I thoroughly enjoyed Henri Nouwen's Here and Now. I think that this text was particularly suited for our first reading. Setting up the idea that God wants us "here and now" in the present will help place the focus of what our mindsets should be going into this year. Living in the present is certainly difficult for me. I think it might be safe to say, judging by people's responses to some of my previous blogs, and my own assessment that I might have some perfectionist tendencies. I am constantly struggling with my past--specifically my shortcomings and failures. And I spend almost just as much time worrying about what the future holds and attempting to plan and map it out as best I can. What I seriously lack in my life is an emphasis on the present.
Nouwen's words are full of so much wisdom and I love how the chapters are so thorough and address so many of the angles of each topic. He doesn't just address suffering, he addresses all the kinds of suffering there are and our character through those situations and seasons. I feel as though this should be a book that should be read again in my life, perhaps in a few years or when I know that significant growth has taken place. The pages of my book are underlined and highlighted so much! There is just so much wisdom in there!
My favorite passage in the book is in the chapter about Joy.
"Yes, I know there is a sun, even though the skies are covered with clouds. While my friend always spoke about the sun, I kept speaking about the clouds, until one day I realized that it was the sun that allowed me to see the clouds. Those who keep speaking about the sun while walking under a cloudy sky are messengers of hope, the true saints of our day."
The way this is crafted is so beautiful and I love its message of hope. It hits you with this overwhelming conviction to glorify God in all things. Ultimately everything is from God--the good and the bad. Where is the value of your blessings if you never experience sorrow or pain or loss? I love the metaphor of the sun and the clouds. The clouds maybe covering the sun sometimes, but the sun is always there. And in that same way hope and opportunity for blessings are always there. In every situation look for God. I believe that God truly uses some of our greatest struggles to make us stronger and to ultimately bring us closer to Him. Bring everything to God and find a way to glorify Him. Always remember the sun is there. I find that to be a comforting thought.