Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.
(perusing the soon to be blooming shrubs when I notice a little visitor / Julie Cook / 2014)
Perhaps this is a bit of an odd assessment by Father Nouwen. . .his thought being that our expecting a surprise being the only way in which we may “see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us.”
How is one to expect a surprise?!
How is one expected to expect the unexpected?
Is not the whole point of a surprise just that. . .a surprise?
A surprise is unexpected and indeed a surprise, that’s how it works right?
We don’t know it’s coming.
We’re caught off guard.
And yet perhaps that is the gist of Father Nouwen’s assessment—that we should always be prepared for the unexpected.
Meaning, we shouldn’t exactly start walking around nervously looking over our shoulder 24 / 7, nor should we be living in a constant state of paranoia. . .but rather, we should be living with the knowledgable of the fact that life is constantly full of surprises and moments that are truly not expected nor planned. . .some of which are not even welcomed.
Surprises and the unexpected are just a few of the multi colored threads and cords which bind themselves to those events of our lives which are indeed well thought out, planned, and expected. We have control over one part of life’s woven fabric. . .not so much on the other half—Yet it is both pieces of cloth which make us whole.
It is therefore the wise individual who can wear these two fabrics as one. The one who can take the cloth of expectations and plans, the cloth of control and preparations and knit it to the cloth of surprises, the unexpected, the curveballs, the bombshells. . .knowing that both sides of this fabric is what makes us who we are.
The joys and the sorrows, the seen and the unseen, the planned and the surprises are those very threads which intertwine, weaving the magic of the development of who we actually are. Simply put, we must not live in fear of the unseen and unexpected happenings because like it or not, they will come. They will happen, and as Life has it, when we least expect them and are least prepared. There will indeed be the days of “I did not see that coming. . .”
And yet what Father Nouwen is merely stating is that we should simply acknowledge these occurrences within our daily lives. The unexpected should, simply put, be expected. This acknowledgment will allow us to leave our hearts open— as such occurrences of Life are part of the shared experience of our very humanity. The good, the bad, the happy, the sad all go in to making, forming and moulding each one of us as an individual— and in the end, when it is all said and done, we will truly be the better for it all. Is this not how understanding and empathy are forged? Is it not these shared experiences, be they good or bad, that lead to making us more human, more kind, more sympathetic, more concerned. . .?
All of which is forged and woven in the daily furnace and loom of what we call Life. . .