12 February 2009

Erected Walls

"Listen, O Lord, to my prayers. Listen to my desire to be with you, to dwell in your house, and to let my whole being be filled with your presence. But none of this is possible without you. When you are not the one who fills me, I am soon filled with endless thoughts and concerns that divide me and tear me away from you. Even thoughts about you, good spiritual thoughts, can be little more than distractions when you are not their author.

O Lord, thinking about you, being fascinated with theological ideas and discussions, being excited about histories of Christian spirituality and stimulated by thoughts and ideas about prayer and meditation, all of this can be as much an expression of greed as the unruly desire for food, possessions, or power.

Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray, only you can set my heart at rest, only you can let me dwell in your presence. No book, no idea, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments become the way to you.

But Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative; let me wait patiently and attentively for that hour when you will come and break through all the walls I have erected. Teach me, O Lord, to pray. Amen."

- Henry J. M. Nouwen

10 February 2009

Stuck on a Treadmill

4 February

I ran on a treadmill earlier today, but I still feel like I’m on one: Running, but not going anywhere. Tomorrow begins four months of routine. I will be learning about theology, the Bible, God, and religion. I will be teaching students about theology, the Bible, God, and religion. It seems that my whole life has become devoted to the study of theology, the Bible, God, and religion.

Treadmills are so funny to me. The reading device tells you that you have run two miles, when in reality you haven’t even left the workout room. It tells you that you have gone somewhere, when you yourself know that you haven’t budged.

I get good grades, my teachers praise me for my intellect and writings, my boss compliments me on my teaching skills. It would seem as if I were getting somewhere. All of these appear to be indicators that I am maturing, growing smarter and wiser. Despite all of these indicators, glaring at me in red, digital type, I know I’m not moving.

Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not getting anywhere. I’m not quite sure where I should be going.