Nouwen says,”We are chosen (or taken), blessed and broken so as to be given. It is only as people who are given that we can fully understand our being chosen, blessed and broken. Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life … all of our life.”
What flower above do you most resemble when you are in fullest bloom? If you are wondering how God could instruct you in how to give your life, consider this lesson early in my walk as a Christian. When my kids were little I had very little time for anything but raising them, loving my husband and keeping the house on a very limited budget. I spoke on the phone once with a friend who was very ill with a cold or virus. Her house was overrun with teenagers and no one was paying much attention to her illness. Later in the day I was making orange juice. My husband had purchased a box of juice oranges from someone who was selling them at work as a band fundraiser. I sensed “Take her a glass of orange juice.” I thought well that was weird. Again I heard “Take her a glass of juice.” I thought “Really, Lord?” and sensed, “Yes.”
I had another errand to run so I put orange juice in a large glass with some cartoon character on it and took it to her house on my way out.You would have thought I brought her $1,000.00 (which in that day was a load of money)! She was so amazed that anyone cared about her health. I told her get well and was on my way. That was one of my first lessons in listening to the Holy Spirit and being blessed with the joy of obedience. What might the Lord be asking you to do today?
Nouwen says the first gift we can give is our life itself. “We tend to forget that our real gift is not so much what we can do, but who we are. Our gifts are the many ways in which we express our humanity. They are part of who we are: friendship, kindness, patience, joy, peace, forgiveness, gentleness, love, hope, trust and many others. These are the true gifts we have to offer to each other. I know now that we are called to give our very lives to one another and that, in so doing, we become a true community of love.
“Secondly, we are called to give ourselves, not only in life, but in death as well.The deaths of those whom we love and who love us, open up the possibility of a new, more radical communion, a new intimacy, a new belonging to each other. If love is, indeed, stronger than death, then death has the potential to deepen and strengthen the bonds of love. It was only after Jesus had left his disciples that they were able to grasp what he truly meant to them. But isn’t that true for all who die in love?
“Yes, there is such a thing as a good death. We ourselves are responsible for the way we die. We have to choose between clinging to life in such a way that death becomes nothing but a failure, or letting go of life in freedom so that we can be given to others as a source of hope.” He illustrates with examples of two friends he knew well towards the end of their lives and how they approached their own death. “Death does not have to be our final failure, our final defeat in the struggle of life, our unavoidable fate.”
“The death of the Beloved bears fruit in many lives. You and I have to trust that our short little lives can bear fruit far beyond the boundaries of our chronologies. As the Beloved Children of God, we are called to become bread for each other – bread for the world.
In his chapter entitled Living as the Beloved he writes: “As those who are chosen, blessed, broken and given, we are called to live our lives with a deep inner joy and peace.You can only truly enjoy the good things our world has to offer when you can acknowledge them as affirmations of the truth that you are the Beloved of God. That truth will set you free to receive the beauty of nature and culture in gratitude, as a sign of your Belovedness. That truth will allow you to receive the gifts you receive from your society and celebrate life. But that truth will also allow you to let go of what distracts you, confuses you and puts in jeopardy the life of the Spirit within you.
“The change of which I speak is the change from living life as a painful test to prove that you deserve to be loved, to living it as an unceasing “Yes” to the truth of the Belovedness.
Put simply, life is a God-given opportunity to become who we are, to affirm our own true spiritual nature, claim our truth, appropriate and integrate the reality of our being, but most of all, to say “Yes” to the One who calls us the Beloved.
From there on I basically wanted to underline the remainder of the chapter and the book. If you have never explored this small tome, please get it soon and be blessed to grow into who God would like you to become and the holy attitudes He would like you to adopt. It does not take long to read. It may take the rest of your life to learn to live it.
May God bless you mightily!