LENT: Week six, Monday – Discipline
Are there any disciplines to keep us moving from dividing power to uniting power, from destructive power to healing power, from paralyzing power to enabling power? Let me suggest three disciplines that can help us look from above with the eyes of God:
- The first discipline is to focus continually on the poor in this world. We must keep asking ourselves: Where are the men, women and children who are waiting for us to reach out to them? Poverty in all its forms–physical, intellectual and emotional–is not decreasing. On the contrary, the poor are everywhere around us. As the powers of darkness show their hideous intentions with increasing crudeness, the weeping of the poor becomes louder and their misery more visible. We have to keep listening. We have to keep looking.
- The second discipline is to trust that God will truly care for the poor that are given to us. We will have the financial, emotional and physical support we need, when we need it, and to the degree that we need it. I am convinced that there is a large body of people ready to help with money, time and talent. But that body will remain invisible unless we dare to take new risks. If we want to have all our bases covered before we act, nothing exciting will happen. But if we dare to take a few crazy risks because God asks us to do so, many doors, which we didn’t even know existed, will be opened for us.
- The third discipline is the hardest one. It is the discipline of being surprised, not by suffering, but by joy…. There is suffering ahead of us, immense suffering, a suffering that will continue to tempt us to think that we have chosen the wrong road and that others were more shrewd than we. But don’t be surprised by pain. Be surprised by joy. Be surprised by the little flower that shows its beauty in the midst of a barren desert. And be surprised by the immense healing power that keeps bursting forth like a spring of fresh water from the depth of our pain.
With an eye focused on the poor, a heart trusting that we will get what we need, and a spirit always surprised by joy, we will be truly powerful. We will walk through this valley of darkness performing miracles because it is God’s power that will go out from us wherever we go and whomever we meet.
Henri Nouwen, Power, Powerlessness and Power