Friday, August 14, 2009

On not being visible and popular…

One of the reasons that hiddenness is such an important aspect of the spiritual life is that it keeps us focused on God. In hiddenness we do not receive human acclamation, admiration, support, or encouragement. In hiddenness we have to go to God with our sorrows and joys and trust that God will give us what we most need.

In our society we are inclined to avoid hiddenness. We want to be seen and acknowledged. We want to be useful to others and influence the course of events. But as we become visible and popular, we quickly grow dependent on people and their responses and easily lose touch with God, the true source of our being. Hiddenness is the place of purification. In hiddenness we find our true selves.

Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey

I think this is true for me. Somehow my deepest instincts lead me further in towards the hidden places, away from recognition or being “visible and popular”. It’s odd, because sometimes it seems almost churlish, ungrateful somehow. But God’s ways really aren’t our ways, and the Beatitudes (Matthew 5), for instance, are counterintuitive, shocking even, to our “normal” way of looking at things. Occasionally when I try to explain this attraction I have to hiddenness I’m met with blank incomprehension. How could I not want the world’s rewards? I don’t have a ready answer. I simply don’t know how to explain myself in those terms any more. I must appear entirely foolish!


  1. I'll always recall a bookmark I saw as a high schooler. It had the quote from Francis (my memory may distort the actual wording): For the Lord said to me He wished me to be a fool and simpleton the likes of which the world has never known.
    You walk in good company.

  2. I'm loving reading about your journey, bro.

    It made me laugh out loud in joy to read this: "Occasionally when I try to explain this attraction I have to hiddenness I’m met with blank incomprehension."