Daily Riches: Chafing At Our Basic Neediness (Eugene Peterson)

“It is not unheard of for us to chafe at our neediness. Having to ask for help is an admission that we can’t do this on our own, that we are not in control. There is something in us … that would prefer never to have to ask for help. Consumerism is a narcotic that dulls the awareness that we are in need. By buying what we need, we assume control of our lives. We replace a sense of need with a sense of ownership, and our sense of neediness recedes. Technology is a narcotic. It depersonalizes needs to something that can be handled by a machine or a device. We replace a sense of need by the satisfaction of being in control: ‘I will manage my own needs, thank you.’ Money and machines anaesthetize neediness. They put us in charge, in control. As long as the money holds out and the machines are in good repair, we don’t have to pray. But there is a steep price to pay. Narcotics diminish the capacity for personal relationships. Narcotics dull and finally destroy the capacity for living, feeling, loving, enjoying. And praying. When we choose to live with a diminished sense of the limits imposed by our basic neediness, we falsify our place in the intricate and marvelous goodness of our creation, what the psalmists celebrate as the ‘land of the living.’ A refusal to work within limits is a stubborn, rebellious refusal to receive life as a gift. Needs are not limitations that interfere with or refuse or flatten our lives. Needs prepare us for a life of receptivity, a readiness to receive what can only be received as gift. Needs open the door into this vast giving-receiving ecological intricacy of sky and sea, clover and bee, man and wife, horse and carriage. Needs don’t reduce us to ‘mere’ creatures; they provide the conditions in which we are able to live in reciprocal relation with wildflowers and woodpeckers, with sons and daughters, with parents and grandparents. The limitations inherent in need prevent us from illusions of grandeur and the isolations of selfish pride. …Limits don’t limit us from being fully human. They only limit us from being God.” Eugene Peterson

“He himself gives life and breath to everything,
and he satisfies every need.”
Acts 17:25

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would you rather do it yourself without any help from anyone? If so, why?
  • Do you use consumerism or technology to avoid neediness?
  • What is to be lost in denying neediness? …gained in embracing it?

Abba, help me take my rightful place in this world, experiencing the great ecology of the land of the living.

For More: Tell It Slant by Eugene Peterson

_________________________________________________

Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Meeting God in the Poor (Henri Nouwen and Dean Brackley)

“We all suspect that the world is a crueler place than we dare to admit. Since the poor confront us with this evil, it is tempting to avoid them. But if we let their stories break our hearts, they can open our eyes to marvels we scarcely dared imagine. They reveal the revolution of love that God is bringing about in the world. There is a lot of dying going on, but a lot of rising as well. That is the deepest meaning of history and of our lives. But we perceive the daily resurrections only if we open our eyes to the crucifixions. To share the hope of the poor, we must let their suffering move us and place us before the Holy Mystery laboring among us.” Dean Brackley

“When we are not afraid to confess our own poverty, we will be able to be with other people in theirs. The Christ who lives in our own poverty recognises the Christ who lives in other people’s. Just as we are inclined to ignore our own poverty, we are inclined to ignore others’. We prefer not to see people who are destitute, we do not like to look at people who are deformed or disabled, we avoid talking about people’s pains and sorrows, we stay away from brokenness, helplessness, and neediness. By this avoidance we might lose touch with the people through whom God is manifested to us. But when we have discovered God in our own poverty, we will lose our fear of the poor and go to them to meet God. …The poor have a treasure to offer precisely because they cannot return our favours. By not paying us for what we have done for them, they call us to inner freedom, selflessness, generosity, and true care. Jesus says: ‘When you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; then you will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you and so you will be repaid when the upright rise again.’  (Luke 14:13-14).” Henri Nouwen

“He will rescue the poor …
for their lives are precious to him.”
Psalm 72:12-14

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you honest with yourself about “poverty” in your life?
  • Are you inclined to ignore people who make you uncomfortable? …what in you makes you uncomfortable?
  • Do you think a poor person could teach you anything about “inner freedom, selflessness [or] generosity?”
  • Is that even logistically possible – do you ever actually make a point to speak with or know someone who is poor?

Abba, thank you for truly poor friends who love, inspire, encourage and instruct me.

For More: Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

_________________________________________________

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