Sunday, June 14, 2009
I have been re-reading Henri Nouwen's Return of the Prodigal. I had forgotten how powerful the book is. At the centre of any book on the spiritual quest is Augustine's affirmation that our hearts are restless. This book evocatively connects that restlessness with the homely image that Jesus provides to us of paternal love, fraternal jealousy, the tremendous odium of comparison, youthful unfaithfulness and celebratory grace. Similarly, Marilyn Robinson's Home enfleshes the story of the prodigal son. Moreover, it takes the reader a step further into the mysterious union between the rejected and called; two that become one through the possibility of grace. Nouwen suggests a movement beyond being one of the children to taking up the mantle of the Father in the story. Robinson's story dwells on how the younger and the older need each other. How they might come to be reconciled to one another-- That the "accepted" might recognize their need to be embraced by the rejected, and that "the rejected" might accept the embrace of "the accepted." We are all accepted and we are all rejected. We are in most desperate need to experience the grace of God through others and through our grace for others.
Living in Christian community brings with it very pressing questions concerning how we might maintain a home for others. That I struggle again and again with the desire to make my home my habitus, my outer garment, the expression of me--my creativity, and zeal, and passion, and thereby reject the call to make this home, our home.
I want to make this home the habitus of God. A place of formation in the virtues of friendship and faithfulness and sharing. In short, to wear the shimmering garment that is God's graces.
The things that are getting in the way of living this vision are legion. I can scarcely begin to even address them now. I imagine that careful reflection on monastic literature would soon make it entirely and extraordinarily obvious how common the attitudes that undermine our community are in the life of past Christian communities. Certainly the sins of jealousy, and sloth, and anger, and greed are at the forefront. . .
I affirm, however, that right now, it is in this place that I am called to hear from God and to grow as God's child. That this means a more rigorous conflict with my own personal demons and obsessions seems obvious.