Wednesday, March 03, 2010

This reading from Henri Nouwen's Sabbatical Journey was part of the lenten service at our church tonight. Nowen took a sabbatical year to write and reflect, and Sabbatical Journey is the result. His unexpected death occurred shortly after the year was over.

"Whereas for a long time the Spirit acted so clearly through my flesh, now I feel nothing. I have lived with the expectation that prayer would become easier as I grow older and closer to death. But the opposite seems to be happening. The words “darkness” and “dryness” seem to best describe my prayer today.

Maybe part of this darkness and dryness is the result of my overactivity. As I grow older I become busier and spend less and less time in prayer. But I probably should not blame myself in that way. The real questions are, “What are the darkness and the dryness about? What do they call me to?”…

Are the darkness and dryness of my prayer signs of God’s absence, or are they signs of a presence deeper and wider than my senses can contain? Is the death of my prayer the end of my intimacy with God or the beginning of a new communion, beyond words, emotions, and bodily sensations?…

The year ahead of me must be a year of prayer, even though I say that my prayer is as dead as a rock. My prayer surely is, but not necessarily the Spirit’s prayer in me. Maybe the time has come to let go of “my” prayer, “my” effort to be close to God, “my” way of being in communion with the Divine, and to allow the Spirit of God to blow freely in me."
--Henri Nouwen

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