Nouwen on Leaving Home

Yet over and over again I have left home. I have fled the hands of blessing and  run off to faraway places searching for love! This is the great tragedy of my life and of the lives of so many I meet on my journey. Somehow I have become deaf to the voice that calls me Beloved, have left the only place where I can hear that voice, and have gone off desperately hoping that I would find somewhere else what I could no longer find at home. At first this sounds unbelievable. Why should I leave the place where all I need to hear can be heard? The more I think about this question, the more I realize the true voice of love is a very soft and gentle voice speaking to me in the most hidden places of my being. It is not a boisterous voice, forcing itself on me and demanding attention. It is the voice of a nearly blind father who has cried much and died many deaths. Sensing the touch of God’s blessing hands and hearing his voice are one and the same . . . . But there are many other voices voices that are loud, full of promises and very seductive. These voices say, “Go out and prove that you are worth something.” Soon after Jesus had heard the voice calling him the Beloved, he was led to the seser to hear those other voices. They told him to prove that he was worth love in being successful, popular, and powerful. Those same voices are not unfamiliar to me . . . . They want me to prove to myself and others that I am worth being loved, and they keep pushing me to do everything possible to gain acceptance. They deny loudly that love is a totally free gift. I leave home every time I lose faith in the voice that calls me Beloved and follow the voices that offer a greaty variety of ways to win the love I much desire.

From The Return of the Prodigal pp. 39-40.

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