To nurture means to love for the long-term benefit of someone else.
Nurturing another can involve conflict sometimes – for example if someone has a short-sighted view of what is good for them, we may need to offer a different perspective if we can see that their current choices are actually damaging.
Likewise, nurturing ourselves may require us to change specific habits which are merely self-serving rather than life-giving to those we live and work with and encounter in our lives.
Western culture in 2020 seems fixated on short-term hedonism and living the life of a consumer. Genuine nurture of the spiritual life may put us at odds with this worldview but although we may need to offer an alternative viewpoint to others quite frequently, we know that the choices we strive to make are those that build up others, create community and draw us closer to God.
What brings you joy?
Joy is an individual experience, and although many joyful experiences are common to us all, like the joy of spending time with a friend, or the joy of singing or listening to a favourite piece of music, there are other joyful experiences which are quite private and reveal much about our own individual personality.
I am teased in my family for my love of the music of Mahler and Bruckner. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Nor is reading poetry, but that also brings a thrill to me. Both of these joys in my life are bound up with my life story and my individuality. If I reveal what brings me joy, I also reveal something of myself. What begins as a private experience can grow into a shared experience and build community (my son now also shares some of my musical tastes as well as having his own, quite distinct from mine!).
To live is to grow.
We see this in a young child most dramatically. And perhaps we if stop growing as adults then we are missing out on life in its fullness.
But to live is also to grow others. To use the example of the young child again, a couple will come together and grow a new human life. But whether or not we want to be, or are, parents, we can still grow the lives of others around us.
My professional life is in education, where this is an integral part of the day job. Not everyone has the same opportunities. But we all know relations, friends and neighbours whose lives we can learn to enrich.
To add to another’s life, in however small a way, is, in my opinion, one of the highest callings in life.
So as we start 2020, may we nurture ourselves and others, may we enjoy all that is good, and may we grow in our spiritual way.