“This afternoon I had a long talk with John Eudes (the abbot of the monastery). He was very open, personal, warm, and made it easy to talk freely. I talked mostly about my anger: my inclination to become angry and irritated with people, ideas, or events. …I realised that my anger created restlessness, brooding, inner disputes, and made prayer nearly impossible. But the most disturbing anger was the anger at myself for not responding properly, for not knowing how to express my disagreement, for external obedience while remaining rebellious from within, and for letting small and seemingly insignificant events have so much power over my emotional life. In summary: passive aggressive behaviour. We talked about this on many levels and in many ways. Most important for me at this point seem the following … suggestions:
- Allow your angry feelings to come to your awareness and have a careful look at them. Don’t deny or suppress them, but let them teach you.
- Do not hesitate to talk about angry feelings even when they are related to very small or seemingly insignificant issues. When you don’t deal with anger on small issues, how will you ever be ready to deal with it in a real crisis?
- Your anger can have good reasons. Talk to [someone] about it. …If [that person feels] that your anger is unrealistic or disproportionate, then [you and they] can have a closer look at what made you respond so strongly. …
- On a deeper level you might wonder how much of your anger has to do with ego inflation. Anger often reveals how you feel and think about yourself and how important you have made your own ideas and insight. When God becomes again the center and when you can put yourself with all your weaknesses in front of Him, you might be able to take some distance and allow your anger to ebb away and pray again.” Henri Nouwen
“Mockers can get a whole town agitated,
but the wise will calm anger.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Have you experienced how anger can neutralize prayer–and the reverse?
- Do you find that “small and seemingly insignificant events have so much power over your emotional life?”
- Can you “take a look” at your angry feelings and “let them teach you?” (e.g., “What does my response say about me?”)
- What is your anger telling you about “how you feel and think about yourself?” …about your sense of your own importance?
Abba, let me learn the hard lessons my anger wants to teach me.
For More: The Genesee Diary by Henri Nouwen
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill
“Perhaps the greatest and most hidden illusion of all had been that after seven months of Trappist life I would be a different person, more integrated, more spiritual, more virtuous, more compassionate, more gentle, more joyful, and more understanding. Somehow I had expected that my restlessness would turn into quietude, my tensions into a peaceful life-style, and my many ambiguities and ambivalences into a single-minded commitment to God. None of these successes, results, or achievements have come about. …It did not work, it did not solve my problems. And I know that a year, two years, or even a lifetime as a Trappist monk would not have ‘worked’ either. …I had known this all along, but still I had to return to my old busy life and be confronted with my own restless self to believe it. Those who welcomed me back expected to see a different, a better man. And I had not wanted to disappoint them. But I should have known better. Using the monastery to develop a ‘successful’ saintliness only makes me like the possessed man [whom Jesus described in Matthew 12.]* …These words of Jesus have often entered my mind when old and new demons entered my soul. I hardly had an opportunity to think that seven months as a Trappist monk had cleansed my heart enough to be pure for the year to come. It took only a few weeks of being back to realize that I was having some troublesome ‘visitors’ again. Without exaggeration I can say that some of my most humbling experiences took place after my return. But they had to take place to convince me once again that I cannot be my own exorcist, and to remind me that, if anything significant takes place in my life, it is not the result of my own ‘spiritual’ calisthenics, but only the manifestation of God’s unconditional grace. God himself certainly is the last one to be impressed by seven months of monastic life, and he did not wait long to let me know it.” Henri Nouwen
*“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none.
Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’
So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order.
Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself,
and they all enter the person and live there.”
Moving From Head to Heart
- Nouwen’s painful disillusionment is intense. Can you relate?
- What was the “illusion” he was dis-abused of?
- Could you be as honest as Nouwen about your struggles?
God, I am cast upon your grace.
For More: The Genesee Diary by Henri Nouwen
Thanks for following and sharing my blog! – Bill