I'm a bit late again, I'm afraid. We're almost halfway through the year and I think I'm losing some mojo here writing these letters. It's not you. It's me. Even when I refuse New Year's Resolutions and call them by other names, it seems I lose steam right about now. Big time disconnect.
How has your life or writing actually filtered into my own weak brain and settled? How has my spirit been nurtured? I'm not sure if any huge 'AHA!' moments have happened or if I've taken any sharp left turns thanks to you. Presently I'm writing these letters out of stubborn will to finish the year. Maybe all relationships go through stuff like this. Don't take offence, but you seem more like a wise but distant uncle right now, rather than an intimate teacher.
But like I said: it's not you. It's me.
Onward to something more pressing.
The closer we get to Coming Home's first pilot project, the more I realize I don't have what these kids need. In fact, I need it more than they do (maybe?). How ironic that I would see the need 'out there', only to discover it to be a festering need 'in here'.
“For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life—pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures—and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.
Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not “How am I to find God?” but “How am I to let myself be found by him?” The question is not “How am I to know God?” but “How am I to let myself be known by God?” And, finally, the question is not “How am I to love God?” but “How am I to let myself be loved by God?” God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.” (Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming)
Just how AM I supposed to allow myself to be loved by God?
If I'm the Beloved, my Lover is nuts. I'm looking up from my computer screen, looking left… looking right… yup. No Lover in sight. Aren't Lovers, by definition, supposed to be a little more invested?
Feelings are fleeting.
Logic is cold.
Sigh… I'm compartmentalizing, aren't I?
But really, Henri, where is our Lover? Where did he go? (she?)
I'm sifting through wisdom of the ages, finding gems about how to help girls pray… connect… share… open up… worship… question… and connect some more.
Will these things really break chains?
Yeah, yeah, yeah… not of themselves. Of course not! But when this Divine Lover calls us into communion… where is this Lover again? Tell me. Who am I missing?
Maybe it's not such a weird thing that the very longing I have for these kids — finding sanctuary in God and community — is the very same gnawing longing in my own gut. Maybe not. But I need to know that I'm not setting these kids out on false paths… more paths to nowhere.
Sometimes I think I'm on a path to nowhere. More prayer. More meditation. More Scripture reading. More outreach. More… BLAH! More anything. Yet our Lover-Boy remains in absentia. How could I do such an awful thing as to invite kids into community with God and each other when God forgets to show up? Do you know what some of these kids have lived through? Abuse… neglect… learning delays… exploitation… addictions… all of that on top of regular teenage angst. These kids are tried and true survivors, and yet are some of the most broken people on the planet.
Am I to lead them on a path to nowhere?
Maybe I'm over-identifying. Maybe I'm magnifying my own insecurity of abandonment and rejection (by Lover-God), believing that all the kids will see this journey the same way. Maybe I'm just plain scared. I don't want any of them to feel rejected, alone or abandoned (again). But right now I feel abandoned by the Being who calls me 'Beloved'.
Well… maybe I'm drinking at the well these kids have been forced to drink at all of their lives. I can't live what they've lived, but I can sure taste a bit of what it's like to need community so badly and not being able to find it.
Until next time, Henri,