Reading: May 19 to July 31 entries, pages 168 to 207
The love of God, neighbor, and self is one love. This great commandment
is a call to the most profound unity, in which God, God’s people,
and we ourselves are part of one love. June 6, p. 179
In our readings this week, as we near the end of our Lent journey, Henri continues to travel extensively, write regularly, meet with friends both old and new, vacation with his father, visit the Flying Rodleighs, and celebrate the Eucharist daily–all while anticipating the end of his sabbatical and his return to L’Arche Daybreak. Henri’s life sounds exciting, fulfilling, and exhausting, as Henri himself readily acknowledges.
But in the entry for July 31 we learn there is more. Henri tells “my best friend” Nathan that he has been plagued by anxiety for the past several month. And then he writes, “I somehow wonder how I am going to survive emotionally.” (p. 207) Perhaps Henri’s frenetic pace and seeming need or desire to be “always in the center of things” is a response to his anxiety and a way for him survive emotionally. This likely took a terrible toll, knowing as we do, that Henri died less than two months later from a massive cardiac arrest. Of course, Henri knew nothing about this. He was planning with his friends “on what to do with our lives between sixty and eighty” (p. 168) and wondering “where we will be and what we will be talking about five years from now.” (p. 204)
As is always the case, there is much to reflect upon in our reading this week. You are invited to comment on whatever touched your heart. Or you may choose to consider one of more of the following excepts that were meaningful to me.
- In the entry for May 20 (p. 170), in response to Jim’s question about what is most important life, Henri said, “Well, three things: living a vision inspired by the Gospel of Jesus; being close to the poor, the handicapped, the sick, and the dying; and finding a way to satisfy my deep yearning for intimacy and affection.” (Note: Henri’s “three things” answer is typical Henri. He grouped his ideas into groups of three points.) What is most important in your life?
- On the Feast of the Visitation (May 31st), Henri writes, “I can hardly think about a better way to understand friendship, care, and love than “the way of the visitation.” In a world so full of shame and guilt, we need to visit each other and offer each other a safe place where we can claim our freedom and celebrate our gifts.” (p. 176). How have you experienced the “way of the visitation” in your life?
- Following a dinner party on July 25th where the influence of politics and religion was discussed, Henri wrote, “For me it is not a question of how we can most influence others. What matters is our vocation. To what or whom are we called? When we make the effect of our work the criterion of our sense of self, we end up very vulnerable. Both the political and ministerial life can be responses to a call. Both too can be ways to acquire power. The final issue is not the result of our work but the obedience to God’s will, as long as we realize that God’s will is the expression of God’s love. (p. 205) How are Henri’s words relevant to the role and influence of politics and religion our world today?
As we have done throughout Lent, you might consider using the process shown below to guide your reflection.
- For the journal entries mentioned above or any others that stand out to you, consider:
- The experience, thought, or concept that stands out to you
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- Please share your reflection and insights with the group to the degree you are comfortable.
We look forward to another week of fruitful discussions. Be blessed and be well.