Sunday, September 06, 2009

In the Garden of Spirituality – Joyce Rupp


“We are not on earth to guard a museum,
but to cultivate a flowering garden of life.”

– Pope John XXIII

The Wild Reed’s series of reflections on religion and spirituality continues with an excerpt from that part of Joyce Rupp’s book, Prayer, in which she reflects on the gift of grace.


We are mistaken if we think we can grow spiritually by our own efforts. This is actually the opposite of how prayer “works.” In prayer, we bring ourselves to the entryway of our relationship with the Holy One, but it is God “who is able to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine.” Divine power at work in us gives us what we need in order for our prayer to be a catalyst for union and transformation (Eph. 3:20).

The divine vigor stirring within us is grace, the loving energy of God’s movement. This gift enables us to grow into the person we are meant to be. The marvelous thing about grace is that it is freely contributed by God. We cannot force it to be given to us. We struggle fruitlessly if we try to grasp this gift in our clutches. What grace necessitates from us is our receptivity.

. . . Always divine grace draws us into relationship and encourages us into fuller life. Grace leads us into prayer and moves us out again. . . . [Like Jesus] we, too, are led (and sometimes driven) to union with the Holy One. We cannot control, force, or manipulate our relationship with God in prayer. Like Jesus, this encounter takes place when our spirit is ripe for it. If we are ready and willing to be graced, God enters in to reach and teach us in surprising ways. Through prayer we discover how God is present to us, guiding and encouraging us along the way.

Nurturing presence,
I turn the ears of my heart
in full attention to your voice.
I lean to catch the whispers
of your abiding love.
May I be ever and always open
to the countless places and times
you call me into relationship with you.

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Karl Rahner on the Need for Prayer

Others highlighted in The Wild Reed’s “In the Garden of Spirituality” series include:
Zainab Salbi, Daniel Helminiak,
Rod Cameron, Paul Collins, Joan Chittister, Toby Johnson, Joan Timmerman, Uta Ranke-Heinemanm, Caroline Jones, Ron Rolheiser, James C. Howell, Paul Coelho, Doris Lessing, Michael Morwood, Kenneth Stokes, Dody Donnelly, Adrian Smith , Henri Nouwen, Patrick Carroll, Jesse Lava, and Geoffrey Robinson.

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

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