Each summer I find myself inspired to reread a spiritual classic that has had a profound impact on my life of faith and experience of God’s love. It has seemed especially important to me this month given the violence, hateful rhetoric, and fear that has confronted us on a daily basis. Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved was written to a friend of Henri’s and others who struggle with the spiritual life in a secular age. The opening lines of the book set the tone for the conversations and reflections that follow:
“Ever since you asked me to write for you and your friends about the spiritual life, I have been wondering if there might be one word I would most want you to remember when you finished reading all I wish to say. Over the past year, that special word has gradually emerged from the depths of my own heart. It is the word ‘Beloved,’ and I am convinced that it has been given to me for the sake of you and your friends.”
Nouwen spends the rest of the book inviting us to reflect on living as God’s Beloved. For him it is the essence of the spiritual life. He says:
“…being the Beloved is the origin and fulfillment of the life of the Spirit. I say this because, as soon as you catch a glimpse of this truth, we are put on a journey in search of the fullness of that truth until we can rest in that truth. From the moment we claim the truth of being the Beloved, we are faced with the call to become who we are. Becoming the Beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make. Augustine’s words: ‘My soul is restless until it rests in you, O God,’ capture well this journey.”
As the summer comes to an end, I am so thankful for God’s claim and call on us to live as God’s Beloved. I am also thankful and grateful that God has called us together in First Presbyterian Church as we make this journey with one another. May we continually remind one another that we are God’s Beloved and encourage and support one another in living as God’s Beloved. And now, especially now, may we passionately speak and live God’s love to a broken, hurting, fearful world.
You are God’s Beloved. We are God’s Beloved. Know, trust, and live this truth. The world needs us to.
God’s peace to you,