Here & Now by Rich Johnson
If you could learn from one person, past or present (besides Jesus) who would it be? For me, it’s Henri Nouwen. He is by far my favorite author who has written more than 30 books on the intersection of spirituality and culture. I’m not even halfway through his writings, but this year I’m planning to read twelve or more of his books.
First up on the list is Here & Now: Living in the Spirit. Nouwen says that we must learn to live each day as a new beginning and unique opportunity to make everything new! (see Lamentations 3:22-23) However, it’s hard to live in the present. “The past and future keep harassing us. The past with guilt, the future with worries.” (p. 17) The ambition of the spiritual life is to live here and live now.
Nouwen writes with brevity and invitation to ponder the deep concerns of life. I often read Nouwen and think, “I didn’t even know I had that problem.” Take judgement for example. I consider myself a pretty welcoming, friendly and inclusive guy. It’s true. But on the other hand, a fear of being judged is ever lurking closely behind. I discover that I’m not totally free of judgement as I thought I was before. “The experience of not having to judge cannot coexist with the fear of being judged, and the experience of God’s non-judgemental love cannot coexist with a need to judge others.” (pp. 62-63)
There is one spiritual discipline you can bet the house that Nouwen will suggest to process your way through any emotion: contemplative prayer. As simple as that sounds, there are many ways to talk to God and listen for his voice. Many ways...yes...but one relationship of prayer for us all as the beloved children of God. (see 1 John 3:1) The ability to live each moment as a new beginning is the gift we receive from Jesus’ cross and resurrection. By faith, we are constantly being redeemed, restored, and renewed.
If you could pick one author to read for a year, who would you choose? Why not get started this week?
Living in the Here & Now,