Week 5: April 2nd – 8th

Reading: Chapters 7/8/9

Welcome once again!  In the final chapters of Adam God’s Beloved, Henri invites us to journey with him through the wake, burial and early days of processing Adam’s passing.  Henri shares some of the very personal moments of grief that he and the community experienced during this time, in a way that you can easily feel like you were there with them.  He also shares moments of profound hope.

1_ Grief “is a gradual dying within us of the loved one who had found a dwelling place in our hearts.  Grief is a departing hour by hour, day by day, minute by minute…It is an ongoing dying, a being surprised again and again by his absence, a slow, painful leaving, a wrenching loneliness.  We cannot circumvent our grief.  We cannot shorten it.  We have to give it time, much time” (p118).
a) Please feel free to share your own experience of grief, including things you learned through it.
b) What have you learned through your own experience about how to grieve?

2_”Meanwhile those who stay …will tell those who come for dinner, ‘Adam lived here.  He was a wonderful friend and guide.  Because of Adam’s life and death we have been gifted with peace, hope, love and immense gratitude'”(p124-125).
a) Do you have any special ways of remembering/holding in your heart loved ones who have gone before us ?

3_Throughout the book we’ve come to learn about this incredible young man named Adam, who touched hundreds of lives, all while not being able to talk or act independently.  In Chapter nine Henri reminds us that Adam was able to minister so powerfully not in spite of his powerlessness, but rather because of it.  “Everyone who lived with Adam has been touched by his beautiful spirit.  It is the Spirit that healed so many and brought so many a new understanding of their lives.”
a) Why do you think God’s Spirit was able to work so powerfully through Adam’s spirit?
b) How has Adam’s spirit created room for the Holy Spirit to work in your heart and life this Lent?

There is so much in these three short chapters, and we anticipate they will touch everyone a little differently.  Please feel free to share whatever came up for you in the readings.  We look forward to hearing form you.

Sincerely,

Ray and Brynn

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15 Responses to Week 5: April 2nd – 8th

  1. Sharon Leroux says:

    Adam in my life! My friend a Sister brings God and Jesus to my life! Her mission is to enlighten us!
    Even in simple
    conversation I rarely fail to be inspired. In our friendship her personal sharing allows me to get an experience of her own relationship with
    Jesus!

  2. Ray Glennon says:

    Friends,
    Thanks, once again, for sharing your insights and wisdom. It is a blessing to share this Lenten experience with you. I also want to take this time to publicly acknowledge and thank Brynn for her role as the author of the weekly posts. We share ideas and then she crafts them into the the touching, spirit-filled, and challenging posts that appear each Sunday.

    This week Brynn posted the following question: a) Why do you think God’s Spirit was able to work so powerfully through Adam’s spirit? Here is my take: As a result of his handicaps Adam wasn’t able to “get in the way of God”–something I struggle with regularly. Through Adam (God’s Beloved) the grace of the Lord flowed freely to those who were blessed to encounter him–and through this book to each of us.

    For me it is a difficult challenge to “get out of God’s way” so that I can fully experience his grace, goodness, and joy to let it flow through me into my relationships and world. And why don’ I do that? Because of the distractions, stresses, irritations, and temptations of the world–but mostly because I don’t trust that, like Adam, I am God’s beloved. I choose to depend on myself, rather than depending on God. In fact, I am in God’s way–and that puts me in the way of my own joy and happiness. While I continue to struggle with this I have found following prayer helpful:
    Father, I’ve always believed in you and Jesus Christ, but my heart’s most fundamental trust was elsewhere–in my own competence and decency. This has only gotten me into trouble. As far as I know my own heart, today I give it to you, I transfer my trust to you, and I ask that you would receive and accept me not for anything I have done but because of everything Christ has done for me. Source: The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

    As we enter Holy Week and the concluding week of our Lenten journey, may the Lord give you peace.

    Ray

    • Brynn Lawrence says:

      Thank you Ray, for your very kind words, and for your very warm hospitality toward all who journey with us in these discussions!

      Brynn

  3. Sharon K. Hall says:

    This time I was too busy to participate in the Lenten book reading, though had obtained the book. On Sunday, my husband and I are flying to Iowa to be with family at the funeral of our sister-in-law. Sadly, she died of colon cancer, 50 years old. Just now read through all the postings for each week and found them to be very comforting and I will pack Henri’s book in my purse and read it on the plane. The Adams in my life have been adults who are aging and losing their physical strength and/or mental faculties. For years, I have volunteered to help elderly in assisted living have a worship service and played bingo, gone on outings with them. Henri’s experience with Adam, particularly that he found it more intimate and was able to Jesus more clearly when he spent quality time with Adam, according to what I remember reading in the comments, seems wise counsel to me–not to be superficial in the relationships but to put priority on patiently “spending quality time” with people. I was touched to read in the comments of the spiritual growth in people who have been caregivers also realizing that they receive as they become vulnerable and open to receiving from people such as Adam. Also, I was interested in reading some of the sharing in the comments of how Henri introduced Adam to others so that they too would see “Jesus in Adam”. Even though I haven’t participated in this book read all along, have enjoyed reading the comments and look forward to reading the book–I have come to expect Henri Nouwen’s books to share a perspective which invariably makes me believe he is looking at people, all people, from a spirituality coming from the heart of Jesus, Nouwen’s books draw just like a magnet to his experience and wisdom. I’m thankful for the Henri Nouwen Society which continues to offer these Lenten and Advent book readings. May God bless all of you and your Easter celebration.

  4. James K says:

    My dear friend of 45 years died a year ago yesterday. My grief that I can no longer touch him and speak to him has become a quiet visitor in my life. It is very well described in Longfellow’s poem The Day Is Done.

    “And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me
    That my soul cannot resist:
    A feeling of sadness and longing,
    That is not akin to pain,
    And resembles sorrow only
    As the mist resembles the rain.” ( https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/45896 )

    I do not resist; I welcome the feeling for my friend. He and I played piano duets a few decades ago. I bought a recording of our favorite piece, Schubert’s Fantasia in f. When I hear the music, even though there may be a tear, the night is filled again.

    Lux æterna luceat eis, Domine,
    Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine;

    I must admit I was having difficulty connecting with our reading until these last pages. It finally clicked for me when I read on page 123 “Keeping his memory alive means remaining open to receive the Spirit of Jesus that lived in him and is now being sent to us. There is still so much for Adam to give us.”

    Lord, open my heart to the in-pouring of Your Spirit.

    Thanks to all of you for this Lenten book study.

  5. margaret nichols says:

    It was very difficult to read about Adams death as my sister’s memorial service was last week. She was not only like a mother to me and my friend. Going through this brought up memories of my sons death (Dec. 20015). He was very close to my sister.
    There are no words to describe my grief for my son. He was my first child. A great son and friend. He died of brain cancer that took away his functioning and speech. He was a Pastor. The cancer took the very gifts God had given him for his ministry. It could not take away the true essence of who my son was. Reminding me so much of Adam. The love God gave my son became stronger without his words and ability to express himself. God’s love was so present in our pain. My son was true to his love for Jesus, his family,his calling to his death.
    Henri wrote so much about death and grieving that has helped not to feel so
    alone. He said grief is the hardest work we will ever have to do. I am doing my grief work everyday. Valley of tears soften and cleanse my broken heart leaving room to live with compassion, gratitude and joy. This will honor God, my son and my sister
    Adam, Henri and all of you Thank you

    So true.we have a choice to be bitter or choose life. I made a decision to choose life and I would grieve my own way and for how long it would take. You have to walk through it as there no way around it. The pain really never goes away. I still cry. Tears have been my bread many days.

  6. Sue O says:

    When my mother died hospice did not exist and morphine was not the drug of choice for dying patients so we were on our own except for the pastoral care staff. We supported my mother as she went through the stages of dying and we supported one another as we too went through the stages of dying ourselves. All of this really was a blessing for us, although painful at the same time. We each had our time of tears mingled with times of strength for the other.

    Having gone through that experience helped me to be with others in the dying process. Years later I worked with dying religious nuns in my congregation. We sit at the Sister’s bedside during their dying, we pray with them even if they are unconscious, we stroke their face or hand and support one another during the dying process and following the death.

    At the vigil people who attend the service are asked to share stories about the sister. I feel blessed to learn more about the Sister’s life. Even more sacred for me is cleaning out the Sister’s room following the death. Because most of them are elderly, they have not cleaned out their rooms in many years. I get to look at all their treasures that have been collected over the years. It is a sacred time as I am given a much deeper appreciation of who they were. I might find pictures, dissertations, poems, writings and much more helping to fill in the blank spaces of their lives.

    Having grieved for my mother after her death has made me more available and open to receive the graces that the deaths of others might give me. I am glad to have participated in this book study because it has given me the opportunity to reflect on my own experiences of the many topics brought up in the book. Thank you all for sharing.

    • Kim says:

      Thank you, Sue, for your observations. This book and all the thoughtful discussions on this chapter also caused me to reflect on the times of my personal losses that became filled by the Holy Spirit with unexpected grace and blessing. By the time I finished reading Adam’s story, I felt as though Nouwen had introduced a new friend into my life. While I grieved for his loss, I rejoiced in the blessing of holiness that Adam models for us, even in death.

  7. Susan DeLong says:

    1. a) When my father died more than 22 years ago my heart broke. I have not felt that magnitude of grief before or since. I was overwhelmed with a deep sorrow which I expressed to and with others, but also at times, by going into a room by myself and sobbing. I went alone because I didn’t want to be comforted and stopped from crying. I needed to cry, to let my sadness out. The crying helped me, over and over whenever the waves of grief hit. This lasted for two years. At that time, God orchestrated a special time of comfort for me which was given to me through other people. It was a turning point.

    After that, I still felt sad at times, but now I mostly don’t any more. My dad feels always with me. Our love was strong when he died and it still is. We had no unfinished business and no regrets. Love doesn’t die: that’s my experience with my dad’s death.

    b) Through my own experience of grief, I’ve learned that I need to feel whatever I’m feeling and not to shy away from the pain of loss. I trusted in the grieving process. I found truth in Jesus’ words: Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. I entered into my grief and received surprising comfort from God. So what I learned about how to grieve was to enter into the reality of it and to make space for it. As Henri writes, I had to make time to grieve, and I did just that.

  8. Miriam says:

    I liked the last few chapters because they agree so much with my own experience with death. My experience with death is as a nurse and then being with my Grandpa and Dad while they were dying. Death is a real process that the person has to go through. As a nurse, I have witnessed people do many things during their loved ones’ passing. Most people behave in a caring and loving manner. The one thing I have noticed some Christian people doing is being very tied up in praying for a miracle of healing from God. This can make the people unavailable to experience the road that the dying person is travelling. i hope this makes sense. Sometimes it seems that because we know God is capable of doing a miracle we demand that he do one for us. Putting demands on God prevents us from noticing the ” enjoyable nows.” Have a good week everyone.

    • Elaine M says:

      Miriam, thank you for being there for so many people and for your words of wisdom about dying. Your point about praying for a miracle especially resonates. I am so grateful to the hospice nurses who guided my last conversations with my dying mother and then my sister: to assure our loved ones that the love we had shared in life would endure their passing and that, in a sense, we would not fight against their passing into a new life without suffering and pain. It seems counterintuitive to willingly let go of people who are so close to us. Only faith can get us through these hardest moments in our lives.

      Susan, you say it well. We do need to trust in the grieving process. Just two weeks now after the death of a beloved aunt, I am consoled not only by beautiful memories of her but by the opportunity to share my grief with loved ones who have united in our mutual love for a very special lady.

  9. charles says:

    Adam’s spirit is powerful for heavenly service on earth. His powerlessness, his humility, his childlike state, his poor in spirit being, and his emptying of himself creates the space for the Holy Spirit . He was not distracted by fleeting emotions. He was not tormented. He was free to live.how powerful he was and still is.

  10. Ray Glennon says:

    From Gina D.

    Wow! A book should be published of all these beautiful comments…so much to ponder…thanks for them all! The Holy Spirit moves through all of you and has touched my soul!
    Adam’s story reminds me once again of the tragedy of lives lost that should have been; children that parents decided were not meant to be, children that God placed here to teach us, and lead us spiritually, like Adam. It creates in me an even stronger passion to speak out for those who have no voice in this world…

  11. Elaine M says:

    Yesterday I attended a most amazing spirituality day on the meaning of welcoming—no, embracing—the stranger. We heard the compelling, articulate stories of three whom society typically regards as “the other”: a refugee from Afghanistan, a woman whose prison record and sexual identity had proved challenging in mainstream society, and a young African American man who had experienced a most horrific form of racial profiling. All had experienced powerlessness against a system mired in an insidious kind of stereotyping that deemed them unworthy of consideration of their human dignity and individual worth. Though intellectually and physically capable, they were, in a sense, Adam.

    Like Adam, they persisted and endured. Like Adam, they have been able to shine their own very special light on the world. The young Afghan man’s story is an inspiring revelation of faith in God, family, and self but also of the failure of mainstream society to deliver on the promises of the American Dream. The young woman rose above the labels that society had inflicted on her to become a successful professional and a person of great empathy, one who uses her skills as a massage therapist to ease the physical and emotional pain of women in prison. The young African American man now spends his days working to ensure that the criminal justice system is indeed just. Like Adam, all of them transformed their powerlessness into something very powerful. All of them have served as instruments of God’s love in their own way.

    • Connie says:

      This reminds me so much of proverbs: The Lord’s Will will prevail. Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand. Prov. 19:21 Praise the Lord He is in control. Blessings of this Day!

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