Sunday, June 15, 2008

Reflection on Fr. Nouwen: Through the Darkness...

Small Steps of Love

How can we choose love when we have experienced so little of it? We choose love by taking small steps of love every time there is an opportunity. A smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, an embrace, a kind greeting, a gesture of support, a moment of attention, a helping hand, a present, a financial contribution, a visit ... all these are little steps toward love. Each step is like a candle burning in the night. It does not take the darkness away, but it guides us through the darkness. When we look back after many small steps of love, we will discover that we have made a long and beautiful journey.

-Fr. Henri Nouwen

Each step is like a candle burning in the night. It does not take the darkness away, but it guides us through the darkness.


These words of Fr. Nouwen's take me back to January....It's January 3rd, and I'm taking steps. I'm working to put my house on the market. I'm leaning into my future. I'm working to be anchored and okay in the present. I'm looking at the larger picture and questions guiding my life, "How do I create well? How might I love well? What is sustainable? " I'm identifying my call to write and partner and parent and build relationships across culture, gap, divide, oceans. I'm looking at how I might lovingly step toward solvency and create a sustainable space where relationship and art might flourish. I'm recognizing my deepest passions to love and inspire transformation of society through my own small ways of tending to people. I'm mapping my daily "To -Do's" in transforming 1188 Juno's three levels, toward a simplified whole. I'm trying not to be overwhelmed by the uncertainty of all of at these dreams, of all at stake.

A dear friend of mine from South Africa underscored words of a Fr. Nouwen prayer at that time: inviting me to work in small windows, be okay with just enough light to illuminate the next step.

And six months later, I'm recalling this. I'm reflecting on how silly we are to try and see so far, to cast ourselves into the future, and cling to certain outcomes, our human visions and versions of the "perfect life." We are called to dream - YES! - but we are called simultaneously to surrender, and trust deeply that Love holds us through it all.

It's June. And my house hasn't sold. And my graduate school Writing program has been deferred. And I'm not where I thought I was "supposed" to be. But I am happy. And I am working. And relationship-building abounds. And I am writing. And love is here. Holding it all. And it feels so true for me that indeed a tiny light has been guiding me through darkness, and all of these small steps are carrying me forward in this larger journey of love.


My prayer and reflection for you all today is that you, too, know about small lights and windows and tiny steps. May you feel held and guided and trust that all you are doing is enough!



Sr. Jill Underdahl said...

Thank you, Melissa.
You teach me so what it means to be faithful!

Jill Underdahl, CSJ
Celeste's Dream: Spirituality Center for Young Adults

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul Province
1884 Randolph Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105

Sr. Rafael Tilton said...

Most important -- keep writing!

Peace and All Good,
Sr. Rafael