Saint Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church

1 St. Francis Drive - Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561
From The Rector

The Rev.
Tim Backus

 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 

All of us; every single one of us; have moments in which our spiritual lives are not where we want or need them to be. We may be fully aware of a spiritual disconnect we experience at any given time. These disconnects may last for hours, days, weeks, months, or even years. We may be aware of this disconnect at times, and at other moments in our lives, we may not know it at all. We may simply feel uncomfortable and unable to articulate why. Or, we may be suffering emotionally, mentally, or physically. Regardless of how we struggle, we may not even be aware of the spiritual disconnect that runs parallel to our suffering. 

In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he writes, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:16-19). At times, I find myself saying, ‘yeah right... When you say ‘all circumstances’ Paul, where is the caveat?’ 

Henri Nouwen, one of the most well-known spiritual authors of the 20th century, has and continues to inspire millions of people today. As a spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen was well known for his intimacy with God; particularly those moments in his life when he felt spiritually disconnected. Nouwen has inspired countless people to draw closer to God in the midst of their suffering and pain. Emotionally, mentally and physically, Nouwen has been a spiritual guide in part because this is the life he lived. Nouwen struggled through feelings of isolation and loneliness, lack of self-esteem, a mental disability that developed over time, and reconciling his struggle of depression with his Christian faith. 

In Nouwen’s book; a personal journal that came to be called “The Inner Voice of Love,” Nouwen wrote about his 6 month period of extreme anguish. This was not something Nouwen ever intended to publish. As Nouwen states in the Introduction, “Here I was, a writer about the spiritual life, known as someone who loves God and gives hope to people, flat on the ground and in total darkness.” During this time, Nouwen kept this journal. It took eight years for Nouwen to share what he felt was too personal and too raw for others to see.


In Nouwen’s 11th notation in this journal, he writes about giving gratuitously; even amidst such despair. Nouwen writes, “Your love, insofar as it is from God, is permanent. You can claim the permanence of your love as a gift from God.” Nouwen reminds us that we are never without God’s love, even in our worst moments in life; including those times we personally feel disconnected from God. During our worst times of emotional, mental, or physical anguish, Christ is with us in all circumstances. We may feel disconnected, but we aren’t. God is always connected to us. Trust in that. 

With the love of Christ,