The Beauty of Shyness

I’ve been using Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey recently for my devotions. This was the passage for today:

There is something beautiful about shyness, even though in our culture shyness is not considered a virtue. On the contrary, we are encouraged to be direct, look people straight in the eyes, tell them what is on our minds, and share our stories without a blush.

But this unflinching soul-baring, confessional attitude quickly becomes boring. It is like trees without shadows. Shy people have long shadows, where they keep much of their beauty hidden from intruders’ eyes. Shy people remind us of the mystery of life that cannot be simply explained or expressed. They invite us to reverent and respectful friendships and to a wordless being together in love.

Nouwen’s wisdom is so enriching here, especially since I’ve been making a conscious effort to practice the exact opposite in my life. I’ve been trying to be more vulnerable, more open, confessing my sins and weaknesses—less shy, in other words. These are good things, but there is a fragile beauty in its opposite as well.


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