Nouwen’s Words

Choosing Love

How can someone ever trust in the existence of an unconditional divine love when most, if not all, of what he or she has experienced is the opposite of love – fear, hatred, violence, and abuse?

They are not condemned to be victims! There remains within them, hidden as it may seem, the possibility to choose love. Many people who have suffered the most horrendous rejections and been subject to the most cruel torture have been able to choose love. By choosing love they became witnesses not only to human resiliency but also to the divine love that transcends all human loves. Those who choose, even on a small scale, to love in the midst of hatred and fear are the people who offer true hope to our world.

[Henry Nouwen, Bread for the Journey; San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997, June 14]

The cruel insult. The shove out of the way. The hurtful exclusion. Wishing harm and ill to others for any number of irrational reasons. All these acts come from the same darkness that prompts hatred and violence. It is a fearful well that so many drink from, thinking it will quench the loneliness and unworthiness that is burning their lives away from the inside out.

The genuine compliment. The helping hand. The invitation to join the conversation. Wishing healing and goodness for no reason in particular. All these acts come from the same transcendent light that fosters all life.

Small or large in scale, there’s a holiness to adding light rather than darkness to the world.

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