Henri Nouwen: Opaqueness to Transparency*
Sometimes it's hard to call a spade a shovel even when it's staring us in the face. We like to think that everything can be redeemed and maybe eventually that's true if we work at it. Here is Henri Nouwen's take.
Knowing Jesus, reading his words, and praying create an increasing clarity about evil and good, sin and grace, Satan and God. This clarity calls me to choose the way to the light fearlessly and straightforwardly. The more I come to know Jesus, the more I also realize how many such choices have to be made and how often. They involve so much more than my public acts. They touch the deepest recesses of the heart, where my most private thoughts and fantasies are hidden.
Reflecting on my life, I saw how opaque it has been. I often did one thing while saying another, said one thing while thinking another, thought one thing while feeling another. I found many examples in which I had even lied to myself. . . . .
How to go from this opaqueness to transparency? A transparent life is a life without moral ambiguities in which heart, mind, and gut are united in choosing for the light. I am discovering the importance of naming the darkness in me. By no longer calling the darkness anything else but darkness, the temptation to keep using it for my own selfish purposes gradually becomes less. . . .
A hard task is given to me—to call the darkness darkness, evil evil, and the demon demon. By remaining vague I can avoid commitment and drift along in the mainstream of our society. But Jesus does not allow me to stay there. He requires a clear choice for truth, light, and life. When I recognize my countless inner compromises, I may feel guilty and ashamed at first. But when this leads to repentance and a contrite heart, I will soon discover the immense love of God, who came to lead me out of the darkness into the light and who wants to make me into a transparent witness of his love.
- Henri Nouwen*
September 2, 2022
*From Daily Meditation, August 28, 2022, Henri Nouwen Society, email@example.com.
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