Sunday, May 21, 2017


In this second post on Henri Nouwen's incredible little book 'Life of the Beloved' I just have a couple quotes I pulled from the chapter on being "broken."

As I said before, this book is basically just writings from Henri to a friend. I was struck on p. 85 when Henri said:
"I told you about my writing as a means of dealing with my loneliness, my sense of isolation, my many fears, and my general sense of insecurity."
I've read loads of books by and about Henri, but this is the first I recall hearing anything like that. I think it resonated with me so because that is probably why I write, even though I'd never thought of it like that. I've always been a journaler, but I'd never considered it how I dealt with - or processed - the way I am. Even though it seems obvious now. I was actually somewhat encouraged to find that I have this in common with someone like this.

Speaking of writing, I do have to admit that it makes me feel better. When I am able to get in a flow and write something halfway decent - that's when I perhaps feel most alive. Unfortunately I don't do it much. It's also interesting that a friend of mine - who I don't think has ever read anything I've written - has suggested several times that I should consider writing a book. I don't know why he thinks that, or says that, but I also must admit that lately I've been thinking about it. I can't imagine it will ever happen because it would take up so much time, but I don't think I've ever noticed the impact writing has on me. So, who knows.


The other quote from this chapter deals with suffering. I like how he points out that everyone's suffering is unique. There may be similarities, but no one can tell another person how to suffer.

Then on pp. 89-90 he shares this:
"In the Western world, the suffering that seems to be the most painful is that of feeling rejected, ignored, despised and left alone. In my own community, with many severely handicapped men and women, the greatest source of suffering is not the handicap itself, but the accompanying feelings of being useless, worthless, unappreciated, and unloved. It is much easier to accept the inability to speak, walk, or feed oneself than it is to accept the inability to be of special value to another person. We human beings can suffer immense deprivations with great steadfastness, but when we sense that we no longer have anything to offer to anyone, we quickly lose our grip on life. Instinctively we know that the joy of life comes from the ways in which we live together and that the pain of life comes from the many ways we fail to do that well."

This is something I have always felt personally, but I didn't realize it was that common. Nouwen certainly has the experience to know, so, again, I find some comfort in the fact that it's not just me.


So, what do we make from these two tidbits? I don't know. It makes me want to slow down. Have slower conversations, a slower lifestyle, take my time in taking in what I see, hear, feel and sense. I guess, basically, it's to try to be more aware. Respond to people and situations slower and with less judgment, rather than thinking so much and forming opinions on-the-go.

I don't know... Yeah... I don't know. But I don't think being broken is all that bad. I don't think it lasts forever. It's not so much that we get repaired... but made new. That's my hope anyway.