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Posted July 12, 2010

A wonderful spiritual insight for Spiritual Directors and those under spiritual direction

This mediation is taken from Henri Nouwen’s book, Spiritual Direction that has already been posted on our website. For more select Search on the menu above, select JKNIRP only and put in the name Nouwen.

Where Do I Begin?

The Tale often told about Michelangelo forming a statue speaks of how spiritual formation takes place in the heart:

The Lion in the Marble

There was once a sculptor who worked hard with hammer and chisel on a large block of marble. A little child who was watching him saw nothing more than large and small pieces of stone falling away left and right. He had no idea what was happening. But when the boy returned to the studio a few weeks later, he saw, to his surprise, a large, powerful lion sitting in the place where the marble had stood. With great excitement, the boy ran to the sculptor and said, “Sir, tell me, how did you know there was a lion in the marble?”

The little boy’s question to the sculptor is a very real one, perhaps the most important question of all. The answer is, “I knew there was a lion in the marble because before I saw the lion in the marble, I saw him in my own heart. The secret is that it was the lion in my heart that recognized the lion in the marble.” The art of sculpture is, first of all, the are of seeing; and discipline is the way to make visible what has been seen.

Spiritual disciplines are the skills and techniques by which we begin to see the image of God in our heart. Spiritual formation is the careful attentiveness to the work of God, our master sculptor, as we submit to the gradual chipping away of all that is not God, until the inner lion is revealed. Spiritual direction s the interaction between the little child, the master sculptor, and the emerging, beautiful marble lion. Any director is really an onlooker who cheers and marvels as the artistry unfolds.