I sat out on the back porch tonight re-reading Brennan Manning's "Ragamuffin Gospel". I'm still convinced you two are swapping The Best of The Cup back and forth wherever you are right now.
It was a sticky hot day today, the air heavy with smoke from forest firest. The sun burned through the haze but managed only to flicker a hot pink ball for all the effort. All the heat was trapped between heaven and earth. Still it was most pleasant sitting out during the evening, turning pages and listening to the neighbor children scream foul language at each other (and then threaten one another with the Kids' Catch All Threat: "I'm telling on you!"). Of course, all of a sudden NO kid had sworn his or her mouth off at all. Then the blame game began.
Manning has some beautiful and poignant images to share, some of which might be actually making a dent in my hard heart. But in one area I can't connect: he was married. As far as I know, you weren't.
Now I know loneliness attacks all humans from every direction. I know marriage isn't the cure-all for loneliness. And I know that intimacy can be found in the strangest of places. This knowledge rests in my head and in my heart, believing that there really is no differentiation between the two but exist more as a single whole. In clearer terms: my heart is questioning this knowledge as much as my head.
How did you survive long periods of loneliness?
Where did you find love?
How did it become manifest? Tangible? Initimate?
Sometimes I think people get this notion that people called to celibacy are somehow filled with a special endowment of divine love.
How wrong they are.
Can we be?
Certainly. As much as a married person could be… or a sibling with dear ties to a brother or sister… as a parent or child.
How was love nurtured in you when the world lusted for sex, and the church idolized marriage?
I'm finding comfort in your entry:
"Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply.
You might be afraid of the pain that deep love can cause. When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love ever more fruitful. It is like a plow that breaks the ground to allow the seed to take root and grow into a strong plant. Every time you experience the pain of rejection, absence, or death, you are faced with a choice. You can become bitter and decide not to love again, or you can stand straight in your pain and let the soil on which you stand become richer and more able to give life to new seeds.
The more you have loved and have allowed yourself to suffer because of your love, the more you will be able to let your heart grow wider and deeper. When your love is truly giving and receiving, those whom you love will not leave your heart even when they depart from you. They will become part of your self and thus gradually build a community within you.
Those you have deeply loved become part of you. The longer you live, there will always be more people to be loved by you and to become part of your inner community. The wider your inner community becomes, the more easily you will recognize your own brothers and sisters in the strangers around you. Those who are alive within you will recognize those who are alive around you. The wider the community of your heart, the wider the community around you. Thus the pain of rejection, absence, and death can become fruitful. Yes, as you love deeply the ground of your heart will be broken more and more, but you will rejoice in the abundance of the fruit it will bear." (Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love)"
Y'know, sometimes you scare me, Henri Nouwen.
Sometimes you scare me.
Until next time,