We all face challenges at different points of our life when we seem to be stuck in a problem without a clear path forward. It is the nature of our life journeys. In those moments, when the obstacles seem so large and formidable, if we are blessed, we can find a person who enables us to see—right before our eyes—what we did not see. When the veil is lifted and our sight is transformed into insight, we receive a burst of energy and hope to help us transcend our challenges and rise to the occasion.
Who is your mentor and who is your guide? We all need one to get us through such challenging times.
One of Reverend Doll’s spiritual mentors is Henri Nouwen, Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian whose insight transformed a community. L’Arche, in France, is a spiritual community originally founded by Episcopalians with the goal of welcoming people of all faiths and backgrounds. In time, Jews, Muslims and Christians from all traditions were welcomed. But if there was a celebration in the Anglican or the Episcopalian tradition, people outside those traditions were upset because it wasn’t theirs. If there was a Roman Catholic program, then everyone else was upset. If they tried to do one of the Jewish feasts, people just felt out of it. How could they all be faithful to their respective traditions, but still worship together? They were stuck.
In the words of Sister Sue Mosteller, one of the participants, “…we assistants…were not able to find a way to make people happy. That was the reason we had invited Henri. We needed pastoral help. We knew we were not here to convert anybody or make them change. If people belong to a tradition, we wanted to help them grow in that tradition. But we didn’t know how to do it.”
Henri Nouwen could see what others could not see. He was invited to offer pastoral support. Here’s what happened, in the words of Sister Mosteller, “We went around the table describing our big problem. He listened for a long time. At the end, he just paused. We all were waiting. What he said basically changed everything…’Maybe if we change the word problem and use the word gift, we could look at this as something God, having invited us to live together, gave us as a treasure.…And, yes, if we worship in a certain tradition, it’s going to be hard, but that’s okay. We don’t have to get upset. We can just be there. Let’s not look for how it’s different. Let’s look for how it’s beautiful.’ That changed everything. We began this journey of welcoming the differences and seeing each of our traditions as something to be cherished.”
What problems do you face? How can you envision them as gifts? Rather than complain about the challenge you may face, see it as an opportunity. Substitute the word gift for the word problem. Find a guide to help you open up your eyes to see the beauty in every situation. It is there waiting to be revealed. We invite you to be in touch with us to assist you in finding the person to help you reframe and reorient you to see what you may not see and reveal the hidden beauty in every situation.
Click here to purchase Rabbi Daniel Cohen’s book, What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone?