Contributing rather than consuming.
Giving rather than grasping.
Living rather than sapping.
Free rather than bound.
This is so hard for us in our consumer world.
Henri Nouwen’s last few comments really focus these issues for me:
The society in which we live suggests in countless ways that the way to go is up. Making it to the top, entering the limelight, breaking the record – that’s what draws attention, gets us on the front page of the newspaper, and offers us the rewards of money and fame.
The way of Jesus is radically different. It is the way not of upward mobility but of downward mobility. It is going to the bottom, staying behind the sets, and choosing the last place! Why is the way of Jesus worth choosing? Because it is the way to the Kingdom, the way Jesus took, and the way that brings everlasting life.
We don’t need 99% of the stuff we accumulate. So Jesus chose not to have. And not to have to worry. A simpler lifestyle, a simpler life. Thus he could focus more time and energy on loving. We only need enough. Everything after that is a responsibility, or even a burden.
We see this, we understand it, but it’s so hard for us to do…
Courage is connected with taking risks.
Jumping the Grand Canyon on a motorbike, coming over Niagara Falls in a barrel, or crossing the ocean in a rowboat are called courageous acts because people risk their lives by doing these things. But none of these daredevil acts comes from the centre of our being. They all come from the desire to test our physical limits and to become famous and popular.
Spiritual courage is something completely different. It is following the deepest desires of our hearts at the risk of losing fame and popularity. It asks of us the willingness to lose our temporal lives in order to gain eternal life.
– Henri Nouwen