I Peter 3:15
“In our solitude, our history no longer can remain a random collection of disconnected incidents and accidents but has to become a constant call for the change of heart and mind. There we can break through the fatalistic chain of cause and effect and listen with our inner senses to the deeper meaning of the actualities of everyday life.”
In the last blog we talked about pure actions (acting with pure intent) rather than simple re-actions to the events that happen to and around us. This blog is really a continuation of that thought put into the context of owning our history.
There are historical events that have happened in the years I’ve been alive. The Vietnam War ended, the many riots and turmoil of the 70’s, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, Ronald Reagan’s presidency and his attempted assassination, the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia disasters, the Michael Jackson era, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, the Gulf War, the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s the short list. These events, along with many personal triumphs and pains have shaped me and connect me with the world around me. Nouwen refers to these as more than “unavoidable concomitants of our life.” In other words, they’re more than just random events that happened to happen during my life and the time I have shared with everyone else on this planet. Instead, Nouwen encourages us to view the events of our history as “urgent invitations to a response,” or “personal engagement.”
So what does all this mean? Well, I’ve noticed recently, in myself, a desire to withdraw and leave this crazy world behind. Watching the news brings out a passionate response in me. I get frustrated at many of the events happening around me and I feel powerless to stop those things that I find offensive in this world. I become discouraged about our country’s continual devaluing of life and lack of common sense in economics and politics in general. I see America moving in directions that will surely lead to its demise and it upsets me that I’m caught up in it and I can’t get out. I feel like I’m in a sinking ship and someone has locked me in my cabin so there is no hope of escape. I am still too much a part of this world.
Nouwen responds to these feelings differently. He says, “A real spiritual life . . . makes us so alert and aware of the world around us, that all that is and happens becomes part of our contemplation and meditation and invites us to a free and fearless response.”
In other words, this all boils down to an overwhelming calm in my spirit – from a solitude of heart – that allows me to look at what is happening in the world around me and respond through a calm alertness with solid spiritual roots. Heart-solitude prepares me to face the world.
Well that’s it, isn’t it? How many passages in the Bible talk about letting go of our worry and trusting God? How often are we encouraged to walk by faith, not by sight? I can’t speak for anyone else but I can speak for myself: I’m not always doing so well on this one.
It’s easier to give to the Lord the events I have control over. It’s much harder to give to the Lord the events I have no control over.
Lord, help me to trust You. Help me to seek You in solitude of heart so that I may be better prepared to face the world I live in.