Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hoping you dance--Wesley Foundation E-letter (Methodist Campus Ministry)

Dear Friends,


Hello!!!!  I am so anxious to see you and hear about Spring Break!  It was a truly blessed time here at the Wesley.  While our plans got changed around a bit because of the snow and ice (crazy, huh?), we were still able to have our fasting retreat.  It was amazing; GOD SO SHOWED UP!!!!  Praise Him!  Tomorrow night we will settle on a weekend in April to finish our journey with Beth Moore; this will offer those of you who couldn’t join us an opportunity to experience God’s amazing grace with us as well.


TOMORROW we will be on South Lawn with a portable prayer labyrinth.  This is an awesome opportunity to pray and reflect on your journey with God.  Come by DUC South Lawn in the afternoon (roughly between noon and 5pm).  Walk the Labyrinth and be blessed.


Tomorrow night we will have special time of worship as we focus on the road leading up to the cross.  Remember food is at 6:30pm and it’s FREE!


Now For Sami’s Ramblings About Jesus:


I have spent some of my quiet time this morning reflecting on the words of Henri Nouwen.  In an interview he gave during his lifetime, he had this to say about his own experience of suffering: 


“I started to slowly realize that maybe the experience of loneliness and the experience of separation might not be a negative thing. . . .  If I would not run away from it, but feel it through all the way, it might become fruitful.  Then suddenly I had this idea that loneliness which is pain, when you do not run away from it but feel it through and stand up in it and look it right in the face, that there is something there that can be a source of hope, that in the middle of the pain there is some hidden gift.  I, more and more in my life, have discovered that the gifts of life are often hidden in the places that hurt most” (Nouwen Then, pg. 134).


He touches on something that has been stirring in me all week.  As we draw closer to celebrating the resurrection of Easter, we also draw closer to that which is the portal to Christ’s most glorious moment:  His crucifixion.  His suffering stirs so deeply in me.  It is so human.  It is as if His earth story which is so different by virtue of His divinity takes an astonishing turn and holds an unflinching mirror up to my own suffering.  I cannot escape my own suffering because He refused to escape His.  I cannot pretend my own heartaches don’t exist, didn’t happen, or aren’t real because His heartache playing itself out on the cross was extremely real.  The deep anguish and ugliness of His trial and execution demand my attention; when I look at them, I can’t help but remember my own moments of anguish and ugliness, AND I can’t help but see the human story of anguish and ugliness that touches others lives every day. They are so intimately connected, His hurt and ours.  How true it is that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  The Word entered our human story and lived it to its fullest.  Yet at the very moment we touch the depth of this suffering it begins transforming into something else.


They are so intimately connected, His death and new Life.  As the story goes, Jesus died on a cross on a hill called Golgotha.  His body was removed to the grave.  After three days He rose again.  I can’t help thinking that the same story is true for us.  How often do we invite Jesus into our story of heartache and allow Him access to direct it as He will?  As we invite the Holy Spirit to stir in our life’s disappointments, disillusionments, and disasters the promise is that we will see the power of the Holy Spirit transform our trials into triumphs, our struggles into victories.  The poignancy of a transformed story is that every moment of suffering, when not denied but instead surrendered, becomes a story of praise:  “I once was lost, but now I’m found.  I once was blind but now I see.”  It is like Marlee Matlin, who is “profoundly deaf” hearing the music of her own soul and dancing before America.  Is she still deaf?  Yes.  But her inability to hear cannot keep her from dancing.  How powerful a witness she is to us, that she has to courage to allow a “No, you cannot do this,” to be transformed into a huge “YES!”


Psalm 30: 11-12 says this:  “You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.”  The power of the cross is that by entering into our very human suffering, Jesus has turned our mourning into dancing.  Weeping may indeed linger for the night, but His absolute promise is joy in the morning (Psalm 30:5).  I want to say very honestly that this is His promise writing itself into my own story.  The hurts of my own life have been many.  Those who know me know this.  But heartache has not had the last word.  For every anguish and ugliness I’ve seen, He has turned it into reason for praise.  My own resurrection story is that where there once was a vast wasteland in my soul, there is now beauty revealed by the tenderness of His touch, and my own soul dances gladly in His presence.  I don’t know what lies ahead on a daily basis, but I know He handles it all with resurrection power pulsing through His fingertips.


So dear friends, live this week of walking to the cross with humble gratitude.  Have the courage to see His story living in yours.  I pray you will be encouraged in the most wonderful ways.  Always . . .






Sami Wilson

Campus Minister/Director

WKU Wesley Foundation

United Methodist Campus Ministry



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that you are reading Nouwen. Here's an interesting (and obviously heretical) quote from Nouwen...

"Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God's house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God."
—From Sabbatical Journey, Henri Nouwen's last book
page 51, 1998 Hardcover Edition