Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blessed among women...

The most simple spiritual discipline is some degree of solitude and silence. But it's the hardest, because none of us want to be with someone we don't love.  Besides that, we invariably feel bored with ourselves, and all our loneliness comes to the surface.

We won't have the courage to go into that terrifying place without Love to protect us and lead us, without the light and love of God overriding our own self doubt.  Such silence is the most spacious and empowering technique in the world, yet it's not a technique at all. It's precisely the refusal of all technique.

Richard Rohr, adapted from Radical Grace p. 106

Hiddenness is an essential quality of the spiritual life. Solitude, silence, ordinary tasks, being with people without great agendas, sleeping, eating, working, playing ... all of that without being different from others, that is the life that Jesus lived and the life he asks us to live. It is in hiddenness that we, like Jesus, can increase "in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people" (Luke 2:51). It is in hiddenness that we can find a true intimacy with God and a true love for people.

Even during his active ministry, Jesus continued to return to hidden places to be alone with God. If we don't have a hidden life with God, our public life for God cannot bear fruit...

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

Sometimes we forget, especially we Anglicans, just how extraordinary a model of the contemplative life Mary is. So much of her life was lived in hiddenness - in the Gospels we only see brief, illuminated glimpses, as it were, of 30-odd years of life, during which, "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19) No wonder she is known, in the words of Elizabeth, as "blessed among women"! (Luke 1:42)

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