|Green Lake, Wisconsin|
In teaching spiritual formation to others I sometimes feel as if I am mostly repeating the wisdom of Henri Nouwen. I have been so greatly and positively influenced by him. I know him only through his writings and audio teachings. I once had a question for him, so I wrote him He responded back immediately. That is how, it seems, Henri was with everyone.
One Nouwen-truth that forms a neural pathway in my physical brain is: there is a ministry of presence, and a ministry of absence. There is a time to be with people, and a time to be apart from people. This ties in to Nouwen's idea that, in our connectedness to Jesus, God wants to free us from the illusion of our indispensibility. We are not so needed by others as we think we are. Because what people really need is God, and not us.
Nouwen writes: "The careful balance between silence and words, withdrawal and involvement, distance and closeness, solitude and community forms the basis of the spiritual life and should therefore be the subject of our most personal attention." (Nouwen, Out of Solitude)
How shall we personally attend to this? The answer is: by living under the influence of the Spirit of God. Paul tells us to "be influenced (filled) by the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18).
Live an in-spired life. In-spirit-ation brings discernment. We gain wisdom and understanding. We know what to do and what not to do, when to speak and when to be quiet, when to be with and when to be apart.
Spirit-influenced wisdom brings discernment, which requires trust and brings freedom from any unhealthy attachment to things and people we may have.