Friday, May 06, 2016

Who Are You?

Me, in my backyard

When I meet with a person for the first time I often ask them the question: Who are you? A person's answer to this question will shape how they live and experience life.

Using a via negativa Henri Nouwen tells us who you are not. Nouwen writes:

"I'm not what I do. I'm not what people say about me. I'm not what I have. Although there is nothing wrong with success, there is nothing wrong with popularity, there is nothing wrong with being powerful, finally my spiritual identity is not rooted in the world, the things the world gives me." (Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life, 67)

Who are you, essentially? Nouwen looks at the story of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan. Jesus heard the Father's affirmation, "You are my beloved on whom my favor rests." This was, believes Nouwen, "the core moment of Jesus' public life."

By connection (Jesus-followers are now "in him") you are God's beloved son or daughter. Your life is rooted in this. Nouwen counsels: "Whatever we do, we have to go back regularly to that place of core identity." (Ib.)