How can we live our brokenness? Jesus invites us to embrace our brokenness as he embraced the cross and live it as part of our mission. He asks us not to reject our brokenness as a curse from God that reminds us of our sinfulness but to accept it and put it under God’s blessing for our purification and sanctification. Thus our brokenness can become a gateway to new life. Henri Nouwen
I found this quote today in my inbox. Living my brokenness. I face it every day right now, a physical brokenness, from within, with a severe osteoporosis discovered these past weeks. Suddenly, life has changed, a new life which, strangely, I am welcoming.
As our weeks in Manresa came to an end, it dawned on me that the Christian path was for each one of us to become Christ-like, cruciform, Christic, i.e. to follow Jesus in his self-emptying, on a day-to-day basis. As St Paul said:
Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Phil. 2:7-8
As our immersion into Ignatius’ world came to a close, I sensed, from the Mystagogy (mystical understanding) of the Spiritual Exercises to the cosmic vision revealed at the end, that “I was called to a Christic [self-emptying] pilgrimage, in the company of Ignatius, my family and friends, and Ignatian companions — with the hope of helping some souls on the way.”
During the Course, as I followed Ignatius’ life and work, I started to comprehend how he saw, experienced, and followed Christ. It became obvious that to join Christ in his building of the Kingdom, I too needed to let myself be emptied, to die to myself [however one does this]. I was to accept kenosis, the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will. (Wikipedia)
A call to kenosis… I have no idea of what this call entails. Is this madness?
‘The Spirit is the vulnerability of Godde; we too are invited to be vulnerable,’ our lecturer, George, told us. I had never thought of Godde as vulnerable, but in fact this is the way She is with us, ever hoping we will turn back to her; this is the way Jesus was, going to the end of his logic of compassion and self-giving…
This vulnerability, Godde’s or ours, comes in so many flavors, colors, shapes, and ways. Challenges at work, heartbreaks with loved ones, health issues, sudden unexpected and unwanted changes and, finally, aging.
Hasn’t Ignatius taught us to say,
“Take, Lord, and receive my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will. All that I am and possess. You gave it all to me. Now I return it all to you: Do with it as you wish. Just give me your grace and your love, that is enough for me.”
Godde’s grace and love is such an enormous gift. How can anyone say, ‘Just’ give me…
Vulnerability, or brokenness, has come to me this time with a physical illness, hidden in my spine. How fortunate I am to discover this now, when there are ways of taking care of it! Still, doctors have prescribed for me to do ‘nothing.’ I find and express so much of what I am in what I do…
With every challenge comes a grace. The grace which comes immediately to my mind is the ability to notice all those around me who are suffering, often much more than I do.
I like to remember that our vulnerability, our suffering, and our brokenness are scooped up in Teilhard de Chardin’s Mass on the World:
Over every living thing which is to spring up, to grow, to flower, to ripen during this day say again the words: This is my Body. And over every death-force which waits in readiness to corrode, to wither, to cut down, speak again your commanding words which express the supreme mystery of faith: This is my Blood.
Henri Nouwen, from his own experience, tells us that our brokenness, with its purifying and sanctifying impact, can become a gateway to new life. A new life, a new understanding, a new freedom.
May it be so.
Art: Mary Southard, It Takes A Universe