Your Unique Presence – 6 quotes from Henri J. M. Nouwen’s book – The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom
by Mark Votava
1. The permanence of your love
“Your love, insofar as it is from God, is permanent. You can claim the permanence of your love as a gift from God. And you can give that permanent love to others. When others stop loving you, you do not have to stop loving them. On a human level, changes might be necessary, but on the level of the divine, you can remain faithful to your love.”
2. Trust the depth of God’s presence in you
“You must trust the depth of God’s presence in you and live from there. This is the way to keep moving toward full incarnation.”
3. Your unique presence in your community
“Your unique presence in your community is the way God wants you to be present to others. Different people have different ways of being present. You have to know and claim your way. That is why discernment is so important. Once you have an inner knowledge of your true vocation, you have a point of orientation. That will help you decide what to do and what to let go of, what to say and what to remain silent about, when to go out and when to stay home, who to be with and who to avoid.”
4. Do not keep waiting for a concrete response
“You keep looking for proof of friendship, but in doing so you harm yourself. When you give something to your friends, do not keep waiting for a concrete response, a thank-you. When you really believe that you are loved by God, you can allow your friends the freedom to respond to your love in their way. They have their own histories, their own characters, their own ways of receiving love. They may be slower, more hesitant, or more cautious than you. They may want to be with you in ways that are real and authentic for them but unusual for you. Trust that those who love you want to show you their love in a real way, even when their choice of time, place, and form are different from yours.”
5. There is a real pain in your heart
“There is a real pain in your heart, a pain that truly belongs to you. You know now that you cannot avoid, ignore, or repress it. It is this pain that reveals to you how you are called to live in solidarity with the broken human race.”
6. The full meaning of your pain
“Still, as long as you keep pointing to the specifics, you will miss the full meaning of your pain. You will deceive yourself into believing that if the people, circumstances, and events had been different, your pain would not exist. This might be partly true, but the deeper truth is that the situation which brought about your pain was simply the form in which you came in touch with the human condition of suffering. Your pain is the concrete way in which you participate in the pain of humanity.”
How have you participated in the pain of humanity?
My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!
“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism
My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!
“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline… without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.” Shane Claiborne, author and activist