Feb 18th to 24th: Sections 1-5

Reading: sections 1-5, The Road to Daybreak

Thank you for all the wonderful introductions last week!  It is always good to learn a little bit about you.  This week we jump into the text, and there is much to reflect upon.  We will provide a few questions to help get the discussion going, but please don’t feel bound to them.  This is an opportunity to share and discuss what came up for you in the readings.  Perhaps you’ll want to share from your own journey of discernment.

1) Early on Henri grounds this book and his journey in the name of Jesus.  “In his name I am called to live.  His name has to become my house, my dwelling place, my refuge, my ark.  His name has to start telling the story of being born, growing up, growing old, and dying – revealing a God who loved us so much that he sent his only child to us” (p9).
a) How can the name of Jesus “become my house, my dwelling place, my refuge, my ark”?  What do you think that means?
b) What does the Bible say about the name of Jesus?
c) How does living in the name of Jesus reveal God to others?

2) As he begins to reflect on his process of discernment, Henri refers to the story of the rich young man (Mark 10:21-22).  He wonders “how different his life would have been had he been free enough to follow Jesus” (p15).
a) Are you free enough to follow Jesus?
b) If we aren’t currently free enough to follow Jesus, what can we do ?  What might we pray?  What would be a first step?

3) We often think about following Jesus as leaving everything behind and doing something new, but Henri reminds us that it can be just as hard to follow Jesus by “staying home,” by staying where God has put you and being faithful there (p46).  
a) Are you called to “stay”?
b) What does it look like for you to live in the name of Jesus where you are right now?

4) Throughout the readings you will find numerous gifts and insights that Henri received from the persons with intellectual disabilities he encountered in L’Arche.  
a) Please feel free to share any stories that stood out to you or impacted you.

Following up on question number four, it seems to be a good time to say that your comment doesn’t have to be perfect, profound or polished.  You are not being evaluated based on your comment.  We just want to hear what God is speaking to your heart.

We very much look forward to hearing from each of you in the week ahead!  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Ray and Brynn

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74 Responses to Feb 18th to 24th: Sections 1-5

  1. Patrice Donnelly says:

    2/18-24:Name of Jesus. The name for God is sometimes forbidden to be spoken so as not to ever use it in vain. The intention is to help us keep the 10 commandments. This perspective and belief emphasizes obedience. However, under the new covenant we are asked to call the name of Jesus (as it is pronounced in any language, i.e. Joshua, Jesus, Yeshua) in order to seek salvation (Acts 2:21, Joel 2:32). We can also name the Trinity in our prayers, to further magnify God’s greatness. This approach and belief emphasizes community and relationship. Nouwen underscores this perspective by mentioning the importance of L’Arche as a name that signifies the purpose of the community, and reminds one of Noah’s Ark: “…the place where many vulnerable men and women who are threatened by the judgemental and violent world in which they live can find a safe place and feel at home (p. 9).”

    In my religious ed class last Sunday, we talked about penance as a way to deepen relationship with God and also with community of Christians and other spiritual seekers (5th grade class). I also mentioned how the stories and knowledge we gain as young people grows with us as we grow. So, applying that idea here, naming Jesus has changed for me from a reference to a friend and protector in childhood to that and a way to pray and as a body of teachings to impart. The change is cumulative and is influenced by my own needs in life. Since all of our lives are in flux, and since there are so many ways for us to talk with or understand Jesus, saying his name will have unending, ever-changing meaning.

  2. C. Kay Fuino says:

    Sometimes staying is more difficult than going when we know it is Jesus asking us to stay. Yet staying can help us to see where Jesus is using our gifts while also growing our capacity to see something new right where we are for the moment. Pere Thomas’s words about the heart and trust helped me to see a new space in my life and work to trust God that in all the work the real joy is the love and heart of trust that God is the one who is leading me, speaking to me and will guide me in all the decisions that will be made.

  3. David Brown says:

    3. I believe I’m called to stay in retirement her in SC at 69 yrs. old.In many ways i’d like to go,travel see places I have not been or children ,grandchildren who live far away.. I am able to help people in the name of Jesus where I am. Wife still working She is my age.
    , may retire soon. She does not want to travel for a variety of reasons.. I have had minor but very irritating illnesses for a year but starting to improve. I am trying to be active in my large Catholic church. Wife still Protestant which is difficult. Children live from 2 hours to 20 hours away and have their own busy ways. Retirement presents a conundrum between rest. relaxation and Christian service. Nouwen chose constant busyness and had health consequences.

  4. Peg Stonestreet says:

    Hi David,
    Thank you so much for your response to my questioning whether to go or stay. It helped me so much. I always need to remind myself to Go Home To Christ, to pray for the fruits of the Holy Spirit to fulfill me. Then I begin to see Christ in others and love unconditionally. Boy , it is difficult! I’m working on it constantly!! Blessing to you.

  5. Steve Scherdin says:

    In thinking about being free to say ‘yes,’ I feel my not answering has been a combination of the worldly pull of doing what I think others want me to do, commitments to family, or just making myself too busy to hear Jesus’ invitation. I think my life has been Jesus gently inviting me in one direction, my going in another, and He following along, still there for me, and still whispering his invitation.

    As my youngest is a year from college, I’m hearing that whisper a bit louder. I’m inspired by Henri’s attempts to find his true calling, wanting to hear my call, and encouraged by Thomas Merton’s prayer “…But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.”

  6. Harry Ford says:

    This past week I went to a meeting in a poorer part of Baltimore. One of the nearby neighborhoods, however, was quite the opposite. I guess the word for those houses is opulent. But in reality to me, they looked like empty shells. One could not tell much about the people who lived inside as they seemed to be in hiding. We cannot do this when we make Jesus our dwelling place, it needs to have a lived in, come on down and visit look. You know you will be welcome. When Jesus, the name exalted over all others is revealed, it is in community and in the breaking of bread and the sharing of crosses with friends
    So, then how free are we to follow Jesus? Do we believe in the freedom of Janis Joplin who felt that “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Or do we see it as a liberating breath that puts all of our possessions in their proper perspective? Perhaps we need to change our answer from, “’I’ll follow Jesus, but first’…to ‘I’ll follow Jesus and see what happens.’” Does not the second answer feel like a greater freedom? Trust is what is needed to make that first step. My first step sometimes is close to dipping the toe in the water to see how cold it is!
    I feel it’s challenging for us who must live in the everyday world to relate our feelings to those of a person like Nouwen whose lifestyle and freedom are so completely different from mine. I just can’t get on a plane and travel across the continent or ocean to visit a friend or to change jobs (when I worked) when I tired of the routine.
    One thing that caused me to do something differently was the idea of truly personal contact. A good friend is undergoing treatment for the same cancer that Sen. McCain has. He asked for an oncologist in the Washington, DC area. I had gotten the name by e-mail, and was going to forward it to him, but Nouwen’s discussion of the need for that personal touch made me reach for my pen and a nice thinking of you card. I told him of Nouwen’s thoughts and told him that he was being held in my heart.

    • Liz Forest says:

      Your heartfelt note to your friend shows love more than a quick email. Someone said, “Home is where the Heart is,” which reveals that our Holy Spirit resides were we are and that makes the place home. Having a listening ear of the heart is a ministry just as much as being on staff at L’Arche.

  7. Patrice Cerwonka says:

    For me Question 3 is so important. We are called to stay in the place God has placed us. For me that is working everyday to stay true to my vocations of marriage and to my vocation as a parent. God has guided me there and I feel wants me to stay true to this despite the challenges. Some days being single and running off to be a missionary seems so much more appealing. 🙂

    In another way, 7 years ago when I took my current job I was willing to work any schedule but was firm on the fact that I needed Friday mornings be off so that I could continue to participate as a leader in my parish Women’s faith formation group. It was hard to think that I might lose the job that seems so perfect but I was willing to take the chance.

    • Linda C. says:

      Dear Patrice, I am single and have run off several times to be a missionary in foreign lands. However, God has always called me back to stay in the place he has placed me. This has made all the difference in my life and filled me with great joy.

  8. Ray Glennon says:

    Friends,
    It’s a joy to read each of your comments. Through your willingness to share your insights and personal stories we all gain a deeper appreciation of Henri’s words. Based on many of the comments this week, I think it’s fair to say that we have come together because of the life of Henri Nouwen and we have gathered in Jesus’ name. Thank you for joining and building up our Lenten virtual community.

    As I mentioned briefly last week, I’m facing a significant career transition in the next six to eight weeks after struggling with a difficult work situation for quite some time. Several of the Henri’s entries this week were particularly meaningful to me; in fact, they were an valuable resource during an important and fruitful discussion with my wife Dawn last Saturday.
    –A New Beginning (p 7): Henri decided that keeping a journal would help him answer the question, “How do I follow Jesus all the way.” Similarly, I was prompted to start a journal about a week before this discussion began and the journal was another key resource in the discussion with Dawn.
    –Leaving Harvard (p 22): Henri’s opening paragraph is directly related to my pending transition. In this case, I will be leaving a full-time position to (hopefully) work part-time and enter semi-retirement, but at a materially reduced income. Henri writes, “Finally, I realized that my increasing inner darkness…and my deep sense of not belonging were clear signs that I was not following God’s spirit. The fruits of the spirit are not sadness, loneliness, and separation, but joy, solitude, and community.” This provided powerful confirmation to my ongoing discernment and directly contributed to the discussion with Dawn.
    –The Heart (p 47): For quite some time, and especially in the past few months of this job-related discernment, I have been confronted with, and resistant to, the need to place my complete trust in Jesus. During the Advent book discussion of Love, Henri, I cited an excerpt from one of Henri’s letters, “I am quite certain that leaving your job would require some real risk-taking, and it might put you into a situation of uncertainty, but it seems to be always important to first of all pay attention to the voice of your heart and trust that God will reward you when you are faithful to that voice.” In this reading Henri describes powerful insights about trust that I needed to hear: “What is the heart? It is the place of trust, a trust that can be called faith, hope, or love…Père Thomas sees the trusting heart as the most important characteristic of the human person. It is not so much the ability to think, to reflect, to plan, or to produce that makes us different from the rest of creation, but the ability to trust.”

    My Lenten prayer is that as I journey through this career transition that I may trust in Jesus knowing that He is with me every step of the way.

    Peace and all good.
    Ray

    • Marge says:

      Thank you, Ray, and to all those sharing so honestly….willing to “see and be seen” p. 17…..you all, along with Henri give me courage to continue to watch/pray/write/participate “to take my true place in God’s work of salvation” p. 16, in whatever form that has taken, is taking, will take………Trustingly…..Truthfully…..Thankfully…..

    • Liz Forest says:

      What is the heart? It is the place of trust, a trust that can be called faith, hope, or love…Père Thomas sees the trusting heart as the most important characteristic of the human person. It is not so much the ability to think, to reflect, to plan, or to produce that makes us different from the rest of creation, but the ability to trust.”
      This text spoke to me because it is easy for me to be “in the head” rather than act “from the heart”. Some would relate heart to soul because once the heart stops our life ebbs away. For those like me who tend to “think things through,
      plan ahead, and get results” and don’t make room for trust, I pray for a change of heart: a third pair of eyes to see God’s providential love every step of my way.

  9. Penny Warne says:

    How can the name of Jesus “become my house, my dwelling place, my refuge, my ark”? What do you think that means?
    The old saying “Home is where the heart is” comes to mind with this question. If I love the lord in my heart then I am home no matter where I am. But I have to learn to love the Lord in my heart, not just my head. Jesus is the anchor that I hook onto

    What does the Bible say about the name of Jesus? I read this morning that there are many names for Jesus beyond Jesus and each of these names describes the person whom you need at any point in your pilgrimage.
    c. How does living in the name of Jesus reveal God to others? As St. Francis said, “ Preach the Gospel at all times and use words is necessary.” If we live in the name of Jesus, truly, then people see the Lord in everything that we do.

    Are you free enough to follow Jesus? I want to be and I set my mind to it each day. Just seeking God means that you have found him. But how do I go deeper?
    If we aren’t currently free enough to follow Jesus, what can we do? What might we pray? What would be a first step? Learning to listen with the ears of my heart – what is my heart’s desire and does that match what the Lord desires for me?

    Are you called to “stay”? In a way I am called to do both, I think. I am called to stay in my marriage and this then calls me to possibly leave California for at least a period of time each year. But as I said earlier, home is where the heart is and my heart is with my family and they are far from my house in California. More discernment is necessary as I am not sure which way the Lord is calling me.

  10. Todd says:

    3) We often think about following Jesus as leaving everything behind and doing something new, but Henri reminds us that it can be just as hard to follow Jesus by “staying home,” by staying where God has put you and being faithful there (p46).
    a) Are you called to “stay”?

    I am a husband of 26 years and father to 2 teenagers. I am called to be faithful to these special people in my life…. even when it is not easy, fun, convenient or appealing. Family life is hard work. Looking back, I can see the graces that God has bestowed on us but it is rarely apparent in the day to day living.

    b) What does it look like for you to live in the name of Jesus where you are right now?

    A priest once told me my vocation was family as God had blessed me with a spouse and children. It helps me to reflect and pray upon this vocation and the fact that many of the daily tasks we do (going to work, cleaning the house, grocery shopping and preparing meals, caring for sick children/spouse, attending meetings, events, conferences, etc…. ) are done in the name of Jesus and offered up to Him. Bless us Lord, and thank you for your blessings. Help us to stay the course. Family…. the Domestic Church.

  11. Gretchen Saari says:

    Thanks for this question about “in the Name of Jesus”. In the past, I have recoiled when I hear the phrase in “the name of Jesus.” I think I recoil because I hear it like someone is asking me to put a tag on a package that is really very secular and self-willed.

    I read Acts 4 and Psalm 118. As in Psalm 118, I see that I easily fall into trusting “the builders” of this day and age. It is my heart, to find refuge, strength and salvation in who Jesus is. I feel that I will be given “great boldness” as I am empowered, as I trust the cornerstone.

    Then I read a list of passages in the Bible referring to the name of Jesus. Being over-whelmed, I went back to Henri’s words, “where many vulnerable men and women who are threatened by the judgmental and violent world.” For me, if I am living in the name of Jesus, I will be living without judgement or violence. In his meditations, Henri identifies commonplace acts of violence and intimates that he is subject to these inclinations. It comes to me, not to hide behind the name of Jesus, but to dwell in my mind and heart in his name.

    I joined this Lenten Study precisely because Henri Nouwen was open. He allowed himself to be vulnerable. His trust in God’s mercy reveals God’s mercy to me.

    Aa for the rich man, I always took this story as a rebuke. Until this week I never understood the love in the story. Now I hear the phrase, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, as a lament, not a rebuke. I have lost a lot in my life. In the loss I have experienced, how I cling to what I deemed to be riches! I am seldom “ready” to give up my riches on my own. I accept the struggle. It involves accepting my own weakness more than deliberate sacrifice. Weakness opens my being to Jesus. I need to accept His love.

    I answered question 2 before I read question 3. I re- read the story of Vanier’s mother. I choked up. I feel intense emotion. Yes, I understand the question and the experience.

    I am going to answer this last question this morning without going back to the book. I remember the description of the people washing and bathing those who were so unresponsive. I volunteered in a Sunday school class where they brought a boy who was like those residents. It was easy for a few minutes to be compassionate but then it was like working out, the effort to stay with the boy took mental and emotional effort like a work-out takes endurance. I was awed by the endurance of the volunteers in that room. I need to be enduring. I pray for endurance. I pray that I grow in endurance. I am so good at flitting around like a bird and not at plodding uphill like workhorses do.

    So…..I will not look at other responses before I send this, in the interest of the admonition from our moderators!

    PS I live in Everett, WA. Everett is about 30 miles north of Seattle.

  12. Marianne says:

    Proverbs 10:18
    The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and they are saved.

    This is my favourite scripture about the name of the Lord.

  13. Catherine says:

    Good day (or night) everyone.
    I asked Father for a watch word or phrase for this year and what he gave me was “Take your time.” I have been a person who wants to pack as much into life as I can, and I have often found myself in a hurry, like I don’t have enough time in the day and have often said, “there is not enough time in the day to get done everything that I need to get done.” I think that it would be more honest to say “want” instead of “need.”
    So when I came to this week’s reading prompts after reading number 1 “In his name I am called to live. His name has to become my house, my dwelling place, my refuge, my Ark. His name has to start telling the story of being born, growing up, growing old, and dying – revealing a God who loved us so much that he sent his only child to us” and the questions, I believe that by the prompting of the Spirit, I needed to just stop, go to page 9 in the book and not to read the rest of the prompts.
    What happened next pleasantly surprised me as I started to sing, “Jesus Name above all Names beautiful Savior, glorious LORD. Emmanuel, God is with us, Blessed Redeemer, Living Word. Emmanuel, Emmanuel, His Name is called Emmanuel….God with us. Revealed in us. His Name is called Emmanuel.” And there I was dwelling in His presence.
    I need to take shelter in His Name. And cry out His Name. Jesus, Jesus! And continue to learn to Abide and Rest in Him, get into the Ark and know that I am safe.

    • Liz Forest says:

      Get into the Ark or go to the back of the boat and see that Jesus is there in the midst of the storm. His Presence real and his power will make the wind and waves obey. I love these visuals which help to remind me of the promises of God.

      • Catherine says:

        Thanks Liz. I am just getting back here. Breathing in the breath of God. Knowing that He is calling me to do just that go to the back of the Ark and bask in His Presence, that is with Jesus. I write that as we in the Northeast are in the midst of a storm. (I hate when they call it a Nor’easter and it is not snowing. Here it isn’t yet….)

  14. Jo says:

    Page 16

    “I feel like praying tonight that my life might become simple enough for me to be
    able to say “yes” when Jesus looks at me with love and invites me to leave
    everything behind and follow him.
    Missing that moment would not only sadden Jesus and me but would, in a way,
    also be a refusal to take in God’s work of salvation.”

    “Leave Everything behind and follow him” speaks to me personally…leave all
    the standards/cultural expectations and follow him.
    If I don’t do that it would break His heart and mine because an enormous
    amount of grace would be lost in saving souls. Is my “yes” to Jesus not intertwined with the salvation of souls? Of course it is!
    The message of Fatima is about offering our sacrifices for
    the salvation of souls.
    Jacinta, 10 years old, was offered heaven but she declined because Our Lady
    said if she stayed awhile longer on earth offering her pain many souls would
    be saved and Jacinta Chose to remain on earth longer and suffer so that
    more people would be saved. 10 years old!
    And I think of that when those I love suffer or when I suffer. It’s not pointless
    or worthless but full of value for others.
    We don’t have the comforts of the culture but we have the opportunity to work
    along with Jesus for lost souls and what’s better than that!

  15. Cherine Elsayed says:

    How can the name of Jesus “become my house, my dwelling place, my refuge, my ark”? What do you think that means?

    I am very connected to Jesus Name, for I was literally a stranger in this life, I belonged to no country, no close father, mother, siblings, late husband… All these encounters were passing by… meant my destiny that they are passing by very quick… long story but my root to life and my hanging to life was some one called Jesus who even nor me or my so called earthly family belonged to Him… But I found Him or He Found Me for He made it that He be found by me… Amazing Grace I really can say that He is the reason for my existence for I belong to no one but Him..From one country to the next as a little girl, my ears was opened into Christ Spirit..an invitation to a stranger to search for Him…He has been my home, my dwelling place for more than 3o years as we humbly finish our days seeking more His Radiant Light and Glory to His Name, Glory to The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost.. Amen

  16. Renee says:

    Good morning. I promised myself that I would at least try to be honest in my postings. I am really struggling with the call to l’Arche because of the severity of disability described. Here in Malawi, I have witnessed much disability particularly at the college Child Development Center where there are so many children impacted by seizure disorders resulting from cerebral malaria. Most can not even hold their heads up. The caregiver burden is heavy and often falls on the grandmothers. For me, it is hard to see God’s plan in this.
    Moving on, this week I was struck by 2 themes represented by the rich man and staying home. I’m quite rich not necessarily in dollars but certainly in opportunity, education, friends and family. I get to be at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy and am surrounded by Malawians who never make it past subsistence level. Consequently, I feel guilty for my riches and keep searching for the big gesture to save the world. This is my 2nd time serving in the Peace Corps in Africa. I was young and distracted the first time (35 years ago) but this time I really thought I had something to offer now that I am old and wise. Leaving home to serve was so much more exciting than staying put and feeling apathetic. So why am I still experiencing the same internal conversation – what is the point, why am I here, etc, etc. Did I come here for God or for me? Half way in I’m starting to see that maybe I’m supposed to be receiving, learning, growing. No answers, only questions. I’m glad that Lent is 40 days. thanks for listening.

    • Gretchen Saari says:

      Listening to you encouraged me. I have not packed up and gone anywhere but I keep asking the questions, “Am I doing this for God or for me?” Thank-you
      Gretchen

      • Renee Latimer says:

        Thank you for reading my post Gretchen. I guess each of us has to figure out the what and where of our call through listening to God in whatever way he speaks to us. I think I expected to feel joyful and useful all the time but of course that was an unrealistic expectation. The blessings of this experience are not the ones I expected!
        Peace to you.

  17. Lynn R says:

    Psalm 23 “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” He promises us, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you”(John 15;14). We have a “God hole” within us that only He can fill. We can find no true comfort from things of this world but only when our focus remains firmly planted on Jesus will our spiritual journey bring us the happiness and joy promised in the Beatitudes.
    There is power in the name of Jesus…Satan & demons are cast out in His name, people are healed in His name, Salvation comes in His name, but praying in His name can have an incredible return to us. We have been given His name and when we use it, we confess that Jesus is mine and that I am His in return. To ask in His name is to do so as He would, in a a spirit of submission to the will of the Father.

    In a world of many distractions and much “busyness” at work and home, it can often seem difficult to find the time to focus on Jesus. We are too busy trying to control all that goes on around us. I have only of late while totally overwhelmed at work learned that taking time to pray and truly live, “Jesus I trust in you” and asking for the strength to endure. that I find peace. Without my control, things just seem to work out. I don’t believe in coincidence–that is the power of prayer in Jesus name and submitting myself to the will of God.

  18. Maureen M. says:

    Lent is my greatest opportunity to ask whether or not I am free enough to follow Jesus. I think back to Sunday’s Gospel as Mark writes that the Spirit drew Jesus into the wilderness, where he encountered Satan, wild animals and angels. While testing is year round, I consciously step into the wilderness during this season as I strive to make changes in my life to simplify and to remove distractions in order to focus on my relationship with God and others. In addition to taking away, I’m adding more time for prayer as I ask God to form me, to reveal my strengths and weaknesses and to show me where I am to go from here. With trust and humility, I am grateful for this time in the desert. It’s just what my soul needs.

  19. Liz Forest says:

    I recall two passages that speak about “Home” 1) “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” (Ephesians 3,17-19)
    2) “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14,23)
    Being at home in the love of God, trusting in the One who promised abundant life assures me of peace. When Henri compared himself to St. Francis Xavier(p.23) he saw that the academic life they both pursued turned out to be a stepping stone towards a new mission. Instead of the competative life at university he moved into a compassionate role.
    I found myself in like situation after years in education. The need to let go and live freely my Christian life, I left teaching for a new path in the publishing world.
    Stepping stones for me and ways to BE at home in the love of God in a deeper way.
    When Henri felt deep hurt that his friend Jonas did not visit him while in France, he had to let go of the attachment to this person and had “to take this event and use it to be more forgotten, passed over…Why? because you will have new eyes to see yourself, your world, and God. “People cannot give you new eyes; only the One who loves you without limits.” (P.24)
    This reminds me about the need for space, even between dear friends. Rather than being possessive, giving the other room to bloom. In a recent email excerpt from
    “Bread for the Journey” Henri says, “we are inclined to cling to the person who offers us love, affection, friendship, care, or support. Once we have seen or felt a hint of love, we want more of it. That explains why lovers so often bicker with each other. Lovers’ quarrels are quarrels between people who want more of each other than they are able or willing to give. It is very hard for love not to become possessive because our hearts look for perfect love and no human being is capable of that. Only God can offer perfect love. …the art of loving includes the art of giving one another space. When we invade one another’s space and do not allow the other to be his or her own free person, we cause great suffering in our relationships. But when we give another space to move and share our gifts, true intimacy becomes possible.”
    How true his words!

  20. Deb Gustafson says:

    February 23, 2018
    On page 46, Nouwen says, “It struck me that selling what you own, leaving your family and friends, and following Jesus is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. You must do it many times and in many different ways. And it certainly does not become easier.”
    Doing it many times and in many different ways resonated with me as I was rereading this section this morning. I always thought of following Jesus as a “one-time decision-making event.” As I look back and reflect upon my life and the decision that I have made to follow Jesus has been both extremely difficult at times and simply the only choice at certain times in my life. I used to think that I had to be out doing and accomplishing big things for Christ, but as I grow older and somewhat wiser, I realize that “staying home” and being in the presence of God is what I am called to do in this season of my journey with Jesus.

  21. Marge says:

    It’s early morning in central IL…..truly…..Several hours before daybreak!

    But, something deeper is going on…I seem to be more aware of new movement…when I began this read for a 2nd time, I felt attuned to “what voices are gaining strength”, and I wonder when Henri writes, “Without a Harvard there probably would not have been a L’Arche for me either.” p. 24 I wonder why that caught my attention because I have no formal education beyond H.S., average intelligence…but what are the “Harvards’” of my life, that I refuse to let go of……just as the rich man could not let go of his $? In many respects, I’ve “stayed home”, content…..ah, I put high value on contentment! I wonder….?

    Gregg Levy makes this statement, “Calls are essentially questions. They aren’t questions you necessarily need to answer outright; they are questions to which you need to respond , expose yourself , and kneel before. “

    Daybreak comes slowly….grateful for a new day.

    • Liz Forest says:

      Dawn breaks into daylight and I am reminded, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3,23
      To me this rising of the sun each day is a testament the steadfast love of the LORD which never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning as the dawn light breaks in.

  22. Ray Glennon says:

    From Jo
    I finally located Henri’s book for the discussion and am looking forward to
    participating. Right now I’m reading another book of his which has me
    deepening my knowledge and thoughts on life.

    Onward….from Ontario, Canada

  23. Linda C. says:

    When I was a Rector at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, my hall would entertain the local L’Arche Community on a monthly basis with mass and a social gathering. As I read the stories from Henri, I remember all the joy this community brought me. I can picture the times when we would act out scripture together. Their innocence and love of the Lord touched me deeply. I do miss them. In the words of Henri, “Being at L’Arche means many things, but one of them is a call to a greater purity of heart. Indeed, Jesus speaks through the broken hearts of the handicapped, who are considered marginal and useless. But God has chosen them to be the poor through whom he makes his presence known”. God has chosen the imprisoned women I visit weekly to make his presence known to me. I feel called like Henri to a greater purity of heart.

  24. Maureen D says:

    After a financial services career, I found myself abruptly “at home.” While I can’t claim a decision to go home, I was able to care for my mom until she passed away. I view it now as having been “called to stay.” I’m always grateful that caring for her taught me to be, rather than do. It took a while to decompress from the Wall Street rhythm that set the pace of my life, but having done so, I know I will never rejoin the doers. I hope to serve those who need love and company. I am currently training to join a ministry that keeps spiritual company with those in need.

    • Catherine says:

      Maureen, “keeps spiritual company with those in need.” What a beautiful goal for a ministry. May God bless you as you go.

  25. Mike Van Cleve says:

    We often think about following Jesus as leaving everything behind and doing something new, but Henri reminds us that it can be just as hard to follow Jesus by “staying home,” by staying where God has put you and being faithful there (p46).
    This means a great deal to me as I have been in the same parish for 17 years. Usually we are transferred out after about 4 years. I have enjoyed being in the same parish as a chance to dig deeper into the lives of the people

  26. Susan DeLong says:

    Today I have a quiet morning to myself, so I have been reading what the Bible has to say about the name of Jesus as suggested in Question #1.
    In Matthew 18, Jesus’ disciples are wondering who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus calls a little child and tells them they must become humble like this child and then Jesus says, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
    In Psalm 139 the psalmist says to the Lord, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
    Lately I have been mindful that each person is precious to God. I’m reminding myself that not only am I precious, but the other person is precious too.
    That helps me to listen to the Holy Spirit living in me. John 14 says: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said.”
    I find that when I live my daily life from that place of knowing that God made me and loves me and that God also made and loves each person I meet, I treat people more lovingly.
    Yesterday I got a fraudulent phone call. I was able to forcefully challenge the caller while still speaking respectfully. After phoning the authority I needed to call to report the phone call, I settled down, and thought about the person who made the call. I was able to see him as someone who God was pursuing in love. What the man was doing was dishonest, but the man himself was precious to God. I could lift him up to God in prayer and receive the peace that Jesus promises us in John 14.
    Colossians 3 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” When I pay attention to this verse, I make the name of Jesus my home, my dwelling place. It is my reference point and my stance as I go about my daily life. In Christ there are no “them” and “us” divisions. I can be patient with the person in my church who doesn’t like Henri Nouwen because he’s Catholic. And I can feel welcomed in a Catholic mass when I go up for a blessing instead of a communion wafer. In the past, I felt irritated in both of these situations but not today.

  27. Ray Glennon says:

    From Melanie Norcutt
    Hello from Vancouver Island.
    I read the daily emails from the Henri Nouwen Society and participated in the advent discussions this past December for the first time. I am very much looking forward to sharing this time with you!

  28. Marge says:

    On my way to reading Nouwen’s thoughts/personal reflection on the rich man’s refusal, I read “Danny’s Prayer” p. 11…..powerful intro. for me….”I love you, Jesus. I do not reject you even when I get nervous once in a while……even when I get confused.” What a new, personal, lifegiving thought…I can attest to my own nervousness, confusion and how that serves as a block….but a rejection? Yes, and then to move on to refusal….”to take my true place in God’s work of salvation”. Oh my goodness, actually not mine, but God’s goodness! So grateful Jesus looked and loved the rich man no matter response…might I be able to say “yes” to Jesus’ love for me, for others and my love for Jesus, for others……wonder what that looks like in the daily? Watching…..Praying…

  29. Cheryl Dalton says:

    I am an ‘old fashioned’ reader who enjoys underlining, highlighting, and taking notes in margins of good books. Henri’s journal entries in this book have been so rich and full of inspiration and spiritual truths that I find I am underlining almost every other line!
    Two parts stand out to me for this reflection. The first is the story of the rich young man: it is just as hard to follow Jesus by ‘staying home’, being faithful where God has put you. This speaks loudly to my heart, staying home as my husband and I care for his mother who has dementia and who is becoming more and more frail. It is easier for me to get very involved in work projects, mission trips, student events than it is to stay home, being present with her, no activity other than she likes having the TV on and we spend hours, just being with her. The story that stands out to me is the story of Madame Vanier and her decision to live at L’Arch with her son. Henri writes that ‘staying home now at 87 had become as hard for her as leaving home at 73″. Reading this opened my heart to see my 88 year old mother in law with more compassion. This time in HER life is hard, her body no longer strong, her mind fading as old memories seem like new memories and new memories are no long being made. I pray that I can see her with the eyes of Jesus, loving her as she is now, not only as she was previously. Henri’s words are so encouraging to me, strengthening me in my new role, ‘staying home’ and being faithful here.

    • Gretchen Saari says:

      I can picture you with your mother – it reminds me of my sister who lives far away. She has dementia also. I feel the loss she experiences. She is gracious about it all, but it hurts me when I call her because she struggles for words. I also volunteered on a hospital unit where there were many dementia patients. Being with the patients and seeing the deep love of their families taught me about love.

  30. Sharon says:

    So many good words and insights from Henri. If Jesus is our home then I am thinking “staying home” is just where we are meant to be:) I guess it is how comfortable are you in that place. How secure do I feel when I am staying at home in Jesus? How accepted do I feel when I am staying home? Do I need to go and “do”? Or do I just need to “be” at home and comfortable resting in Jesus where my identity is most secure. I know that when I spend time being with Jesus I am my true self. And I think how Jesus spent time alone with His father just being quiet praying. The more I stay home and move through my day with Jesus included I experience more of life and a fulness that brings me a calmness and peace that I can bring into my relationships. When I receive the loving acceptance of Christ for me than I take that with me more easily. I so appreciated the words on page 19 that Henri shares about the handicapped “Often they are capable of unmasking our impatience, irritation, jealousy, and lack of interest and making us honest with ourselves. For them what really counts is a true relationship, a real friendship, a faithful presence….Thus they often reveal to us our own hypocrisies and invite us always to greater sincerity and purer love.” I have found that to be true and freeing and Henri’s shares his insight so eloquently. Enjoying this book:)

  31. chuck popeney says:

    my prayers try to include in Jesus’s name.In Jesus’s name i ask for healing and forgiveness.living in the name of Jesus reveals my union with God in all things. the impossible can become possible. i had to detach enough from the ego, material, power, pleasure , and honor to be free enough to follow Jesus. i prayed for these detachments in jesus name.my first step was to come to the realization that you cannot serve two Gods. i know i am on the right track when i give glory to God/gratitude to God throughout the day .this is definitely an ongoing journey with its challenges.i have been called to stay. it took adaptive skills that were provided by grace. i certainly had to be detached and willing to have my innermost desires met by God.i couldn’t stay if my willingness for pleasure and power were my innermost desire.The gifts and insights Henri received from the persons with IDD ring true to me. you are able to be gift when you due unilateral selfless acts. when you provide all the activities of daily living to the disabled ( bath, dress, toileting,feeding, etc) you are truly lifting them on your shoulders . if we could do all of this in Jesus’s name we will be praying without ceasing. with our disabled love one/ neighbor we have the two or more in this prayer so God is with us. it becomes possible. it is prayer not work. it is Mathew 25 you did it for me.

  32. Jeffrey Dean says:

    I am free enough to follow Jesus. The where part is the issue. I have volunteered in many places including summer mission trips. I have done well with urban ministries, but do not consider that a long term option. I am looking at ministry in mental institutions at this time. I have at one time or another been homeless or in an institution.

    Faithful, Available, and Teachable,

    Jeffrey Dean

    • Gretchen Saari says:

      Hi Jeffrey! My wonderful son spent time as a homeless person. I believe you are needed to volunteer and share your gifts.

  33. Patty Olstad says:

    I echo David Brown’s comment on relationship. Relationships are hard and I have the most difficult time to spiritually discern if I should “stay” or “leave” a relationship. I can pray and pray, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and still don’t know what I should do. I adopt phrases like “to live for the moment” – not to worry about the future, as that is God’s territory; or “follow the heart” – it just doesn’t give me a concrete sense of what I should do.

    I have been dating a college professor, a Christian man, for 18 months. He’s 62, has been divorced for three years and would not commit to any serious relationship. In his mind, church is for families but not for people who want to be single. Not only wouldn’t he commit, he would date or be sexually active with multiple people at the same time if it’s consensual. The sad thing is I love him very much. During our “friendship”, I was severely depressed and hung on to Henri’s books like the Bible. Henri helps me understand the complexity of love, pain and compassion.

    We are all broken in some shape or form. I suspected my friend has some mental issue as he does not seem to understand the hurt and pain he’s causing the ones who are close to him. I looked online and found a condition called Alexithymia, inability to feel emotion. I had him take the test and as expected, he scored very high on it. So I found him a label for him but does it help in our relationship? (BTW, no matter how intimate as a couple in church, he insists we are not in a relationship. We are just friends.)

    When I read the part about Henri and friends apple picking, I sighed. The handicapped people process things differently but they will get there eventually. Yes, the extra time teaches us patience but how long and how often can we tolerate? And for the mentally ill, I don’t know if the extra time will change anything.

    With my friend, it’s painful either way, whether I “stay” or “leave”. As of today, I am still asking God to give me guidance on what to do. How do I follow Jesus in this case?

    • David Brown says:

      I wish I had an answer.Nouwen had a great need for affection and a sense of permanence in friendship which He did not really experience because of priesthood and celibacy, because of his loyalty to the church and his Priesthood vows.. One time he had a temporary breakdown in which He asked to be held by the therapist because of a loss of a deep friendship.
      Yet he did recover. He seemed to have the insight that only God, who He considered ones only true”First Love” could provide the full intimacy He sought. No person could provide for all his needs.he also came to the conclusion God was his only true lasting Home.(“In the Name of Jesus”) I have found it problematic to live in a relationship with a dear friend or spouse when a full commitment to God and the church is not agreed upon including church affilation, ethical perspectives etc. a Nouwen sense which was always accepting of difference but also deeply rooted in Jesus and his way. peace in your journey, David

      • Patty Olstad says:

        Thanks for the note. Yes, I was constantly reminded that we should always marry or date someone with equal yoke. Going to church doesn’t make him a Christ follower, although how can we help or judge his thoughts or behaviors when he cannot feel or understand emotions the way we do? I feel sorry for him. I don’t think he’s capable of giving or receiving love, including God’s love, that’s why he’s wandering. I have prayed for a very long time that He will receive God’s love but can he, in his mental state? Are the mentally ill people condemned because of the way they are wired?

        I like your last sentence of accepting differences deeply rooted in Jesus and his way. This morning I got a tune in my head “forgive, forgive, forgive”. I know the Holy Spirit is calling me to forgive him for the hurt and pain he caused me. Only then, the healing begins. I think I will learn to love him from a distance.

        Patty

  34. David Brown says:

    I have always in my heart loved Jesus having been raised in the church since childhood. It was natural to dedicate my life to following Him.( Church membership, Bible study, preparing for Pastoral ministry etc.) But I have not always been able to clearly understand what it meant to follow Jesus in a particular situation or issue. Relationships and life events can cause one to question what to do. Failure and sin in ones personal life is also something that clouds our ability to understand and follow Jesus. The lack of intamacy or being rejected on occasion,like Nouwen experienced also clouds what it means to follow Jesus. I have found the Sacarament of reconcilation and spiritual guidance helpful. also remembering Nouwens center “We are Beloved, We are wounded healers, we are chosen,broken and given second chances by a loving God, Our first Love as Nouwen would say.. this helps in the journey to keep following Jesus even with our human propensity to fill lost or broken.

  35. Mike Van Cleve says:

    a) Are you free enough to follow Jesus? That seems a very important question. I think I do follow Jesus sometimes better then others. I feel I am kind and thoughtful but pleasure and people pleasing get in the way.

  36. Hello All,

    I missed the introductions last week, but catching up, I feel blessed to journey together in Lent with fellow-traveler’s drawing closer to God. Henri Nouwen is my ‘patron saint,’ and his life calls me to desend deeper into the heart of Jesus to find true home.

    I have lived in Louisville for the past several years but come from Boston. Currently, I’m in a process of discerning a converging vocational call which could include a geographical move. To Henri’s point on page 20: “I feel a tension within me. I have only a limited number of years left for active ministry. Why not use them well?” Henri goes on to point out that God is in no hurry. I wish I had his patience. I feel in a hurry but at the same time called to sit still, listen and be seen so that I can see.

    Being seen by Jesus and others resonnates with me because I’m in a Spiritual Direction class and we just completed a unit on contemplative seeing. Seeing Jesus and being seen by Him seems to lie at the heart of discernment. Again Henri’s question and remarks (p 17-18) illumine: “Do I want to be seen by Jesus?… I will be seen when I am willing to be seen…I will receive new eyes that can see…when I allow God to see me…even those parts that I myself do not want to see.” So Henri’s seeings invite me to a prayer: Lord Jesus, help me hold still and see you seeing me. From that place of your holding power give me patience to wait and trust that you will open my eyes to see the Way you have for me.
    Amen.

    • Marianne says:

      I also was struck by the idea, “Do I want to be seen or known by Jesus?” It’s easy to go on in life and pretend that Jesus can’t see or hear us yet we know that God is omnipresent (everywhere) and omniscient(knows all things.) Henri goes on to say, “If I do, then a faith can grow which proclaims Jesus as the Son of God. Only such a faith can open my eyes and reveal an open heaven.”

      The other thing that struck me is the “useless prayer” idea. P. 30. “What is really happening in the house of prayer is not measurable in terms of human success and failure. ” and “The question as sto whether it is helpful, useful, practical or fruitful is completely irrelevant, since the only reason to love is love itself.” So many day to day things try to push out the spiritual or “heart work”. We don’t have to be perfect at prayer to make time for it and to practice it.

  37. Marge says:

    I was tempted to skip over Jesus’ Name as house, dwelling place, refuge, ark….then I remembered a time when I felt so vulnerable…something coming at me that I couldn’t name….so with blanket physically pulled over my head, and repeating the Name of Jesus over and over again…thus, calling out….for protection, deliverance….yes, ARK!

    Now, as Henry writes, “In his name I am called to live” another word surfaces for me….abide. In another writing I read that the Hebrew and Greek words for abide can also be “remain”, “lodge”, “dwell”…images that evoke a peaceful, confident, and enduring relationship with God……Source “Why Do We Hope” by Daniel J. Harrington

    Choosing to abide, in the Name of Jesus also becomes Anchor for me in the sea of life, living…..what a good place to start, and to think I almost missed “the boat” so to speak! “In his name I am called to live” too….thank you…..

    • Marge,

      I love your image in the first paragraph: “I was tempted to skip over Jesus name as a house…an ark.” I resonnate with “in the name of Jesus also becomes an Anchor.” What a beautiful realization that Jesus is both the boat and the buoy.

  38. Catherine says:

    Hello Fellow Travelers,
    I am late to the conversation as well. Currently, I live in New England in the North East of the US with my husband and elderly mother. Growing up in the greater Boston area, where there is a large concentration of Catholics I was one of them. I left the faith after leaving home at 19. Jesus invaded my life and my heart when I was 21. I have been walking with Jesus, sometimes stumbling to follow Him, and at times falling down needing to be carried by Him along with sisters and brothers assisting at times.
    My spiritual journey has varied. We belong to a small missional Soma Family church and it is great to continue to be invited and challenged more than 30 years into my pilgrim journey.
    My husband and I are caring for my mother who has Alzheimer’s. I could not imagine having the willingness nor the strength to do that apart from the power of the Holy Spirit.
    Interestingly enough, our oldest daughter introduced us to Henri Nouwen after she read some of his work at Dutch L’abri. I have read a number of his books. This is I believe my third discussion to join but I have not been very active online. Always reading, but not doing too much to contribute to the conversation. I hope to change that this time around.
    The past 12 months, I have experienced multiple losses. Caregiving is natural to my husband who is an RN and not so natural to me, a tinker of sorts. I am seeing a therapist who has encouraged me to ask Papa (Heavenly Father) “what is next?” while continuing to live in the present. In reading Henri’s prayer, “Lord, show me where you want me to go, and I will follow.” the Holy Spirit is giving me the gentle nudge to keep reading. Jesus is giving me glimpses of where he is leading me during my very much live in the day, in the moment sometimes life.
    I look forward to this week’s readings and having conversation around those here online.

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Catherine,
      Welcome back! And it’s great to have one of those that have journeyed with us in silence share in the online conversation.

      Your comment presents a fine opportunity to remind everyone that whether you share or not, we are all blessed by your presence on this journey. And if you do feel prompted to share, your “…comment doesn’t have to be perfect, profound or polished…We just want to hear what God is speaking to your heart” as noted in the post above.

      Peace and all good.
      Ray

  39. Marie Hardiment says:

    My introduction to the writings of Henri Nouwen was through a death of a friend and a written piece by Henri called Smiles Breaking Through Tears, that she had arrange to be read at her funeral. I researched the author and now receive the daily posts through the website. I found them most timely and thought provoking yet calming. Six months from that initial introduction to Henri, I started reading The Road to Daybreak. Thankfully, I have pushed myself to join the discussion as this is not my comfort zone.
    I have been a caregiver my entire life, personally and professionally in Nursing.
    I now am walking with my spouse of 41 years as he makes his final journey home to Jesus. The initial chapters resonate with me as I see Henri saying goodbye to his previous life and venturing and trusting as he is exactly where he needs to be. Yet this trust is not without question. My spouse and I are at that time in our lives, soon to go our separate ways as he returns home to Jesus. I am honoured to be with him during this very special and bitter sweet time of ones life, yet wonder how I will manage without him. The writings of Henri in The Road to Daybreak are a comfort and I read to him daily. I believe we are all spiritual beings having a human experience, as events in our lives draw us closer to the Lord. I am thankful and grateful I have found the support through Henri Nouwen’s writings and look foreword to this Lenten discussion.
    Blessings of Christ be with you all.
    Marie

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Welcome Marie.
      Thank you for joining us this Lent. May the Lord be with you and give you peace on your journey of love and accompaniment with your husband.
      Blessings,
      Ray

    • Cheryl Dalton says:

      Thank you for the reference to “Smiles Breaking Through Tears”. I have not seen this before, very beautiful!.

    • Gretchen Saari says:

      I am here because of the daily meditations also. I would say that they anchor me, but really it is Jesus speaking, not the meditations, isn’t it? I will hold to your phrase, “we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” I have thought of the reverse, that as humans we are utterly fragile. I remind myself to remember that. I will now remember to be thankful for the spiritual beings here and no longer here on earth.

  40. Ray Glennon says:

    From Elizabeth
    I live in the Mid-Atlantic area and attend an Anglican church (Anglican Church in North America). Jesus’ command to “follow me” struck me deeply a couple of weeks ago and I was jolted today to read the prologue sentence (page 5) by Henri, “What binds them together in their wide variety is the spiritual struggle to say ‘yes’ to Jesus’ invitation ‘Come and follow me.’ It is a screaming and kicking ‘yes’ that fills these pages.”

  41. Bridget says:

    Thank you for this opportunity to share Henri’s wisdom with others. I have learned so much from his books and continue to hunger for more. I am a mother of four grown children. I am in a transition in my life with my career as a nurse. I have not been working for a year and am struggling with returning to nursing or moving into something new. A year ago, I asked God to show me His Will. Promptly, I lost my job. I have stayed close to God through Henri’s writings and prayer and meditation. However, I feel myself resisting something and reading the Prologue prompted me to buy this book and join this group.

  42. Father Mike Van Cleve says:

    I guess Jesus is center to all my endeavors -Jesus and the Trinity. For me Jesus is what the name implies God With us Jesus knows us not just intellectually but by being human he can fit into our shoes, He knows the joys and sorrows of all that we do

  43. Ray Glennon says:

    From Thomas Huellinghorst
    I found this by accident today, Read the reflection every morning, but was unaware of this opportunity. Hope this will now connect me to the daily discussion.

  44. Ray Glennon says:

    From Lyn
    I live in central Florida in an area called The Villages. I first began to read Henri’s books several years ago when our pastor quoted him in a church service. I am drawn to Henry’s statements on love, joy and pain. My prayer is to have stupor walk with Jesus during this Lenten season and going forward.

  45. Ray Glennon says:

    From Peg
    Hello to all,
    I am a retired English teacher, having toaught in a middle school in Pittsburgh, PA for 30 years. I am a Pennsylvania girl, born in Bloomsburg, PA and grew up in Carlisle, PA. Six years ago my husband and I relocated to Sneads Ferry, NC. We are on the mainland across the Intercoastal Waterway from Topsail Island, 17 miles south of Jacksonville, NC and 30 miles north of Wilmington, NC. I read Henri in the 1960’s. Now I follow his daily meditations from “Bread for the Journey.” I was unchurched and a cynic until the 1980’s, when I had a Leap of Faith. Now I am all for God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit. Wishing you all the Fruits of the Holy Spirit for this Lenten season. Love, joy, peace, forbearance, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness, and self-control. I am big of the Holy Spirit.

  46. Ray Glennon says:

    From Patrice Cerwonka
    Hi, my name is Patrice. I know Ray and Dawn from our parish here in Columbia MD. I’m a wife and Mother of two wonderful girls, 21 and 26. I’m a Volunteer Coordinator for a Non-profit that provides transportation for seniors. I’m a leader of a women’s faith sharing group at the parish.
    With some recent events I know the Holy Spirit is nudging me to get out of my comfort zone so I’m discerning my path.
    I am so looking forward to this study.

  47. Patricia says:

    I am inspired by Henri’s humanness & simplicity. He struggles to be one with Christ. Our journey on earth is joy filled, but difficult. God has placed us here & He will guide us.

  48. Elaine M says:

    I have always loved the idea of L’Arche, the ark, safety from the flood, a home where the most exotic and ordinary and diverse creatures of God are accepted regardless of their strength or physical beauty. I love that it is a place to celebrate the present, to live peacefully with the idea that some things can’t be “fixed”–and maybe don’t need fixing because the residents and the caregivers have taken the time to discover what is actually “right” in their world. For Henri, it is a place that provides refuge from the grinding rat race of worldly success and material acquisition, a place where people unite in prayer and prayerful service to one another. Yes, it is a also a place of heartbreak and suffering, but somehow a place where people can rally around one another in their needs and challenges. Personally I can’t imagine the patience and steel it must take to feed, bathe, walk, and attend to the unrelenting physical needs of the residents, but I can try to transfer the philosophy that bolsters the members of this community to the challenges of my own situation. When I have identified the actions I must take to fulfill my understanding of what God is calling me to do, can I muster the same kind of patience, grit, hopefulness, and joy? When I am discouraged, can I, as Henri says, remember that “God is greater than my own mind”? Can I ground myself in prayer? Can I sit and just be present?

  49. Peg says:

    I am having a problem with my husband’s temper, which I regard as one of his weaknesses. However, I do not see my weaknesses. This reading helped me because I decided to “stay” rather than “leave.” I am trying to bring Jesus into my heart completely. God has put me here for a reason. Thanks for this reading.

    • David Brown says:

      Peg,
      I couldn’t help but to respond to your comment.To me relationships are the hardest area to follow Jesus wherever he leads. It is also hard to live in Christ as our home as Nouwen suggest when our partner doesn’t share our point of view in our faith journey or acts in ways that we find difficult to accept. Nouwen questioned Jonas his dear friend because Nouwen felt deeply hurt because Jonas did not respond to Nouwen and fullfil what Nouwen felt was necessary to maintain their closeness and friendship.He was faced with the choice to stay or leave. I have/ had important family and friend relationships where my partner stop fulfilling our agreed upon expected behavior and I felt devastated and struggled to stay or go. I so far have decided to stay because of my understanding of God’s leading which includes my “Home in Christ.” Yet I still fail and am often obsessed by hurt because of the lack of attention in vital areas shown by a spouse or dear friend. Then to live in Christ is to attempt to let my hurt go and follow him. Nouwen could do this some of the time but confesses some continued obsession. We are all fallible human being loved by God trying to live in Christ. David

  50. Phil Smith says:

    Hello all – another latecomer introduction.
    I am a husband and father to three (two currently at university, though one is in France for the year). I live in Belper, Derbyshire in the U.K. … a beautiful part of the world. I’ve got hooked into Camino walking and try to devote as much time as possible to this. I have been following this discussion group for some years and always take great inspiration from it … not always making a huge contribution, but always receiving.
    The tings that struck me from the prologue were
    – the story of Jan, the stranger showing Henri his own house (I am often enlightened about myself from the actions of others)
    – that this episode, and subsequent, were Jesus’ response, for Henri, to his desire to follow Him more fully (angels are everywhere in our world bringing us to insight if we just listen)
    – a calling based on more what was to be received, rather than to give.
    – the “yes” emerging form his own brokenness that highlighted Henri’s need for his own radical healing,
    and finally,
    – I echo Henri’s prayer that we will all be “encouraged in (our) spiritual journey and discover that same hope in (our) hearts”.
    Buen Camino

  51. Ray Glennon says:

    Friends,
    Just a quick note to say that we had a number of people introduce themselves late-Friday and Saturday. You can see their introductions by navigating to the Introduction post by clicking on the link located just above the heading February 18th to 24th or by clicking here http://wp.henrinouwen.org/?p=1537 Then open the comments and, as usual, the most recent comments will be the first ones you find.

    To return to this post for the current week, click on the word Home which is the leftmost link in the black bar below the photo at the top of each page on the blog.

    As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

    Blessings,
    Ray

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