While on retreat last week, one of my sources for reflection was Henri Nouwen’s Our Second Birth: Christian Reflections on Death and New Life. The book is drawn largely from Nouwen’s Sabbatical Journey, his journal from a year sabbatical he took in 1995, a year before his death.
There was much in the book that caught my attention, but one of the things that affected me most deeply were a couple of very simple questions:
Why should I ever think or say something that is not love? Why should I ever hold a grudge, feel hatred or jealousy, act suspiciously? Why not always give and forgive, encourage and empower, give thanks and offer praise? Why not!
Perhaps what so affected me so deeply is that once the question is put that way, the answer seems so obvious. Why not indeed! God is love. God always loves. (Nouwen has another line in Our Second Birth that describes God’s covenant with us as: I will be faithful to you even when you are unfaithful to me.) If my desire is to conform more and more to God, why ever do or say anything that is not love?
I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that being mindful of that question itself is a key to overcoming some of the things that lead us to think, act or speak unlovingly.