Friday, 16 January 2009

More Uncomfortable Nouwen: Creating a Free and Fearless Place for the Unexpected Visitor

Further to my last post on the move from "easy support system to risky surrender" in prayer. More Nouwen, from The Wounded Healer this time via A Guide to Prayer.
Hospitality is the virtue which allows us to break through the narrowness of our own fears and to open our houses to the stranger…Hospitality makes anxious disciples into powerful witnesses, makes suspicious owners into generous givers, and makes closed-minded sectarians into interested recipients of new ideas and insights.

What does hospitality as a healing power require? It requires first of all that the host feel at home in his own house, and secondly that he create a free and fearless place for the unexpected visitor.
Anxious Disciples

Risky surrender, indeed. I've got the first part down. I do feel very much at home in my own house, but my introverted self wants to use my home as a hiding place. I find it very difficult to open it up to strangers.

Congregations in their anxious discipleship and suspicious ownership can have a hard time opening their church buildings to be free and fearless places for the unexpected visitor.

An Invitation from Jesus

I think Jesus was speaking about how to create that "free and fearless place" in today's passage when he said:
Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Mt 11.28-30 ESV)
If his yoke isn't easy for me, I must have made it that way. If is burden is feels heavy, I must have made it, too, that way by, among other things, my anxious discipleship and suspicious ownership.

Lord, have mercy.