I have to imagine that this story might be incredibly painful for parents whose children have been abducted or have gone missing. I think of the Wetterling family, or the girls abducted in Nigeria by Boko Haram. Where was God in the midst of all this horror and all this tragedy? What happens when the shepherd can not find the lost sheep? I have no idea how to answer this. I’m not going to even try.
Nouwen’s giving is not a call to abandon our own health and boundaries for the well-being of another, it is a participation together with another in our mutual brokenness and our identity as the Beloved. This, to me, is why the Church continues to be such an incredible gift. The worshipping community is that place of safety where we can lay bare our brokenness, embrace it as part of our identity, and reach out to each other in hope and mercy, realizing that in giving we receive.
When life transitions or changes, it can be difficult to find stability in the chaos. It has certainly been difficult for me. But this, I believe, is where daily spiritual practice earns its medal.
To love your neighbor as yourself is infinitely more than some simple act of service. It has the ability to reverberate beyond your very existence. It is in this intimate and often messy experience of community that our lives find persistent meaning beyond our own biological death.
Make no mistake, this fight is a spiritual matter. This fight is about more than just energy policy, or the legality of a pipeline. It is about the ongoing oppression of a people. It is about the idolatry of profit and money. And it is about the stewardship of God’s sacred creation.
“We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another” – Thomas Merton
I became an Oblate candidate at St. John’s Abbey in January of this year. An Oblate is someone who is “living in the world according to the Spirit of Saint Benedict”*. It’s like cosplay for the monastically inclined. I don’t have a tonsure. I don’t wear a habit. I’m not celibate. I’m just trying to engage the world prayerfully, with humility and simplicity. This is easier said than done, which is why the support of the monastic community is so important.