Thursday, January 08, 2009

And now, a few words from Henri

Enough Light for the Next Step
Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, 'How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now?' There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let's rejoice in the little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all shadows away.

Living the Moment to the Fullest
Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not a waiting passivity until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later and somewhere else. Let's be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.

-Henri Nouwen
After reading these little snippets this week, I have to thank my lucky stars for Henri Nouwen. Especially in times like these where I feel overwhelmed with decisions and the temptation is there to be completely preoccupied with the past or with the future. Even if these readings remind me that I am probably the least patient person I know. I am so stinking impatient it is ridiculous. I am only now beginning to realize the deep affects of my impatience on almost every aspect of my life. I am notorious for not being able to wait in line-ups. I would throw full on fits as a kid in restaurants if the food wasn't delivered in 2 seconds. 20 odd years later and not much has changed. but it's not the surface impatience that is the's the sense in myself that I need to be in the perfect life condition now now now. I need to have some kind of comprehensive plan to fulfill all of my dreams and goals this second. I need to fix all of my weird personality quirks right away. It's only when I have completely burnt myself out by all of the self inflicted demands, that I realize that I'm doing the same thing I did in McDonald's when i was a screaming five year old and had to have that happy meal IMMEDIATELY, or else. So immature.

Sometimes I wish I were some kind of Zen master who knew how to be completely absorbed in the present. Either a Zen master or a three year old. There's got to be some kind of happy medium. Unfortunately I am one of those people Henri described - always trying to 'get away from' where I am.

Reminds me of a dream I had a dream about Henri Nouwen a couple of years ago at a particularly difficult time. He showed up in my kitchen and sat down. I remember in the dream being so relieved to see him and I remember asking him a question...something along the lines of "What should I do about this, Henri?" I remember he just looked at me smiled and shrugged his shoulders. Then I woke up.

So, this will be my mantra for the next couple of weeks until I'm out from under the haze:

Let's be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.



RTF said...

It's closer than the ground …

Good quotes.


hulia said...

hey Tom,
Missing the blog but loving the drawings.
Hope all is well,

Lisa said...

this post really hit the spot -- I've been grumpily demanding to know more about what is in store for me this year and God keeps smiling and shrugging.

hulia said...

hey Lisa...I'm so looking forward to seeing where you adventure to next (whenever the next step reveals itself)!! You are one of those people i like to live vicariously through.