July 26 to August 1: The Path of Living and Dying

Reading: The Path of Living and Dying (p 119-155)
For the complete reading schedule and instructions on how to submit and reply to comments, click on the Reading Schedule link in the bar immediately below the photo.

Thanks for joining us on what has proved to be a wonderful and spirit-filled journey! We have all been greatly blessed by Henri’s words and the heartfelt and inspiring sharing among our community. This week Henri challenges us to look ahead to our death at the end of our earthly journey–“our final passage, our exodus to the full realization of our identity as God’s beloved children and to full communion with the God of love.” (p 155)

Henri tells the story of his life-threatening and, much more important, life-changing experience after being hit by a car. “(I)n the midst of my confusion and shock I became calm, very “at rest” and there was a sort of “embrace of God” that reassured me and gently told me, ‘Don’t be afraid.  You are safe.  I am going to bring you home. You belong to me and, and I belong to you.'” (p 121) He goes on to say he “became aware of some of (his) life’s unfinished business” and describes his belief that he had “been given a gift of extended time to live my life more fully and to better prepare (himself) for his death”; Henri concludes, “I was deeply convinced in my heart that what I had experienced changed forever how I would live in the world.”

Haven’t we all had life-changing experiences, if not life-threatening ones?  Don’t we all have “life’s unfinished business” to address? And who among us doesn’t long to feel the embrace of God and to be told “Don’t be afraid”?  There is so much in this essay to assist us in reflecting on how we can respond to those events and tackle the unfinished business so we can live a life of fruitfulness that will allow us to experience a beautiful death like that of Henri’s friends who say, “I’m going to die.  I’ve had a beautiful life, and I’m grateful.  I give myself over to God and I want you to remember me.” (p 145)  However Henri reminds us that experiencing a beautiful death is almost impossible to do alone, hence Henri’s emphasis throughout his writing on the importance of community.  “We need other people whispering in our ears, ‘Don’t be afraid to die, because even when you die, you will stay with us in a very deep way.'” (p 146)

Henri delivered the presentation and gave the interview that were the source of this essay about a year before his unexpected death.  He said then, “At sixty-three, I am very aware that for me it is just a question of years, a few years.  I sense that my aging is a time for me to be thinking about my passage to more abundant life. I want to become grateful that my life will come to completion and to anticipate sending my spirit of love to all those I cherish… I want to befriend my death.” (p 154).  We that read and share his words are the recipients of his legacy and fruitful death; we are called to do as Henri did, to follow the path of Jesus during our lifetime.  Henri writes, “He calls to us, ‘Follow me.’  He assures us, ‘Do not be afraid.’ This is our faith.”

There are no specific “starter questions” for this week.  Our community has been together for some time now and the online discussion has been rich, inspiring, and fruitful.  You are encouraged to comment on anything that touched you in the essay, in this post, or to share your personal experiences.  We look forward to hearing from many of you as we also thank those of you that our following along in silence.

May the Lord give you peace.

July 19th to July 25th: The Path of Waiting

Reading: The Path of Waiting (p 87-117)
For the complete reading schedule and instructions on how to submit and reply to comments, click on the Reading Schedule link in the bar immediately below the photo.

Welcome back as we continue our summer journey Finding My Way Home.  We have walked together on two of the four paths and have shared much along the way.  Thanks to each of you for your participation whether you have been actively commenting or following along silently. Know that your presence is valued.

The theology of weakness (The Path of Power) and the fellowship of the weak (The Path of Peace) point to The Path of Waiting that Henri explores this week.  He shows us the way to a life of active waiting with a sense of promise that is based on hope and trust in God. Henri teaches us what it means to actively wait, encourages us to wait in community, and shows us that in our waiting we must be willing “to be handed over” as Jesus was.  And we learn that just as we are waiting on God to define our lives, God is waiting on us to choose to follow him.  “God became human not only to act among us but also to be the recipient of our responses.” (p 110)

This is a sage, challenging, and rewarding essay.  As Henri writes, “The life of Jesus tells us that not to be in control is part of the human condition. His vocation and ours are fulfilled not just in action but also in passion, waiting… If it is true that God in Jesus Christ is waiting for our response to divine love… then we can learn to be obedient people who do not always try to go back to the action but who recognize the fulfillment of our deepest humanity in passion, in waiting.” (p115, 117)

We very much look forward to hearing from each of you this week. Your honest reflections are an encouragement to all who are journeying with us this summer. You may respond to one or more of the questions below or share anything that came up for you in the reading.

1.  Henri writes, “A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, believing that this moment is the moment… Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. “(p 97)
a)  Have you experienced the active waiting and patient living Henri describes in your life? What was the result?

2. Henri tells the story of Mary and Elizabeth to illustrate the strength of waiting in community. “Christian community is the place where we keep the flame of hope alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us.  In this way we can live with courage, trusting that there is a spiritual power… that allows us to live in this world without surrendering to the powerful forces constantly seducing us to despair.” (p 103)
a) How do Henri’s insights about waiting in community change your understanding of community?  of waiting?

3.  In considering active waiting and our world today, Henri asks,” In our world today, how much are we really in control?  Isn’t our life in large part passion?”  He then writes,  “Therefore it becomes increasingly important to recognize that the largest part of our existence involves waiting in the sense of being acted upon.” (p 115)
a) When have you experienced “being handed over” in your life?  How did you respond?  Would Henri’s teaching lead you to respond differently in the future?

May we have another blessed week of sharing.

July 12th to July 18th: The Path of Peace

Reading:  The Path of Peace (p 51-85)
For the complete reading schedule and instructions on how to submit and reply to comments, click on the Reading Schedule link in the bar immediately below the photo.

Welcome back to our virtual, but very real, community to continue our summer journey. This week we will consider The Path of Peace and reflect on Henri’s words as he  tells the story of his friend Adam and “…let(s) him become the silent spokesperson of the peace that is not of this world.” (p 56) 

But first, let’s briefly consider the impact that Henri’s relationship with Adam had on his life. Henri tells us, “As my fears of making a mistake or hurting Adam gradually decreased and as I became more relaxed with his routine…I began to experience a mutuality of love not based so much on shared knowledge or shared feelings, but on shared humanity. The longer I stayed with Adam the more clearly I recognized him as my gentle teacher…” (p 59-60) Yet Adam was unlike any teacher the highly educated and world-renowned priest, writer, and speaker had ever known.  “Adam has never said a word to me. He will never do so. But every night as I put him to bed I say ‘thank you.'” (p 75)

Henri with his friend and teacher Adam (Photo by Zenia Kushpeta)
Henri with his friend and teacher Adam (Photo by Zenia Kushpeta)

Adam died on February 13, 1996 just as Henri was finishing the book we discussed last summer. There Henri wrote, “I dedicate Can You Drink this Cup? to Adam Arnett, my friend and teacher… I hope and pray that his life and death will continue to bear much fruit in the lives of all those who have known him and loved him so much.”  Later that year the Lord called Henri home and I am certain he and Adam were reunited in love.

Now let’s turn to the reading for this week.  Henri writes, “Adam’s particular gift of peace is rooted in his being and his heart and it always calls forth community.
(p 61) This is a rich essay with many ideas to ponder.


The three included here are offered to help get us started.   You may respond to these suggestions, share your thoughts on something that touched you, or follow along silently. Regardless of how you participate, you bless us with your presence in our community.

1.  “How simple the truth that Adam teaches me, but how hard to live.  Being is more important that doing.” (p 62)
In a world that values doing, what steps have you taken or would you like take to seek the peace that comes from being with the Lord and each other?

2.  Henri tells us that the heart is the center of our being where God comes to dwell.  He writes, “Adam keeps revealing to me, over and over again and in his own clear way, that what make us human is not primarily our minds but our hearts; it is not first of all our ability to think which gives us our particular identity in all of creation, but it is our ability to love.” (p 65-66)
What is your response to Henri’s insight as you look at the world today?  How are you living out your humanity in love?

3.  “Adam is gradually teaching me something about a peace that is not of this world.  It is a peace… rooted in simply being present to each other and working together in harmony, a peace that speaks about the first love of God by which we are all held safe, and a peace that keeps calling us to community in a fellowship of the weak.” (p 75)
Can you share about one or more “communities” in your life where you experience the peace we described by Henri?

We have a wonderful week of rich sharing ahead of us.