This short series of four films breaks open the core incarnational theology which underpins ministry in the service of the Gospel. Based upon the work of Fr Henri Nouwen the films introduce us to a spirituality which mirrors the paschal mystery and the Easter Triduum.
Film 1 Guest: Pope Francis continually speaks about a culture of encounter. The first step, and possibly the most important, is HOW we approach the sacred ground of encounter. We approach the other as ‘guest’. The guest comes gently, slowly, respectfully and humbly. The guest comes ready to both give and receive. The guest bows low knowing that this encounter is wrapped in the innate dignity of the other and their sacred story. Guest-ness is an ego free space.
Film 2 Presence: If guest-ness is HOW we approach the sacred ground of encounter then presence is what we DO once we are in this sacred space. Presence is a deliberate choice to be totally there for the other. It is total other-centeredness. Presence means that everything about us is focussed on the other. Our eyes are soft and welcoming, accepting and forgiving. Our touch is gentle and sensitive. Our ears hear the cry from deep within – we are present to both the verbals and the non-verbals. Our words come from the heart and encourage, console, affirm and heal.
Film 3 Dignity: What do we come as guest to? What are we present to? We are present to the innate dignity of the other. In Christian theology we speak about the other as being the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. The word ‘innate’ means of one’s essence, of one’s core.
Film 4 Compassion: We will never do ‘guest’ and ‘presence’ perfectly. To truly develop the heart of the guest and be present is a life long journey and one never really arrives. But it is not about arrival – it is about the journey. When we, with God’s help, grow each day into the heart of the guest then our heart will automatically open in compassion. Our eyes will accept and heal, our arms will wrap around in total acceptance, we will walk to pain and sit in silence with the other when they are overwhelmed. As Teresa of Avila says, “We become Christ’s hands, and eyes and heart for this world!”
Film 5 Liberation: Film five is still to be produced. The end result of this sacred spiritual journey will be the truly liberated heart. This is Easter morn! When we truly and deeply encounter both parties to the encounter go away from the sacred ground more free; liberated.