Most mornings this week I have struggled to get out of bed and meet the day; the thought of all the tasks and people who inevitably will demand my careful and attention has been a little overwhelming. There have been times when my carefully planned time has been fractured by interruptions which have, well, interrupted my plans!! I have felt frustrated and indignant that people have chosen this moment of this day to have a crisis to which I have to attend. I have born the brunt of another person’s anger and frustration – not really directed at me, I just happened to be there in the moment. I have seen others reeling from the impact of unexpected hostility. And so when the next morning comes, I really would rather stay in bed!!
This week I had the chance to journey through Henri Nouwen’s book, ‘Reaching Out’ with the certificate four students. The book is one of the most helpful books I have read; my copy is well worn, underlined and scribbled in through out! It’s Nouwen’s guide to Christian spirituality and forms the basis of my organisation’s youth work practice. I think Nouwen must have been on to something because each time I read it, I find it speaks to and challenges specific situations I am facing.
Nouwen talks about our spiritual journey as an ongoing vacillation between two polar opposites in three areas of our existence. One of these polar pairs is hostility and hospitality. We watched 15 minutes from the movie ‘the secret life of bees’ in which the main characters are taken in by a lady who expresses a profound level of hospitality not just to her new guests but to the rest of her family. The class and I were challenged and inspired by this character’s ability to be a solid presence – somehow you knew where you stood with her – and yet create space for others to be free around her.
This week I have had to face the part of me that would rather keep you at arms length (or avoid you entirely) and subtly control you so that I am not disturbed too much by your existence. Not only have I had to face it, but I have once again needed to learn to accept this part of who I am. I think it was Karl Jung who said that the pathway to completion is through the doorway of self acceptance. As I accept my own hostility and realize that Jesus knew it all along and so find grace in the shadow of the cross, I find I can welcome you with your pains and fears that sometimes make you appear hostile. I can welcome you by my own choosing; not in my own strength, but in the grace that I myself have received.