Mar 7th to 13th: Lent Week 3 – Henri’s Birthday, Adam, and Community

Reading: January 13 to March 14, pages 87 to 126

I’ve come to see with a clarity I never had before that Adam was the living
Christ among us. Where else did we have to go to be with the man
of sorrow and the man of joy? Where else did we
have to look for the presence of God? p. 109

It has been another week of thoughtful, rich, and spirit-filled sharing. Thanks to everyone on our journey–those posting and those reading along. There were a number of wonderful comments posted on Saturday. If you have not read them, you are encouraged to do so by following the link in the Recent Posts section in the right hand column or by clicking here.

The central event in this two month period is the death of Henri’s beloved friend Adam Arnett of whom Henri writes, “Our relationship has had such a deep impact on my life journey.” (p. 107) We see Henri simultaneously grieving the loss of his dear friend and consoling the members of the community at Daybreak as their pastor. Henri’s journal reflections became the core of the book Adam: God’s Beloved that he began writing shortly after Adam’s death. Henri had the book outlined and largely written when he died unexpectedly seven months later. The book was finished by Sr. Sue Mosteller based on Henri’s notes.

Bracketing Adam’s death in mid-February were Henri’s 64th (and last) birthday on January 24th and his promising meeting with his new friend and potential editor Jim in early March about the Rodleigh’s and the writing of the “trapeze book.” About his birthday Henri wrote, “This was probably the most quiet birthday of my life. But I will always remember it as the most peaceful.” (p. 94) Jim challenged Henri to write the trapeze book saying, “Yes, it feels risky, and it is difficult, but you have no choice.” Jim said the book should be “About community in the most universal sense. Through the Rodleigh’s story you can express the longing of all people. . . It all has to do with community. And that’s your final subject.” (p. 122). The trapeze book remained unwritten at Henri’s death. Our reading this week also includes entries on Prague, Lent, and coping with depression.

Last week Beverly said that she found the suggested reflection process below to be helpful. Giving credit where it is due, this process is adapted from the one that former Henri Nouwen book discussion moderator Brynn Lawrence developed for use during the Advent 2015 discussion of Henri’s The Inner Voice of Love–the Winnipeg journal that he was working on during his sabbatical.

  1. Select a few journal entries that stand out to you, and read them thoroughly, perhaps several times. In your careful reading and reflection, consider:
    1. The experience, thought, or concept that stands out to you
    2. How does it relates to your personal experience?  Look at your experience with the benefit of Henri’s insight.  Does that help you to see things differently or to know yourself better?
    3. What is God speaking to your heart through Henri’s experience and words? How have you been touched, inspired, challenged, and comforted on your spiritual journey.
    4. How you will respond?  Carefully (prayerfully) consider how your heart responds to the insights you gained. Are there small steps you can take to incorporate these insights and to move toward spiritual freedom in your life?  What changes will you make?
  2. Please share your reflection and insights with the group to the degree you are comfortable.

There’s much to reflect on as we reach the midpoint of our Lenten journey. We look forward to hearing from many of you. Please share whatever is on your heart. Be blessed and be well.

May the Lord give you peace.
Ray

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34 Responses to Mar 7th to 13th: Lent Week 3 – Henri’s Birthday, Adam, and Community

  1. Sheila Allee says:

    I wept when I read Henri’s feelings about Adam. I know exactly what he is talking about. Many years ago, I became acquainted with a long lost uncle who had a profound intellectual disability. Uncle Melrose could only say a few words and needed assistance with almost every aspect of life. He had spent almost his entire life in an institution in complete anonymity. I am so thankful that I met him and became friends with him. He had more impact on me than anyone I’ve ever known. Just being with him was like being in the presence of something holy. He exuded love and peace and helped me face my brokenness. He was so influential I wrote a memoir titled My Father’s Eyes about our friendship. Uncle Melrose died 20 years ago but he lives on in my heart.

  2. Ray Glennon says:

    Friends,

    Several of the comments this week were related to the “trapeze book” that Henri wanted to write based on his friendship with The Flying Rodleighs. Although Henri had a large amount of material collected, he was never able to write that book. And, as Nicola and LA noted, it remains unpublished to date. But that is likely to change later this year.

    A new book, All of Life in Nine Minutes by Henri Nouwen and his friend Carolyn Whitney-Brown is currently planned for publication by Harper One in November. According the publisher, this new book presents Nouwen’s “trapeze writings woven into a dramatic narrative that imagines Henri’s life flashing before him during his first heart attack. . . . Readers will meet Nouwen as a spiritual risk taker who was transformed by diversity as he learned to see the world through many perspectives. . . What will we do with our lives, and with whom will we do it? Through this story of flying and catching, Nouwen invites us all to let go and fly – and not be afraid to fall.”

  3. Connie says:

    The Buddhist concept of ‘the hungry ghost’ that Henri read about in Epstein’s book and shared on February 6th really stood out for me. I too have suffered with the pervasive ‘low self-esteem’ that the Dali Lama was so incredulous at hearing about in the West and which Epstein attributes to premature estrangement in our childhood.
    When my firstborn was conceived my immediate reaction was to leave college and start a day-care such that I would not have to put him in the care of strangers as had been done with me at 6 weeks. My family pushed hard to keep me in school insisting that I could provide a much better life for my son with an education. I gave in, but completely changed course and took up a master’s program in education. By the birth of my second son I had gained the strength to stand my ground and left work to stay at home with my children. I was constantly harassed by family and friends for not being a part of the work world. We knew one couple whose wife’s entire paycheck went to a new jeep and I gladly drove old beaters for the privilege of being at home. My oldest, suffering the hunger himself, eventually joined in with the harassment claiming that had I stuck with my original course I could have worked for Microsoft and provided him with a much better lifestyle! Sadly, my youngest died in a tragic accident and within a couple of years my oldest has estranged himself altogether.
    My heart leapt when I read this entry as it provided an affirmation for my instincts and a salve with his thoughts:
    “The Buddhist vision of hungry ghosts and the Christian vision of the resurrection supplement each other. By claiming our presence here and now, and by acknowledging our unfulfilled needs without wanting to fill them with “food” from the past, we too can come to the joy the disciples experienced when they saw the risen Lord, who took grilled fish and ate it before their eyes (see Lk 24-43). I am increasingly convinced that it is possible to live the wounds of the past not as gaping abysses that cannot be fulfilled and therefore keep threatening us but as gateways to new life. The “gateless gate” of Zen and the “healing wounds of Christ” both encourage us to detach ourselves from the past and trust in the glory to which we are called.”

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Connie,
      I’m deeply sorry to hear about the death of your youngest son and the estrangement of his brother. Thank you for sharing the insights you gained through these tragic and life-changing experiences. May the Lord and his comforting Holy Spirit be with you today and every day.
      Ray

  4. Michelle says:

    So many of you have already commented on many of the things I appreciated and held dear as I read this week’s passages. What strikes me, overall, is Henri’s deep capacity and need for friendships. I noticed at the start how much I was drawn to his friend, Borys’ desire (and Henri’s and mine too) as he writes (speaking of Borys): “I could hear his desire for a companion on his many journeys, someone to pray with, to talk with, and just to be with. I felt quite grateful to be and become more and more a true spiritual partner with him” (February 1). Henri models how to be a spiritual partner. I’m grateful for Henri being a wonderful spiritual partner to us all through his writings, and I deeply desire to cultivate such rich relationships with others as well.

  5. Eddie Dunn says:

    I can so identify with Henri’s experience of going to Sunday worship at the cathedral in Amsterdam, the atmosphere of which he described as “formal, polite, and a little stiff” and then stating his desire for “more warmth, intimacy, fellowship, sharing, smiles, laughter, and celebration”. Having now for many years found a home in the Catholic Church, although not feeling led to become a Catholic, I could never feel totally at home in one where worship is as he described. My experience many years ago of being in a small group as part of a 6-week seminar wherein vulnerability and realness was a part of all we did has forever found me seeking just such a worship and fellowship experience. Thankfully, I am in one now, and I love it! Also, his suggestion to Jurgen to “trust his own intellectual and spiritual gifts more” rather than delivering a “perfect” sermon” (apparently a written one) rings true for me. From my first sermons and delivered meditations now more than 60 years ago, then as a minister in the Church of Christ, until my more recent presentations as part of the Divorce Recovery Workshops I have conducted for more that 35 years I never write out what I am to say. Yes, I have an outline I follow, but I know it can only come from my heart and be as effectual as possible if it is more spontaneous. I so appreciate Henri’s honesty in admitting his complaints about not having a more prominent role in his home church in Holland as coming from his “little hurt self”, wanting “more attention”. It is still a battle I wage within myself as well! Like him, I constantly need a “refocusing” in order not to “end up busy, restless, and always looking for affirmation”! I also applaud his disapproval of a worship experience at Pax Christi in which the three women present “hardly participated”. I have always felt that women are sadly not given enough prominence in the churches I have belonged to in order to provide the gifts that only they possess. I love Henri’s admission that “somehow I nearly lost God in my busy life for God”! My part in the failure of my previous marriage was, I later came to understand, just this kind of religious busyness that made me largely unavailable as a husband and as a father to my three daughters, and I have earnestly tried to correct this in my current marriage and with my grandchildren! I have taken note of how often Henri celebrates the Eucharist with friends. His deep understanding of the intimacy of this sacrament both in our relationship with God and with one another is something I am seeking to deepen in my own life! I was interested by his observation that the Dalai Lama was surprised at the “pervasiveness of ‘low self-esteem’ in the Christians he has met. The Eastern contrast to this is one more reason I still have a lot to learn and emulate from those religions. I am also working at following Henri’s example in just sitting “in God’s presence” to “show God all my darkness”. His lengthy discussion of the death of Adam in the L’Arche Daybreak community was both moving and so very beautiful. He described Adam as his “counselor, teacher, and guide” in spite of and perhaps because of his “disabilities”. It gave me a deeper understanding of why Henri was so drawn to this community. “In his brokenness he has shown me my own brokenness, and thus set me on the road to healing and new life”, he wrote, and this inspires me to look for more opportunities of such relationships in my own life! I loved his description of Lent as “a time of refocusing, of reentering the place of truth, of reclaiming our true identity”! Having never practiced the celebration of Lent in my previous denominational experience I am so grateful for what it is becoming to mean in my life now! Having recently lost a grandson who was more like a son to me, I was so able to identify with Henri’s observation that “loving someone deeply means opening yourself to the pain of her or his absence”! I would add that this pain reveals just how deep the love was and is. I have again been amazed at the extent of Henri’s friendships and his extensive travel to be with them, as in his lengthy writing about his trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. That he describes one such friendship as reflecting his “desire for safe, trustworthy, and spiritually helpful company” is something I fully understand. At my now advanced age I no longer want to spend time in any friendship which lacks these qualities. Is anyone else intrigued by Henri’s strong attraction to the trapeze group, The Flying Rodleights, to his seeing in the air “the artistic realization” of his “deepest yearnings”? Did he ever write the book? I also found it interesting how easily he could feel “abandoned” by people. This is indeed a fascinating literary ​ journey for me!

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Eddie,
      My deep sympathy on the death of your grandson. May God welcome him home and may the Lord give his peace and consolation to you and the entire family.

      Henri never did write the “trapeze book” on The Flying Rodleighs. We will learn more about in the coming weeks as Henri continues his sabbatical.

      Ray

  6. Sherman Bishop says:

    I finished this week’s readings this morning, and among the many thoughts that stood out, one caused some reflections. It is Henri’s comment at the end of his Santa Fe vacation, and his disappointing ending at the airport with Frank. “ Still, I felt very disappointed and for the whole trip I kept thinking about my inability to step through my feelings.”. I resonate with the phrase “step through my feelings”. I tend to bend toward the intellectual side of life and away from the emotional. When the emotions come forth they tend to be, for me, quite strong and I’ll confess I don’t like the feeling at all. It makes me think of Paul’s confession in Romans 7:15 where he admits knowing what is the right thing to do, but instead doing the very thing he hates. He of course relates that to the power of sin, but this morning it struck me how very much it can also relate to the power of emotions in human living. They can either sweep us up, or away, or they can build up a wall that is very difficult to “step through”. When that wall becomes a barrier to a relationship, like the friendship between Frank and Henri, the way to cut an opening to step through is forgiveness, of which Henri also witnessed.

    • Barry Sullivan says:

      Hello Sherman,
      Yes, I said to myself while reading your reflections on Henri’s inability to “step through my feelings.” Paul’s confession relating to the power of sin is one way to view this, but I also agree fully with your notion about the power of emotions in our lives.
      Thanks
      Barry

  7. Sharon says:

    I love the imagery of “in as much” in Nouwen’s Feb 26th entry. It gives meaning to everything I do for another. Even when the task is difficult and unpleasant, when I mentally say, “This is for you, Jesus,” it becomes a joyous and meaningful act. As a mother, you can do nothing that pleases me more than to do something or say something positive to or about one of my children. I think that is much like what God feels when we show compassion for one of his.

  8. Nicola Santamaria says:

    There are so many things to say about this week’s readings it is hard for me to choose where to start. Others have already mentioned several aspects of Henri’s words following the death of Adam. On a personal note, a close friend of mine had a son who had severe physical and mental impairments and who died 5 years ago this month. I had been meaning to write to her on his anniversary but struggled to think of what to say. Now I have several passages of Henri’s words of wisdom that I could choose from and I am grateful for that.
    The second area that stood out for me was on Feb 22nd when Henri wrote about ‘You are the rock on whom I will build my church’. I had always thought of this as an affirmation of Peter alone, never an affirmation of my ‘rock-like’ qualities. Even if I don’t feel much of a rock on which the church is built, I can sense the challenge being issued to cultivate that capacity.
    Thirdly I love what Henri says about Community on March 6th. “It is a metaphysical principle that holds the stars, the sun and the moon in their orbits, that connects God with humanity, that allows people to fall in love and bring forth new life.” Wow! Henri has enormously expanded my idea of Community, way beyond the narrow ideas I had before. Did this reasoning come from Henri’s experiences with L’Arche, which seem to have been so enriching for him? He had experienced Community before, in the Seminary, in the academic world, but these were superficial experiences compared to life in L’Arche.
    Finally, of course, the Flying Rodleighs feature in this section of the journal. Henri came so close to being able to write the book about them that he wanted to write. How I long for Sr Sue Mosteller to take up the legacy of this book and complete it for Henri, and for all of us who want to be able to trust the catcher as the Flying Rodleighs did.

    • LA says:

      I feel the same way Nicola hoping someday Sr Sue will complete the book about the Rodleighs as he said they catapulted him into a new consciousness.
      This quote from BREAD FOR THE JOURNEY :
      “Much of our lives is flying. It is wonderful to fly in the air free as a bird, but when God isn’t there to catch us, all are flying comes to nothing. Let’s trust the Great Catcher.”

  9. Patrick Watters says:

    Presence. Ultimately, it seems to be about simple, humble, loving presence.

  10. Neil Fraser says:

    I enjoy Henri’s relentless honoring of those he meets in every aspect of his life. While at the same time appreciating what he brings to the table. He expresses longings for more time to read, write, and pray. Yet, he in general engages deeply with others when that is what God asks of him. He is vulnerable, yet has an obvious deep inner life only God sees. I see him as a model for me in many ways, showing the path he took that I can glean from.

    • Elaine M says:

      Neil, you capture the essence of Henri’s multi-faceted personality and life mission so perfectly. As someone who tends to be more of a Martha than a Mary, I am taking cues from Henri’s practice of constantly writing letters and cards to offer encouragement, consolation, and friendly newsy updates and reflections about his experiences. Reaching out to friends in such ways appeals to my Martha personality’s need to feel busy and productive , but each letter or note also feels like a prayer of gratitude and love. And the letters back from friends offer spiritual and emotional sustenance, especially during pandemic times.

  11. Sherman Bishop says:

    This morning I read the entry in which Henri shared and reflected on Adam’s death. It connected with my “other” spiritual practice this Lent, which is spending time in the Psalms. Henri said of Adam: “I thought, here is the man who more than anyone has connected me with God and the Daybreak community. Here is the man whom I cared for during my first year at Daybreak and have come to love so much. Here is the one I have written about, talked about all over Canada and the United States. Here is my counselor, teacher, and guide, who never could say a word to me but taught me more than anyone else.”. So many of the Psalmists reflect on the gift of the “law”, or “Torah”. I have grown to understand these not as rules, but as descriptive invitations that can lead one to encounter God. It struck me in reading today’s entries that how Henri speaks of knowing Adam do the same thing, “connect [us] with God”. Those who are poor, weak and vulnerable are also an invitation, to accept with love and in doing so may find that they lead us to an encounter with God. Not the “God” we picture with our wants and expectations, but the God who is love, and who connects us through love with one another and with God Him/Herself.

  12. Barry Sullivan says:

    In addition to Henri’s thoughts regarding the death of Adam, which others have addressed very well, I thought I would briefly highlight another thought that I saw as especially insightful. On February 22 (page 113), Henri derives an important message from Jesus’ famous dialogue with Peter regarding community. I have not always heard this expressed by church leaders, but I find great comfort in Henri’s words.

    As Henri, notes: “It is sad that the dialogue between Jesus and Simon Peter [involving keys of the Kingdom, binding and loosing, etc.] has, in my church, been almost exclusively used to explain the role of the papacy. By doing so, it seems to me that we miss seeing that this exchange is for all of us. We all have to confess our need for salvation, and we all have to accept our solid center.” He goes on to say, “And the keys of the Kingdom! They too belong first to all who confess Jesus as their Christ and thus come to belong to a community of faith…”

    The sense that we can all be part of this community of faith, representatives of Christ on earth, is profoundly important. “The Church,” Henri concludes, “is not simply ‘over there,’ where the bishops are or where the Pope is, but ‘right here,’ where we are around the table of the Lord.” This should inspire us. And challenge us! We all have a role.

    Barry

    • Marybeth says:

      Thanks Barry, I agree whole heartedly! The Church is the community (the Body of Christ) all at the table of the Lord, and I’ve been thinking how symbolic that is in Fr.Henri’s daily life, as he shares the Eucharist in both huge well known churches and in the living room of friends and family. A “Table Ministry” that was so typical of Jesus gathering his closest followers, as well as the masses with the fishes and the loaves, to enlighten the faithful. Then just before he left this earth at such a gathering he gave the gift of the Spirit! For us all… to be with us, for us, in us, and through our faith, working through us in our life… hopefully being an example of His Love for others. There may have been a time in history when the common person needed the clergy for teaching and guidance, maybe even protection, for sure, but somewhere along the way… Jesus’ way got lost for some, but not Fr Henri. His writings are a gift for our spiritual journey… Sometimes I wish we, the Spirit-filled faithful, could help those that became misguided. My prayers are certainly with them every day.

  13. Ray Glennon says:

    From Martha
    I am a bit behind in my readings, still on week two. However, it never ceases to amaze me how Henri’s experiences resonate with mine. My fears, insecurities, need of friendships and fear of being ignored or abandoned are so ever present in me. However, what is remarkable to me is that he models for us ways of how one can overcome such emotions by actively making positive and gentle decisions so we can move into a life giving action.

    • Barry Sullivan says:

      Hello Martha,
      Like you, I am always amazed by how Henri’s experiences and feelings resonate with mine, even in these many years after his death. His thoughts, insecurities, and insights seem perennial!
      Thanks

  14. Ray Glennon says:

    Friends,

    In the event you are interested, Adam: God’s Beloved is available here: https://www.amazon.com/Adam-Beloved-Henri-J-M-Nouwen/dp/1570759944.

    This book was the one we read and discussed during Lent 2017. If you would like to view the questions and comments, they are available beginning here: http://wp.henrinouwen.org/?p=1338

    Ray, Moderator

  15. Sharon K. Hall says:

    I too am especially touched by Henri Nouwen’s writing about his relationship with Adam. This kind of perspective on healing which was also in the book The Wounded Healer is what has consistently drawn me to regarding him as a kind of mentor. Some sentences pulled out from the entries “I am increasingly convinced that it is possible to live the wounds of the past not as gaping abysses that cannot be filled and therefore keep threatening us but as gateways to new life.” “I couldn’t stop looking at him (Adam in his casket). He looked so normal, so healthy and so handsome. It was as if he was giving me a glimpse of the new body he would have in the resurrection.” “Adam, the peacemaker, is finally free from all captivity. In his brokenness he has shown me my own brokenness, and thus set me on the road to healing and new life. Now he will receive a new body, full of light, full of love, full of glory, the reward of his remarkable mission.” “I am touched by this mutuality between the healer and the person who needs healing. Healers must be in communion with the source of all life and healing so that they can be true mediators of the healing power, which is larger than themselves. People who seek healing must surrender themselves, trusting that the healer can indeed mediate that healing power to them. The humility of the healer and the faith of the sick person are both central to the work of healing.” I feel like I have been the recipient of some experiences of healing like this, wherein the person who was helping me could actually see me as a complete and whole and normal person already–although I was bleeding and bruised and battered from some sort of adversity. It’s a mystery and a miracle that such relationships between people can happen and, in order to process the experiences, it really does help that someone like Henri Nouwen can write and describe and explain them so well. And when all of us wounded people understand, this helps us to extend the mysteries and miracles even further out into more of the community. The world needs the love and peace and hope. Glad to have read all this week’s entries too.

    • Marybeth says:

      Thanks Sharon. I was very touched by the writings centered around Adam too.

    • Elaine M says:

      Sharon, your experience of allowing yourself to be helped and to appreciate the deep meaning of that help is a great lesson for those of us who might let our pride or a stubborn sense of independence get in the way of a kind and generous offer of help. What must it be like for the Adams of the world, those who can’t help but submit to the ministrations of caregivers for their most basis needs, but often without the “caring” part, without the kind of respect and tenderness that Henri showed Adam? Your post reminds me that my own woundedness can be a powerful tool of empathy toward others.

    • Patricia Kaiser says:

      Thank you, Sharon, for sharing how you understand Henri’s thoughts on healing. You reminded me of reading The Wounded Healer years ago, when I found the message so comforting and meaningful. Now, in the Sabbatical Journey, I appreciate especially such thoughts like, “it is possible to live the wounds of the past not as gaping abysses that cannot be filled and therefore keep threatening us but as gateways to new life”. It makes sense that with love and trust the healer and the healed experience liberation in the wounds.

  16. Elaine M says:

    I know that some of you have made some very compelling observations about Henri’s relationship with Adam in previous discussions of Henri’s books, but I continue to be moved—and almost startled—by every new passage about Adam. Henry was a brilliant, accomplished scholar, writer, and teacher who could have ridden the crest of acclaim, and yet he left the ivory tower to serve Adam and referred to the young man as the one “who more than anyone has connected me with God and the Daybreak community…my counselor, teacher, and guide…my friend, the most vulnerable of all people” and yet the one who “planted little seeds of hope.”

    I am startled on one hand and yet not surprised in view of my experience with the families of children like Adam. Since both of my daughters teach children with disabilities, some of whom are almost as disabled as Adam, I have heard the stories of their students’ struggles in the classroom, worried with them over the children’s frequent hospitalizations, and sometimes grieved their early deaths. As my schedule permitted, I was sometimes able to help with activities in the classroom, and I have participated in more fundraising, awareness-raising walks for Rett Syndrome, Down Syndrome, and epilepsy than I can count. However, what strikes me most about the walks is the energy and positivity of the kids’ parents, who speak of them as their joy, their blessing, and the inspiration that they receive from a feisty little one who keeps plugging away just to get across a room in his walker or to get a spoon into his mouth. The grand finale of one of the walks was a little dance in a courtyard with refreshments and a DJ playing rock music. I marveled as how the parents, many of whom have seldom had an uninterrupted night of sleep since the birth of the special needs child and have constant physical demands during their days, were rocking out on the dance floor, whirling wheelchairs around, side-stepping kids with walkers, laughing, and singing along at the top of their lungs.

    Like Adam, some of these kids may end up in group homes as adults, and I know parents of profoundly handicapped students who already worry about planning ahead for such care should the healthy siblings be unable to pay for care or take their siblings into their own homes.
    I worry too about healthy siblings who themselves take on part-time caregiver roles when they are very young. Can they too feel more connected with God? Can they too feel hope? Can they too see the hand of God guiding their own hand as push their little sister’s wheelchair across the finish line at the walk?

    • Barry Sullivan says:

      Elaine:
      Thanks for those insights relating to the readings about Adam. I also marked up several passages from Henri’s writings about his friend and guide, Adam. I am glad your daughters are teaching children with disabilities. My wife was a special education teacher and administrator for many years. She also has many stories to tell about what she has gained in getting to know these children with disabilities and their parents.
      Barry

  17. Shirl says:

    The readings reminded me of my own mortality, especially at this time of Covid and Henri recounting the death of Adam. I am feeling it, not morbidly but realistically, I am now older than Henri and know it is not just “if “but “when”.Would he have lived his life differently if he had known that he had such a short time to live? I don’t think so.
    How poignant it was that on January 6th, he had said”Thank God for my father. Whatever happens to him in the coming year, I will always be grateful that we had this unique time together”. What a shock it must have been for his father to hear of Henri’s death. I wonder how many years that he had outlived him?
    Maybe, we should take the thought of living out our days as though they were numbered. Would that change us spiritually?

  18. Pamela says:

    I am behind on the assigned reading but fully confident that I’ll catch up or at least toddle along behind you all. I have just finished September’s entries.

    I just wanted to make this comment:

    I identify A LOT with Henri and the fatigue he feels early in the book. Besides Covid-induced inertia, I suspect my own fatigue has a lot to do with eating too much sugar and carbohydrates (they are relatively inexpensive and Covid has taken a big bite out of my income). For me, an Orthodox Christian, Great Lent begins next Monday, March 15, and I’ve been feeling more and more convicted to give up sugar and sweets for Lent. (I am just not able to give up all meat and dairy, which is customary for Orthodox Christians for Great Lent and Holy Week.) I fear and dread the effort involved, but I think it is what I should do and would greatly benefit, spiritually as well as physically, from doing.

    tl:dr — All this is by way of saying I really loved Henri’s line, “The distance between insight and practice is huge.” (Sept. 11) Anyone who has ever been moved to change a bad habit can relate to that!

    • Neil Fraser says:

      I connected most with the trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. My hometown was less than an hour away. These journal entries, as well as the presence of CAC / Richard Rohr in Albuquerque, make me appreciate the spiritual atmosphere in the area.

      As the Sabbatical year is flying by Henri continues to have a passionate desire to write and publish and yet prioritizes deep mutual friendships. He makes plans but holds them loosely. This is exhibited by his trips to see grieving loved ones when someone close to him passes. Henri allows God to make and remake his schedule.

      • Michelle says:

        Neil, as someone who loves to stick to a routine and tends to hold tightly to control, I love your line that “Henri allows God to make and remake his schedule.” During this season of Lent, I’ve been cognizant of wanting to allow God to be God and to walk alongside, feeling well cared for and loved with my steps under someone else’s guidance. Goodness, it’s hard to surrender control, especially when I can pat myself on the back later for all the things I managed to get done with my super efficiency! All this to say, I’m grateful for the reminder that I can try to be more like Henri and hold things loosely–with a lot of grace, I might add!

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