Week 3: March 19th – 25th

Reading: Chapter 4 Adam’s Way

Welcome to week three!  We’ve had such a beautiful discussion so far.  Thank you to each one for your vulnerability and courage to share.  It is safe to say, your contribution is touching someone else’s heart.

In this Chapter Henri gives us three examples of how Adam’s “way” of being and of living had a profound impact on other people.  Again, we see a deepening of the themes Henri has already raised, so feel free to re-visit themes we’ve already touched on in earlier weeks.

1) Henri shares three stories, one of Fr. Bruno, another of Cathy and finally of himself.  Each of these three were living a different life experience, and Adam was able to touch their life where they most needed it.  
a)  Which of the three stories do you most identify with and why?
b) How does Adam’s “way” speak to you in your current life experience?

2) Henri shares the story of his own journey, and reflects that “I was challenged to believe that even when I had nothing to show for myself, I was still God’s beloved son” (p79).
a) Have you had a similar experience of a low point in your life, with nothing to “show” for yourself?  How did you believe and claim the love of God for you in that time?  And/or…
b) How will you now?

3) “In our society plagued by fear, anxiety, loneliness, depression, and a sense of being lost, we keep looking for guides” (p81).  Many of us have the privilege and responsibility of being a guide for others, and many of us have sought good guides to help us along the journey.  Henri indicates the risk that a guide can becoming too controlling and the receiver too dependant.
a) How does Adam’s way give you fresh insight into how to be a good guide for others?
b) How did Adam’s powerlessness allow him to be a pure instrument of God’s healing power?  What does that mean for you?

We very much look forward to another wonderful week, and hearing how the readings spoke to each of you.

Ray and Brynn

14 Replies to “Week 3: March 19th – 25th”

  1. I see parts of myself in Fr. Bruno, Cathy and Henri. Fr. Bruno seems in denial re his own weakness, Cathy wants to upstage her weakness with wealth and Henri wants intimate relationships that provide ‘home’ becoming so close as to be “suffocating.” I see pieces of me in all their stories. Masking these needs and putting up walls becomes the defense.

    And in the words of Henri I ask myself, “If people knew us as we really are would they still love us? Or would they forget us when we’re no longer of use to them? Here’s the central question of identity: Are we good because of what we do or have? Or are we good because of who we are? Am I somebody because the world says I’m somebody, or am I somebody because I belonged to God before I belonged to the world?”

    I love those questions as they hit at the heart of the matter for me. Since Jesus was fully human and fully divine, I wonder how he struggled with these questions. One of the hardest pairings for me in my Lenten journey is seeing the paradox of Jesus’ power alongside His vulnerability. Seeing Jesus in me invites a similar pairing. In a world that scorns weakness, it’s painful to admit that true power is most potent alongside powerlessness. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the power may be of God not ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

  2. Friends,
    My daughter’s surgery yesterday was successful and the doctor was able to use the laparoscopic procedure so the lengthy recovery from this major surgery will be somewhat eased. One immediate blessing is that the diseased organ was, in fact, in very poor shape bringing further clarity to may daughter’s decision to take the surgical route rather than to try and continue with medication that was not really improving the situation.
    Thanks for your prayers and support.

    1. Ray,

      Very good to hear of such a good outcome for your daughter. It’s so difficult for us as parents when our children are at risk or hurting. I pray for her continued recovery and healing.

  3. Being an extrovert thinker it is a challenge to be a quiet listener at times but I have had a couple of experiences that left me speechless. I had to be a listener like Adam who encouraged interaction without even saying a word. I went to Chile to work in an orphanage and daycare center. I knew very little Spanach so felt like I was at a disadvantage. Yet it was my very lack of language that was a blessing to me. I did a lot of listening, smiling and nodding as a way of being with people. To my surprise I developed a relationship with the children, the girls at the orphanage and the elderly religious sisters. We felt a real connection to each other. They could share so much with me and I would nod, say “yes” and smile. I don’t know whether the children, girls and the elderly or I received more. My mantra during that time was “Be still and know that I am God” from Psalm 46 or 64??? And the serenity prayer both of which kept me centered, peaceful and blessed. Also I had to depend on others because at the end of my first month in Chile, I was mugged and broke several ribs. I had no insurance and could not even make my needs known except with broken Spanish and English but made friends in the healing process over the next few months.

    The other experience dovetails on that one. When I was in the NICU they asked me to stay with a 5 year old boy while his parents spoke with the doctor who was going to do surgery on his new brother who was in the NICU. Of course I said I would stay with the little boy. When I met him he seemed shy but when I could ask him his name and tell him mine in Spanish we became friends. I was with him over an hour and all I did was smile, say “Si” and nod my head. The little boy talked up a storm and the hour went by Rapido, muy Rapido.

    I can relate to Henri’s story, always trying to gain approval and love. Currently I am retired and have several volunteer positions. At first that was difficult because I had a position where I was always in charge. Now I love it. I can be there but do not have to deal with the issues and problems that arise so develop different types of relationships with people.

  4. This blog is such a wonderful community of travelers all moving along a spiritual road together; like Cathy going to Daybreak to find some peace and solace for her personal pain, I also find myself coming here each day to find something which I cannot fully define at this time. I know I need something special to help me deal with my own sense of depression and bewilderment… like a child separated from its parent, wandering about lost and frightened.

    I think perhaps we are all a bit like Cathy who just can’t seem to work up enough faith and courage to love ourselves enough to believe that God can love us too. But the reality of who I am came to me when I read Henri’s words about always looking for a place where he could “…feel safe”. And he goes on to say, “And when I had the courage to look deeper, to face my emotional neediness, my inability to pray, my impatience and restlessness, my many anxieties and fears, the word ‘handicap’ started to have a whole new meaning.”

    Reading these words I started to understand how it is that we are the ones who are handicapped because our life’s needs are almost endless… driving us into a frenzy of activity, both mental and physical, which keep us from finding the rest we so desperately need in the arms of Our Father. Even as I post this comment, I find myself driven to make it sound intelligent and worthy of acceptance… if it is acceptable then I too must be acceptable. And on we go… driven and tired. So often I hear the words of Saint Paul echoing through the lonely halls of my own mind: “Oh wretched man that I am; who can save me from this body of death?”

    1. Anthony and fellow pilgrims (whether posting or silent),

      Thank you for joining us on our Lenten journey. It is a privilege and a joy to read such heartfelt sharing from so many of you.

      As a longtime participant, Andrew’s words echo my own feelings when he writes, “Even as I post this comment, I find myself driven to make it sound intelligent and worthy of acceptance… if it is acceptable then I too must be acceptable. And on we go… driven and tired.” Yet I know that I am the beloved–even if I don’t always feel or act that way. And the reason I keep returning to these discussions is because of the warm welcome, acceptance, compassion, encouragement, and spirit-filled fruit that each of you bring our community. (I started to write virtual community, however that is not accurate. This is a real community–and our meeting place happens to be online.)

      A personal request — My 33 year-old daughter Mollie is having major G-I surgery tomorrow (the first of a series of three). I would ask that you keep her and her medical team in your prayers.

      May the Lord give you peace.

      1. Ray,

        Your beloved Mollie will be in my thoughts and prayers for many days to come. May she be fully restored to good health; and may you and your family take refuge and comfort in the fact that you are not alone during this difficult time.

  5. I’ve been thinking about Henri’s struggles to prove himself to gain the approval and affection of God (and his peers as well I think). In the book, he characterized that sense of unworthiness as having nothing to be proud of. Henri wrote that he resisted becoming like Adam who was unable to achieve in the ways of the world. I think the idea of Adam’s complete vulnerability frightened Henri. Henri wrote his honest fear: He did not want to be “dependent and weak.”

    Like Henri, dependence and weakness. As I age, I worry not only about no longer achieving in the worldly sense, but about losing the ability to care for myself. To put it bluntly, complete dependence on the care of others scares me. Henri’s answer to some of that fear stood out to me when thinking of my own similar fears. He wrote, “Somewhere though I recognized that Adam’s way, the way of radical vulnerability, was also the way of Jesus.” Once again, Henri reminded me that I am a beloved child of God, in all of my life’s stages.

    1. Thank you Christine for sharing your heart.

      I resonate with much of what you wrote about your fear of advancing age and not being able to achieve, and I am so glad you reminded us all that radical vulnerability was the way of Jesus. This has caused me to look at aging in a much more positive light.

      1. Christine and Curtis,

        Your comments bring to mind a poem by Christina Rossetti. It has been a good reminder to look for the beauty God grants in the hard and uncertain times of life, especially those we are powerless to change.

        “Later Life: A Double Sonnet of Sonnets (XIX)”
        Here now is Winter. Winter, after all,
        Is not so drear as was my boding dream
        While Autumn gleamed its last watery gleam
        On sapless leafage too inert to fall.
        Still leaves and berries clothe my garden wall
        Where ivy thrives on scantiest sunny beam;
        Still here a bud and there a blossom seem
        Hopeful, and robin still is musical.
        Leaves, flowers and fruit and one delightful song
        Remain; these days are short, but now the nights
        Intense and long, hang out their utmost lights;
        Such starry nights are long yet not too long;
        Frost nips the weak, while strengthening still the strong
        Against that day when Spring sets all to rights.

      2. Something that stood out to me this morning on re-reading the chapter was a phrase Henri used when considering his lessons learned in the company of Adam. He wrote that Adam had opened his heart to “the gift of vulnerability.”

        Perhaps by recognizing and embracing the my own vulnerability as gift, I will be better able to open myself to the fullness of the love and care of God.

  6. What stood out to me on my first read of the chapter was this question, “what was different about Henri after he returned from his crisis?

    A greater ability to love.
    Even though Henri wasn’t living with Adam anymore, Henri’s crisis birthed in Henri a freedom to connect with and befriend in ways that he couldn’t before. Both were strong now.

  7. I most relate to Henri’s story, & to his admission of emotional neediness. I’m not sure whether everyone has that demon, but I know I do. Henri’s resolution rings so true: in Adam’s powerlessness lay his power, & in Henri’s admission & acceptance of his own vulnerability lay his healing. Adam’s gift became Henri’s; with God’s grace, it can become ours, too.

  8. #1. Although Father Bruno was in the midst of transitioning from one who carries authority to one who lives a more ordinary life, and I have already made that transition; I found myself identifying most with him. Father Bruno said: “For many, many years I have tried to live a spiritual life and have tried to help others live it as well. I always knew that I had to become empty for God, gradually letting go of thoughts, emotions, feelings, and passions that prevented the deep communion with God I desired.” This statement has helped me to acknowledge that I share Bruno’s desire for deep communion with God and that at the same time, I sense God inviting me to keep letting go of my fears and resentments.
    I am challenged that the people in the house were happy with Adam the way he was. He was not a “poor man” to them and they did not wrestle with resentment over what had happened to him. Bruno, in fact, experienced Adam as one who had been “chosen by God” to lead him deeper into communion and to allow him to touch the fullness of God’s love.
    Certainly as I remember my own Adam’s last years, he too led me deeper into communion with God and he too allowed me to touch the fullness of God’s love. It is good for me to remember how exhilarated I felt to be touched by God’s love in this way as it is now over 20 years since I received this grace.
    It is good to hear God inviting me to keep letting go and to keep desiring a deeper communion with God. This story of Father Bruno has rekindled my memory and my desires.

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