10 February 2019
Amis letter 02/06
Jesus’ story is a story of God with us – incarnation, God as man. The first letter from John begins with these words: What existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we observed and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life! (1John 1:1) We too are minders of God’s presence - we have guides and mentors – people who accompany us on our journeys of discovery and joy and suffering.
We have already “met” Aelred – the medieval theologian of friendship and Meister Eckhart – the mystic theologian of the soul. Today we jump to the modern age to meet a new friend (although I suppose many of you have heard of him) – Henri Nouwen.
“Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen (January 24, 1932 – September 21, 1996) was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian. His interests were rooted primarily in psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community. Over the course of his life, Nouwen was heavily influenced by the work of Anton Boisen, Thomas Merton, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, and Jean Vanier. After nearly two decades of teaching at academic institutions including the University of Notre Dame, Yale Divinity School and Harvard Divinity School, Nouwen went on to work with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the L'Arche Daybreak community in Richmond Hill, Ontario.”
Henri’s story is a fascinating story of wisdom, discovery, suffering and humbleness.
“Nouwen was known to suffer from loneliness and a need for interpersonal connection, which he wrote about openly.His popularity as a spiritual guide has been linked to his capacity to describe his personal struggles in a relatable manner. He credited his approach to an interest in the daily life of people and his own journey with Christian life:
I wanted to know how we could integrate the life of Christ in our daily concerns. I was always trying to articulate what I was dealing with. I thought that if it was very deep, it might also be something other people were struggling with. It was based on the idea that what is most personal might be the more universal.(Wikipedia)
I think he was the one who coined the term – and wrote a book with the same title: The Wounded Healer. Our wounds and suffering enables us to heal and accompany others on their journeys of healing.
You will be able to find a lot about Henri Nouwen online.
One of his most famous books is “The Prodigal Son”. He uses the Rembrandt painting in the Hermitage museum (St Petersburg) to interpret and accompany his reading of the parable of the prodigal son. It is a worthwhile reading.
I would like to leave you with one thought from Henri…
“A life without a quiet center easily becomes destructive”
Untill next week
To ponder on…
Who are your guides and mentors along your journey?
Do you have a place or time for some quiet?
What about now….!?