Greetings, everyone! Surely none of us could have imagined that we’d spend this Lenten season #alonetogether, as some have termed this period of forced separation. Our beloved Soup and Salvation has turned into cooking or ordering our own soup, eating it solo or with immediate family members. If we live alone, we can feel more isolated than ever. If in a nuclear family, we feel fear that one of us will transfer this awful illness to another. We wonder if this time will ever end, and if we dare to look ahead, the future can portend economic trials, more illness, more loss of the familiar. These can be anxious times. We are home, but we may not feel “at home”.
Henri Nouwen tells us in the very title of his book— Following Jesus: Find Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety— that we find true Home by following Jesus. Like the disciples centuries ago, we fear a world in which we feel adrift, alone, abandoned. Before His death, Jesus gives hints of his leaving, confusing and alarming his disciples. Like us, the disciples saw great fear in a world without the living Jesus.
What they could not understand, (it’s hard for us to understand now!) is what Jesus tells them and us today:
“It is good for you that I am going, because if I do not leave I cannot send my Spirit. When I leave, I will send you my Spirit and my Spirit will lead you.”
He will send his Spirit, his “pneuma”, the very breathing of God that will breathe in us and through us such that we, as His children, are brought into to the most intimate relationship imaginable with our Heavenly Father. God makes His home in us, and we find our true Home in Him. And we come to find that we are never away from Home.
Even more, it is this same Spirit that goes into the “scary” future ahead of us. Jesus promises, “The Spirit will tell you of things to come.”
For us, the future is often a source of anxiety and fear. We have all kinds of questions: What if my children get sick or I lose my job….Our fears pull us away from the present and extinguish the Spirit in us.
When we believe that God is with us always through the Spirit, we can let the future emerge out of the present. When we really believe that God is with us and that we are already now breathing his Spirit, we don’t have to worry about the future. We don’t have to worry about what might happen next. We can start trusting that if we fully live the life in the Spirit, the future will unfold from the present as we travel through life. (Nouwen)
The future, and all that it brings, will continue to unfold. But we have a God who lives already in our futures. So what to do? My friends, I think we can just breathe deeply. Breathe in and out of the Spirit that is of God. Perhaps make it a practice in these days where time seems stretched out, to spend half an hour just breathing and resting in the living presence of God. And remember that wherever you go and whatever might happen, you are already Home.
Now, #alonetogether, let’s say this prayer of Henri Nouwen’s:
Speak gently in my silence.
When the loud outer noises of my
surroundings and the loud inner noises of my
fears keep pulling me away from you, help me
to trust that you are still there even when I am
unable to hear you. Give me ears to listen to
your small, soft voice saying: “Come to me,
you who are overburdened, and I will give
you rest….for I am gentle and humble of
heart.” Let that loving voice be my guide.
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