more nouwen

usually i just put up one quote, but in this case it is just all far too good. really, the whole chapter, or the full book--heck, why not just read everything nouwen's ever written? but this will do for starters.

from Reaching Out:

"When we feel lonely we have such a need to be liked and loved that we are hypersensititve to the many signals in our environment and easily become hostile toward anyone whom we perceive as rejecting us. But once we have found the center of our life in our own heart and have accepted our aloneness, not as a fate but as a vocation, we are able to offer freedom to others. Once we have given up our desire to be fully fulfilled, we can offer emptiness to others."

"Poverty of mind as a spiritual attitude is a growing willingness to recognize the incomprehensibility of the mystery of life. the more mature we become the more we will be able to give up our inclination to grasp, catch, and comprehend the fullness of life and the more we will be ready to let life enter into us."

"That is the poverty of the mind. It demands the continuing refusal to identify God with any concept, theory, document or event, thus preventing man or woman from becoming a fanatic sectarian or enthusiast, while allowing for an ongoing growth in gentleness and receptivity."

then about poverty of the heart: "God cannot be identified with a good affectionate feeling toward our neighbor, or with a sweet emotion of the heart, or with ecstasies, movements of the body or handling of snakes. God is not just our good inclinations, our fervor, our generosity or our love. All these experiences of the heart may remind us of God's presence, but their absence does not prove God's absence. God is not only greater than our mind, he is also greater than our heart, and just as we have to avoid the temptation of adapting God to our small concepts we also have to avoid adapting him to our small feelings...But when we are willing to detach ourselves from making our own limited experience the criterion for our approach to others, we may be able to see that life is greater than our life, history is greater than our history, experience greater than our experience and God greater than our God."

"To help, to serve, to care, to guide, to heal, these words were all used to express a reaching out toward our neighbor whereby we perceive life as a gift not to possess but to share."

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