Nouwen: choosing life
“The most important question is not "Do I kill?" but "Do I carry a blessing in my heart or a curse?" The bullet that kills is only the final instrument of the hatred that began being nurtured in the heart long before the gun was picked up.” Henri Nouwen Daily Meditation, Choosing Life, Henri Nouwen Society, August 30, 2018, from Bread for the Journey HarperSanFrancisco 1997.
Nouwen reminds us that at the root of most of the factions and killings is a life or events where love left a person’s heart. Those involved in shootings often no longer feel or perceive love. Sometimes the love is present but because of mental illness they cannot perceive it. Sometimes living in a culture of violence takes that love away. Sometimes poverty may lead to a loveless life. There are so many factors. Our ministry in the outside world is where ever we are where ever we go to bring love to the people we encounter. This may not be easy, but we do not have a choice if we care about the world we leave for our children and grandchildren. How we treat, how we greet people on the street, at the grocery store, at the gas station, at the food pantry could prevent one act of violence by giving that person a hint that they are loved and valuable.
How do we keep love in our own hearts to share? There are a multitude of ways. We know that love is something that only multiplies if it is given away.
All of the spiritual exercises and disciplines have been developed over centuries by people trying to connect us to the God of love.
How do we keep the God of our understanding as the God of love rather than the angry or wrathful God that some have been led to believe in? My experience is when we stay grateful, when we live a life of gratitude, when we keep realizing what gifts we have been given and how we are cared for even in the most difficult times, love stays with us. For Christians it is the light of Christ living in our hearts.
It also helps to be around others who are sharing love, others where we can so easily see the love, the light of Christ in their hearts. Love is contagious.