Solitude and hospitality

Along with “from illusion to prayer,” Nouwen explores “from loneliness to solitude” and “from hostility to hospitality.” A personal inward journey joins a corporate, outward journey. The vehicle for solitude and hospitality is prophetic prayer. These movements are of a piece, always interwoven.

In the Bible, “prophetic” doesn’t refer to seers or soothsayers predicting the future. Those things are frowned upon and considered anti-faith, anti-prophetic. Prophetic prayer seeks God’s desire, God’s preferred future, which involves the healing of persons and the planet.

We go to great lengths to avoid the pain of loneliness. Carson McCullers (1917-1967) chose for her 1940 novel title a line from the Scottish poet William Sharp (1855-1905): “Deep in the heart of Summer, sweet is life to me still, But my heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on a lonely hill.”

I believe acts of hospitality far outnumber acts of hostility, but the mischief of hostility creates searing pain and grief with destructive (and sometimes massive) ripples. Prophetic prayer challenges hostility, injustice and all things inhospitable. Prophetic prayer builds community through hospitality.

Prayer isn’t about asking God to buy us a Mercedes Benz, a color TV or a night on the town. Prayer is about discovering God’s desire for planet earth and thereby aligning our desires and actions. In that process, we experience the inner peace of solitude and the outward joy of hospitality.

One thought on “Solitude and hospitality”

  1. This is a good series of blogs. I really like the notion of prayer being where we want to be instead of illusion. I am getting more benefit out of prayer as time goes by.

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