Reflections inspired by Nouwen’s Here and Now.

Surprised by Joy
Am I open to being surprised by joy? Am I so bogged down by the unalterable past and the unpredictable future that I am blind and deaf to joy in the present? I would miss out on all the beauty that God is trying to show me! Only if I live in the here and now can I be constantly surprised by joy!

How do I trust? Trust does not question. It does not doubt. It believes. But I am accustomed to making judgments based on what I know and what I can reason. Trust requires that I realize and acknowledge that there is a plane beyond the reach of my reason and the limits of my understanding.

I have to trust without first understanding. I have to accept that ‘the best’ that I am hoping for lies beyond my reason or imagination. Trust means ceasing to apply reason where it makes no contribution.

Trust is not only a choice, but a state of being. When I live in trust, I stop doubting. I stop worrying. I stop wondering. When I trust, I will come to understand that it is only when I already trust that I give myself an opportunity to receive the fruits of that trust.

Choice & Acceptance
There is always a time-lag between making a choice by will, and accepting my own choice in my heart. I begin by understanding with reason what I ought to do. I choose it with my will. Yet, until my heart begins to accept the choice I have willed, I am still in turmoil and pain.

This process is not instantaneous. I realize now that it was never meant to be instantaneous. What must occur between the choice and true acceptance? Learning to be still inwardly; to let the churning waters become clear again so I can see. Learning to hope without expectations or conditions. Learning to be at peace with paradoxes. That as much as it goes against my instincts and desires, the best I can do is sometimes not to do anything at all. This realization gives way to a deeper understanding that there is action in inaction. There is music in silence. I am not helpless, restrained or impotent. No. There is great power and love in the stillness, but I need to know how to harness it.

The Hub of Life
I must return to the hub of life. By hub I refer to the hub of a wagon wheel…the center that connects all the spokes. The further away from the hub I am, the harder I must work to touch each spoke. And at any one time, I can only cling on to one spoke after another. But when I am at the hub, I am in touch with all the spokes of my life.

“To pray is to move to the center of all life and all love. The closer I come to the hub of life, the closer I come to all that receives its strengths and energy from there. My tendency is to get so distracted by the diversity of the many spokes of life, that I am busy but not truly life-giving, all over the place but not focused. By directing my attention to the heart of life, I am connected with its rich variety while remaining centered.

What does the hub represent? I think of it as my own heart, the heart of God, and the heart of the world. When I pray, I enter into the depth of my own heart and find there the heart of God, who speaks to me of love. And I recognize, right here, the place where all my of my sisters and brothers are in communion with one another. The great paradox of spiritual life is, indeed, that the most personal is the most universal, and the most intimate, is most communal, and that the most contemplative is most active.

The wagon wheel shows that the hub is the center of all energy and movement, even when it often seems not to be moving at all. In God all action and all rest are one. So too prayer!” – H. Nouwen, “Here and Now”

That’s the process I’m trying to undertake now…returning to the Hub of my life. Only then can I fully experience all that life has to offer me and only then can I truly give all that I have to life. This will not detract from anything I already have or have given, but open me to giving and receiving in even greater abundance while remaining centered and rooted in the source of all Love.

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