Henri Nouwen: Ash Wednesday, Influx of Love
From Henri Nouwen Society Newsletter, February 17, 2021
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
RECEIVED, WELCOMED, AND LOVED If there is no parent, we cannot be lost. If we have no parent to return to, there is no experience of being lost. We are only lost when we can be found. Only in the light of goodness and forgiveness do we discover that we are lost. The love of a parent makes the child aware of being lost. The older son in the Prodigal Son story doesn't consider himself lost until he is confronted with the love expressed by the father on his prodigal brother's return. Only then does he touch his own lostness. The younger son, still apologizing, touches his lostness too, when he sees his father's forgiveness. This younger son prepares a story of apology because he doesn't fully understand the nature of his father's love. Only when he is received, welcomed, and loved with this deep parental embrace is the depth of his lostness revealed to him.
To say it another way, We only know that we're in darkness when we come into the light of God's love. It is only in the light, in the fulness of the sun, that we know there is a shadow.
Prayer for Ash Wednesday Gracious God, open me to recognize your thirst to love me. Inspire me to love those you've given me. - Henri Nouwen
February 17, 2021