22 January 2006

when the totality of our daily lives it lived 'from above' that is, as the beloved sent into the world, then everyone we meet and everything that happens to us becomes a unique opportunity to choose for the life that cannot be conquered by death. thus, both joy and suffering become part of the way to our spiritual fulfillment. i found this vision movingly expressed by the novelist julien green in a letter to his friend, the french philosopher jacques maritain. he writes, 'when you think of the mystical experience of many saints, you may ask yourself whether joy and suffering arent aspects of the same phenomenon on a very high level. an analogy, crazy for sure, comes to my mind: extreme cold burns. it seems nearly certain, no, it is certain that we can only go to God through suffering and that this suffering becomes joy because it finally is the same thing'

'when joy and pain are both opportunities to say 'yes' to our divine childhood then they are more alike than they are different. when the experience of being awarded a prize and the experience of being found lacking in excellence both offer us a chance to claim our true identity as the 'beloved' of God, these experiences are more similar then they are different. when feeling lonely and feeling at home both hold a call to discover more fully who the God is whose children we are, these feelings are more united than they are distinct. when, finally, both living and dying bring us closer to the full realization of our spiritual selfhood, they are not the great opposites the world would have us believe; they are, instead, two sides of the same mystery of God's love'

-henri nouwen

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