Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Living In the Presence of God Is the Greater Call

Climbing a dune at Warren Dunes State Park, Michigan
When Henri Nouwen met Mother Teresa he asked for advice concerning his spiritual distractions and temptations. Nouwen described his "unique complications" and gave "elaborate explanations" of the trials of his life. After listening to him Mother Teresa responded: "Well, when you spend one hour a day adoring your Lord and never do anything which you know to be wrong you will be fine!"

This answer startled Nouwen. He had expected her to diagnose him. Instead, she pointed him into God's presence. Nouwen writes:

"She knew that even if I better understood my distractions and problems, something else remained: a call to live closer to the heart of God. At first her answer didn’t seem to fit my questions, but then I began to see that her answer came from God’s place of healing and not from the place of my complaints. Getting answers to my questions is not the goal of the spiritual life. Living in the presence of God is the greater call. The gift of discernment is the ability to hear and see from God’s perspective and to offer that wisdom from above to others. Truly, God spoke to me through the mouth of Mother Teresa. She called me back to the discipline of prayer and being in God’s presence, which is the starting and ending place out of which guidance emerges." (Nouwen, Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, p. 67)