This excerpt is from "The Seeking Heart, A Journey with Henri Nouwen, by Charles R. Ringma
Without Hope, the cry of doubt
"While we may begin the journey of life with a gentle idealism, it is usually not too long before the sobering, and even wounding, experiences begin to sculpt a different perspective of life for us. Part of growing up is becoming "bloodied" in the process.
For many this sobering process is helpful and healthy. One cannot live well cocooned in naivete. Hence the bruising experiences of life bring strength. And our woundedness may become a gateway for faith leading to homecoming and healing.
But this picture may not be a good indication of what happens to others. The difficulties of life can bring in their wake questions of doubt and the experience of hopelessness. For some, these become religious questions that throw serious doubt on God's sovereignty and goodness in the face of personal tragedy and the ongoing madness of violence and war in our world. For others, the questions of doubt are shafted home: It must be my fault, my life in jinxed. And this so often leads to self-doubt and self-pity. There are people who live with the general dread that their life is somehow "cursed."
But possibly for most, the experience of both the goodness as well as the difficulties of life lead to the building of walls around us. And that wall may have deep fortifications within what was once a tender heart and soul. Here the way of the heart has become constricted. Defensiveness and hardness begin to dominate the inner soulscape.
We have all met hard and ruthless people, people seemingly without conscience and without the milk of human kindness. It is easy to see this in other. It is much harder to see it within ourselves, especially when this hardness spreads like a slow-growing cancer within the fabric of our being.
So, while many of us may not completely shut the gate, most of us do close down certain parts of our inner house. Henri Nouwen puts it as follows: "You hold fast to what is familiar, even if you aren't proud of it. You find yourself saying: 'That's just how it is with me. I would like to be different, but it can't be now. That's just the way it is.'"
The icy fingers of doubt and resignation have gripped the human heart. And so one lives without openness regarding a future for these matters. One has shut down.
To have doubt is one thing, but to be without hope is another. To have shut the door is a further step, abut cracks can appear in solid walls. Then sometimes trees spring up in the most barren and rocky terrain.
The beginnings of a turnaround usually do not start with some magic solution but with the cry of doubt. To pray a prayer of hopelessness is the beginning of prayer. And to start with acknowledging one's hardness is the beginning of hope.
The problem in the life of faith and prayer is not so much what we cry out to the heavens but that we don't cry out at all. The cry, whatever it may be, is an expression of life, while a sullen silence the rigor of death."
The tearing down of walls can be a scary and painful thing. But life on the other side of the wall is so much better. I get glimpses of it, and I want more.