You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
The other day I had to go into a nearby town and as parking there can be difficult I decided to take the bus. Part way through the journey we were told to get off the bus and join the bus following – don’t ask why, we never did find out! As a result a lady sat beside me and struck up a conversation. In the course of it she told me that on the following day she would take five buses as she would be attending her dance group in a village someway in the country. I remarked that it would take her all day. “Oh yes,” she said “I leave home at 10am and get back around 6pm but I meet up with some friends for lunch before we go on to our dancing.” Now it is impolite to ask a lady her age so I did not, but suggest that she may have been in her 80’s. However, she obviously looked forward to her day out!
Whilst in town I wandered round a book shop. Yes, I know that you can download books, indeed I have already downloaded Henri Nouwen’s Road to Daybreak, but I prefer to hold a book and to turn the pages. Here my eye was taken by his ‘Life of the Beloved and Our Greatest Gift’ in one volume. I already subscribe to his email Daily Meditation so I had to purchase this slim paperback. On the bus coming home I had only read a few pages before two points struck me. Firstly, Henri tells of a meeting with a journalist whom he convinces to follow his dream. He says: “... people can make choices .... according to their own best aspirations. I also believe that people seldom make those choices. Instead they blame ... others for their ‘fate’ and waste much of their life complaining.” I thought of my sprightly companion on the bus looking forward to her dance group tomorrow. She was not going to let age or tiresome bus journeys get in the way of her enjoyment. The second point came from Philip Yancey’s introduction where he says: “Nouwen has said that all his life two voices competed inside him. One encouraged him to succeed and achieve, while the other called him simply to rest in the comfort that he was the beloved of God. Only in the last decade of his life did he truly listen to that second voice.” I can relate to that since my call to discipleship came in what may be the last decade of my life. I will never be as influential as Henri Nouwen, but perhaps that does not matter, for though we may think that our lives are too insignificant to have anything to offer, yet, with God, nothing is too small. The point is that whatever age we may have reached God has a purpose for us.
So, what will you do for God today?
To receive Henri Nouwen’s Daily Mediations go to http://henrinouwen.org/
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years