Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Solitude of heart...

I have been posting a lot lately on time spent in reading and reflection. I mentioned that it fed my soul. Today in my reading I came across this quote from Henri Nouwen. Eugene Peterson quotes it beautifully in a discussion on pastoral work and relationships.

"Without the solitude of heart, our relationships with others easily become needy and greedy, sticky and clinging, dependent and sentimental, exploitative and parasitic, because without the solitude of the heart we cannot experience the others as different from ourselves but only as people who can be used for the fulfillment of our own often hidden, needs."

-Henri Nouwen in Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life

He quotes this in a brief section on busyness. He writes in reference to pastors and states that "busyness is an illness of spirit." His point is that busy pastors miss out on opportunities to share life with the people - most importantly meaningful conversation and regular prayer. Moreover, busyness keeps us from being formed to be at a place where we can be used authentically for the gospel of Jesus.

I am continually reminded (maybe one of these days I will stop forgetting) that my heart must be formed by the power of the Spirit to be enabled to follow the call of Jesus on my life (in pastoral ministry or otherwise.) This forming/shaping/molding happens in time intentionally set apart - time in prayer and reflection, time in devotion, time in authentic relationship with others, time in worship, time in work, time in play.

The hardest part of this is being master of my own schedule. Of course there are two sides to this - the first is not allowing it to be dictated by others. The second side of this is the possibility going to far the other way where one becomes isolated and inaccessible in the name of "seeking wholeness." It's a matter of vigorously guarding the time set apart for those things that shape who we are and then sharing the rest of our time appropriately.

What is the thing that seems to be an obstacle to your formation?

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