Henri Nouwen, was a preacher, teacher, and author, and was well-regarded in the practice of “downward mobility” – the direct opposite of the upward mobility most of us aspire to.
He is quoted as saying, “Scripture reveals…that real and total freedom is only found through downward mobility…The divine way is indeed the downward way… [Jesus] moved from power to powerlessness, from greatness to smallness, from success to failure, from strength to weakness, from glory to ignominy. The whole life of Jesus of Nazareth…resisted upward mobility”.
We all have cravings and sacrificing our selfish cravings in order live out our holy ones is truly an ambitious and arduous goal. Yet, this is where the life we truly desire comes from. It’s spiritual fuel.
Cravings are hard wired in us, but trying to quench, or satisfy them with secular sedatives is at best only temporal. For example, when we are truly thirsty, nothing but water will satisfy our intense thirst, because our bodies are largely made up of water, our body craves water. Likewise, our spirit craves and nothing can satisfy the spirit but The Holy Spirit. For God is Spirit and we must worship Him in spirit (John 4:24).
Yet, we make vain attempts to satisfy our spirit’s thirst with everything this world has to offer – only to discover we remain restless and anxious for more. This is because nothing but Jesus Christ can quench our inner thirst.
Water is for the body as worship is to the spirit. Downward mobility helps us in this task for it takes the focus off us and rather than money, power, prestige and fame calling the shots and directing our moves, we are open to allow God to direct where we go, what we do, and to control every aspect of our life. Based not on material matters, but spiritual.
Whether these elevate, or not, we like Mother Theresa, Henri Nouwen and others, can aspire to live not based upon a cultural upward mobility mindset, but rather God’s direction for our life – no matter how counter cultural that may be.