Courage

If there’s an excuse I can cite for not posting as frequently lately, it’s that the “little hater” got to me.  If you don’t know what I mean, check out this video.

We’ve also been enjoying the summer, or Boston’s excuse for one, with great visitors from out of town, farm-fresh local veggies, great neighbors, cat-naps in the afternoon, and awesome spiritual partners in the journey.

I’ve also felt the need of late to “re-center.”  I can so easily take my eyes off of what really matters in life and those practices that contribute to a flourishing life.  I’ve been working through Marjorie Thompson’s Soul Feast, which explores the deep traditions of spiritual practice in Christian history.  For me, someone who has a tendency to shelve practices I feel are outdated or irrelevant, Thompson’s book revives and redeems many of those practices, many of which have in fact lost their robustness.  The reason I picked the book back up, though, is because it culminates in the reader writing his or her Rule of Life.  Saint Benedict had his rule, a list of guidelines that he and his community lived by that can be summed up in this short phrase: “pray and work.”

I want to create Rule for myself, a list of non-negotiables meant to keep me centered on loving God and man and seeking the truly “good life.”  Part of my Rule will undoubtedly be “courage,” but not the “courage” of thrill-seekers and daredevils … I prefer the great Henri Nouwen’s definition (from two entries in his devotional book, Bread for the Journey:

A Courageous Life

“Have courage,” we often say to one another. Courage is a spiritual virtue. The word courage comes from the Latin word cor, which means “heart.” A courageous act is an act coming from the heart. A courageous word is a word arising from the heart. The heart, however, is not just the place our emotions are located. The heart is the center of our being, the center of all thoughts, feelings, passions, and decisions.

A courageous life, therefore, is a life lived from the center. It is a deeply rooted life, the opposite of a superficial life. “Have courage” therefore means “Let your center speak.”

Spiritual Courage

Courage is connected with taking risks. Jumping the Grand Canyon on a motorbike, coming over Niagara Falls in a barrel, walking on a tightrope between the towers of New York’s World Trade Center, or crossing the ocean in a rowboat are called courageous acts because people risk their lives by doing these things. But none of these daredevil acts comes from the center of our being. They all come from the desire to test our physical limits and to become famous and popular.

Spiritual courage is completely different. It is following the deepest desires of our hearts at the risk of losing fame and popularity. It asks our willingness to lose our temporal lives in order to gain eternal life.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Brad Carter on July 10, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks for the Nouwen quotes on courage…and don’t let your Little Hater get you.

    Reply

  2. I gave the Nouwen’s thoughts on courage to my HopeWorks student today. He’s in desperate need of courage. Good thoughts…

    Reply

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