Monday, August 13, 2012

The George Smileys of the spiritual life…

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.

Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey

It’s tempting to think of hiddenness as more dramatic than it is: heroic journeys to the depths of the wilderness, hermits whose very doors have been bricked up. And yet that isn’t really hiddenness—extreme eremitism brings its own fame.

Hiddenness, especially in today’s society, is much more likely to consist in being plain and unremarkable, George Smileys of the spiritual life…

I don’t find this easy. I’m as drawn as the next person to getting up to things that may show me in a favourable light, to getting involved with visible stuff to a point where I can no longer remain hidden. A lot of these things are good and useful in themselves, and yet they don’t seem to help with the life of prayer at all. I’ve explored these things before in this blog, yet I don’t seem any closer to an answer. Meanwhile, I still long to live like ivy, constant in the shadowed places…

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