(Note: there was no plan to write about Nouwen’s views on the worldwide house of love on Veteran’s Day, but I find an interface between the two in doing so)
Before ending his thoughts on moving from the house of fear to the house of love, Nouwen rightly shows that we cannot live in the Kingdom without wishing for others what we hope for ourselves. The “house of love” is meant to hold all people.
Our minds stall before the inability to realize what a world based on love would actually look like, but no one doubts it would be radically different from the current world which is so often and so largely based on fear.
The Great Commission is both an implicit and explicit “global spirituality” (p. 82). Nouwen is absolutely correct to point out that all spiritual leaders in the past have recognized this, and then have written and worked toward the goal (p. 83). The Bible ends with a new heaven and a new earth, so our interim ethic should be in line with that aim.
Nouwen’s comments reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with the Abbot at the Abbey of Gethsemani. We had gotten to know each other, so I knew he would not be offended by what I was about to say.
“Father Timothy,” I said, “You know there are a lot of people who believe that monks and monasteries are essentially irrelevant. What do you say about that?”
With a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, he responded, “We exist for two reasons. First, to pray. And secondly, we believe that forming one community based on the Gospel is a testimony to its reality. The monastery exists to intercede for the world and tell the world that the Gospel can be lived. What could be more relevant than that?”
I believe this illustrates at least two aspects of what it means to live in the house of love.