Daily Riches: The Restless Self Loves Its Illusions (Henri Nouwen)

“While teaching, lecturing, and writing about the importance of solitude, inner freedom, and peace of mind, I kept stumbling over my own compulsions and illusions. What was driving me from one book to another, one place to another, one project to another? …What was turning my vocation to be a witness to God’s love into a tiring job? These questions kept intruding themselves into my few unfilled moments and challenging me to face my restless self. Maybe I spoke more about God than with him. Maybe my writing about prayer kept me from a prayerful life. Maybe I was more concerned about the praise of men and women than the love of God. Maybe I was slowly becoming a prisoner of people’s expectations instead of a man liberated by divine promises. …I had succeeded in surrounding myself with so many classes to prepare, lectures to give, articles to finish, people to meet, phone calls to make, and letters to answer, that I had come quite close to believing that I was indispensable. …While complaining about too many demands, I felt uneasy when none were made. While speaking about the burden of letter writing, an empty mailbox made me sad. While fretting about tiring lecture tours, I felt disappointed when there were no invitations. While speaking nostalgically about an empty desk, I feared the day on which that would come true. In short: while desiring to be alone, I was frightened of being left alone. The more I became aware of these paradoxes, the more I started to see how much I had indeed fallen in love with my own compulsions and illusions, and how much I needed to step back and wonder, ‘Is there a quiet stream underneath the fluctuating affirmations and rejections of my little world?’” Henri Nouwen

“[Jesus] appointed twelve
that they might be with him….”
Mark 3:14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Has being a Christian or a minister become a “tiring job” for you?
  • Is your doing for God anchored in your being with God?
  • What were some of Nouwen’s illusions? his motivations? What are some of yours?
  • Is there a still point that anchors your life? What is that?

Abba, may I be a person liberated by divine promises, then useful to you and others.

For More:  The Genesee Diary by Henri Nouwen


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”


Daily Riches: Present to Reality, Present to God (Pema Chödrön and Gerald May) *

“We don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. but what we find … is that nothing ever goes way until it has taught us what we need to know. if we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. it just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.”  Pema Chödrön

“…we are blinded by our attachments, we are so preoccupied–our attention is so kidnapped by our compulsions–that we tune out the background of God’s love.  …We want to notice divine love, but we ignore it like we ignore our own breathing, in favor of the things that have captured us.” Gerald May

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship … and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”  Jonah 1:1-3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What is there in your present reality that you wish “would go away fast?” Are you attempting to run from it like Jonah did?
  • Are you waiting for some unpleasant, persistent reality in your life to “go away”, while God is waiting for you to learn from it “what you need to know?”
  • Can you embrace the anxiety and submit to the waiting, the frustration – even the pain, as God’s gift to you?
  • Could you have become so desensitized to God’s steady, always present love that you’re unaware of it?

Abba, I know you’re at work in my daily reality and that your love for me is active and constant, but I’m often impatient and oblivious. Teach me to be aware or what you’re doing in and for me, and all around me.


For More: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön


Thanks for reading and sharing Daily Riches!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)