gentle prophets

A few months ago, on a silent directed retreat, I spoke to my assigned spiritual director about something I’ve only shared with a few people: my personal call from God to be a “gentle prophet” in this world.

The director tried to talk me out of this. She tried to tell me that prophets are never gentle, and that if I wanted to embrace this call of mine, I’d have to drop the “gentle” part of it. Prophets, she said, are people like Jeremiah, hated by those to whom they preach and despised for their message.

At the time, I nodded my head in agreement. Surely, someone who had been directing retreats and retreatants for so many years must know a lot more about prophets than me. And yet, her words have stuck with me, challenged me, made me think. And I’ve come to this conclusion. In my heart of hearts I know that she was incorrect. Gentle prophets can, and do, exist, and must continue to do so in this modern world.

This morning, I ran across a wonderful piece by Ron Rolheiser about this very thing. Rolheiser wrote about my kind of prophet back in 1995. You can read his article here:

http://www.ronrolheiser.com/columnarchive/?id=1062

As I sit here this morning considering all that Rolheiser says, I begin to see this gentle “prophet-ness” as a sort of bridge. The only constant in most of our lives is change. We move from place to place. We leave jobs, and find new ones. We get married, have children, and do our best to adapt to their constant change and growth, all the while ourselves constantly changing and growing older. Sometimes, our marriages end. Or we sever ties with people we have loved. Or we suffer deep personal losses that seem to make no sense at all.

As Rolheiser says, the task of the prophet today is “to keep incarnate the wide, all-embracing heart of God, a heart that has many rooms.” To embrace change and continue to love through it. To bridge the hurt and anger and indignation that inevitably comes from living. And to respond with gentleness and compassion.

Today, I pray that my evolving sense of purpose continues to be molded and shaped by God. I pray that providence allows me to live out my purpose with renewed commitment and love. And I pray for each of us to know, in a deeply personal way, God’s all-embracing heart.

I invite you to do the same.

11 thoughts on “gentle prophets

  1. Couldn’t agree more. You are my most favorite gentle prophet in a world way too loud with way too much stimulation and distraction. Your words come like a soft and welcome breeze. That is what I can hear. That is what I need. Thanks my friend. Xo

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  2. Becky, as always, very thought provoking. The prophet is called to be a messenger of God and sometimes the message is as loud as a whisper and as familiar as a summer thunderstorm. Fortunately, in Jesus Christ, we have the fullness of the “prophetic” and, like him, the message may be as gentle and welcoming as a cool breeze on a hot day and at other times, it will be confronted with the violence of the cross. Jesus brings out the best in us. He also exposes the worse. Vinegar or honey. The prophet uses both as did Jesus. In my own life, I delight in the abundance of honey and I am, relunctantly, grateful for the surgical use of vinegar.

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    • Don, thank you for this. I particularly like the way you refer to the message as “loud as a whisper”. It is my hope that we can all embrace whatever ways each of us are called to be prophets.

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  3. Amen, Becky. The Lord couldn’t have chosen a better vessel! I always look forward to your “gentle” words! Thank you for the balm for my soul – Pam McKenzie

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  4. Brings to mind the Prayer of St. Francis: “Make me a channel of your peace …”. Thanks, Becky. I look forward to spending some time thinking and praying about this.

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  5. I always fall back to the Jesus directive of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). If you can accomplish that as gentle prophet, you are doing God’s work. I think you can, too.

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  6. Thanks, Becky. I have been so turned off by relentless, boisterous people spreading the word of God. Your peaceful way is much more palatable and convincing. Please continue!

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