Wednesday, August 24, 2016

wandering in the mystery of the cross...

One of the joys of this site is that it allows me space to give shape and form to tenderness.  I read a quote from Henri Nouwen yesterday that captured the soul of my personal and professional life.

"My whole life I have been surrounded by well-meaning encouragement to go 'higher up,' and the most-used argument was: 'You can do so much good there, for so many people.' But these voices calling me to upward mobility are completely absent from the Gospel. Jesus says: 'Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12:25). He also says: 'Unless you become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 18:3). Finally he says: "You know that among the gentiles the rulers lord it over them, and great men make their authority felt; among you this is not to happen. No, anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matt 20:25-28).This is the way of downward mobility, the descending way of Jesus. It is the way toward the poor, the suffering, the marginal, the prisoners, the refugees, the lonely, the hungry, the dying, the tortured, the homeless - toward all who ask for compassion. What do they have to offer? Not success, popularity, or power, but the joy and peace of the children of God."

Clearly I have been on a downward trajectory since melting down in Tucson and then rebuilding and revisioning my life and ministry. As Richard Rohr writes: we must fall upwards to find true life in the second half of this journey. Indeed, we must fall upwards at regular intervals if we are to grow into a gospel life shaped by humility and loving sacrifice. Nouwen once wrote of the "Paschal Mystery" - a theological touchstone for many Roman Catholics but a notion liberal, middle class Protestants have never seriously wrestled with. At its core is the foolishness of the Cross - and it is the Cross that has called me downward over the past 15 years. So much so that I really no longer have a calling to "serve" the church in any of the ways that are recognizable. Rather, now is a time for me to simply be, sharing love when I can and encouraging tenderness in all its manifestations.  This gets it as good as it can be got...

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