‘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.’
Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son
One of my favourite websites, that of Saint Matthew’s Anglican Church, Westminster – very near to the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral – often has some thought-provoking material preceding its weekly/monthly schedule of Services and parish activities. This quotation from Henri Nouwen’s book, ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’ today caught my eye.
Often, in our rush of daily activity, we can lose touch with our ‘Source of all being’ Who is God’s-Self – simply because we do not allow time and space for God to enter into our human consciousness. In our rush for ‘relevance’ in ministry and daily life, we can sometimes reach beyond our capacity for consonance with the grace and power of God that is the ground and source of our Christian vocation.
One very good reminder of our dependence upon God’s Presence with us lies in our devotional attention to the Sacrament of Christ within the sacred Elements of the Eucharist. This is the place – par excellence – where we can be refreshed and renewed with the sense of the Body of Christ – both spatially and metaphysically experienced – being God’s special gift to those who recognise the spiritual reality of what is actually taking place at the time.
An old hymn of the Church reminds me of this experience, precious in remembrance:
“O Love that will not let me go; I rest my weary soul in Thee.
I give Thee back the life I owe – that life may fuller, fairer, be”.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand