“You must keep looking for a new order”
By Henri Nouwen
And yet you are Christian only so long as you look forward to a new world, only so long as you constantly pose critical questions to the society in which you live, and only so long as you emphasize the need for conversion both for yourself and for the world. You are Christian only so long as you do not let yourself become established in a situation of seeming calm, only so long as you stay unsatisfied with the status quo and keep saying that a new world is yet to come. You are Christian only when you believe that you have a role to play in the realization of this new kingdom and when you urge everyone you meet with a holy unrest to make haste so that the promise might soon be fulfilled. So long as you live as a Christian, you must keep looking for a new order, a new structure, a new life.
…What does this have to do with prayer? Praying means breaking through the veil of existence and allowing yourself to be led by the vision which has become real to you. Whether we call that vision “the Unseen Reality,” “the total Other,” “the Spirit,” or “the Father,” we repeatedly assert that it is not we ourselves who possess the power to make the new creation come to pass. It is rather a spiritual power which has been given to us and which empowers us to be in the world without being of it.
The praying person looks on the world with compassion, penetrates its hidden meaning, and calls it to an always deeper conversion.
Give me the courage to live and work
for a new heaven and a new earth as Jesus did.
Give me the freedom to be critical where I
and to offer praises where I see goodness.
Most of all, make me faithful to the vision
you have given me,
so that wherever I go and whomever I meet,
I can be a sign of your all-renewing love.
• Henri J. M.Nouwen, With Open Hands (pp. 103-104; 114; 119)