleday).

How true.

Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties I experience--and many others I know--is the notion of sustaining or presenting an openness. Far too often, we build our lives with large rocks, and once they are in place, we rehearse their formation continually so that we will will memorize their placements and never have to worry about moving them. In other words: we become tied down by our outdated opinions and beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world. I like Nouwen's thoughts, here, because they advocate for "facing the challenges of new worlds opening themselves for us" rather than remaining where we are.

Though painfully difficult to leave the shore, so to speak, it is the way in which I want to seek to live.

1 comment:

  1. Luke, Nice post. I just saw the movie Blind Side tonight and the football player depicted spoke about that type of courage in his interpretation of a poem.

    Came across your site, reading a testimonial from the Gordon Education website.

    Cheers, Sam Sennott