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.

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

  1. Sharon says:

    My mother-in-law who was living in a nursing home in a state relatively far for us to travel easily, died this past spring. My husband and I made as many trips home to be with her as we could but it was a heartbreak to know that we might not be there for her when she died. And it did happen that, when she showed signs of imminent death, she died within 3 hours. But what was so comforting to us was that her hospice worker was with her when she died. I know probably people die alone all the time but, for our family and the guilt we felt regarding the whole tragic circumstances of family distance, knowing that God provided a real angel for Essie at the exact moment of her passing, removed the guilt and He consoled us as well as supporting and consoling Essie. For about six months now, I’ve been praying the Rosary at the church next door to our house, with a group of others who remain after the healing mass. And during Essie’s last six months, it was so comforting to pray “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.” My belief is our prayers were heard and they were answered in exactly the way of Highest Wisdom in Heaven.
    Sharon

  2. Lori Jo says:

    I am 63 years old, the same age as Henri when he died. In my same amount of years I have been a seeker of faith. Henri , on the other hand, writes as a finder of his faith. His books on faith, life and death seem to be about a faith rooted and grounded in following Jesus. Henri says that we are beloved to God before we were born, during our life on earth and in eternal life. To me this has been very enlightening for me in finding a stronger faith through this book study. After reading the fourth reading I pondered how to respond. I suddenly recalled a story but I cannot remember the source. Anyway it is about Jesus coming to Niagara Falls. There is a deep drop below Niagara Falls and the chilling water rushes between rocks below. As the story goes, “Jesus has a tightrope across the steep waterfalls and He easily walks the long distance back and forth suspended on the rope. The onlookers all see him accomplish this and they exclaim that He can do it for sure. Then He takes a wheel barrow with him across the rope and returns. Again, the cheering crowd believes and declares their faith in his ability to cross over pushing the wheelbarrow. Then Jesus asked those with faith to come forward to sit in the wheelbarrow while He pushes it across and back.” That is what I think of when I think of death. As Christians we believe that we will pass through death to eternal life with Jesus at our side. We have the gospels to document that Jesus crossed over and returned to assure us “Fear not”. It is the ultimate statement of faith to know that Jesus will be with us now and at the hour of our death. ( I apologize for not being able to accurately acknowledge the source from whom I paraphrased the story).

  3. Nuala Doherty says:

    We all experiences lots of little deaths each day:disappointments, rejections,insults ect. The big question though is, how good are we at letting go. Another little death that I am going to experience in a couple of weeks time is saying goodbye to my sister when I leave for Ecuador. It will be sad for both of us but not as much for me because I will be returning to my community (my religious family) and friends. I then took this a step further and tried to imagine how I would feel if I was preparing for my own death. I am sure there would be lots of sadness but at a deeper level HOPEFULLY I would be at peace because I would be going to my “spiritual family”!!! It would be even greater if I could sincerely utter the words of Jesus “It is good for you that I go”. (At a human level I am sure that my sister would not agree – even for me it is something that I am still grappling with). It would be good in the sense that, my sister would no longer be worried about me because I would be in a very “safe” place. Death would not stop me loving her. In fact I could love her in a new and deeper way (without the human limitations). And, spiritually speaking , I would be much closer to her. In truth, I would be leaving her with a very special gift – my spirit. Which is something nobody could take away from her!! Just as Jesus left his most precious gift – the Holy Spirit.

    • Elaine says:

      Nuala, you have become such a valuable member of this group. I am inspired by your life story and your beautiful attitude about the meaning of love, faith, and community. Will you be able to continue to participate in our future book discussions when you are in Ecuador? I hope so. If not, I know you will always be with us in spirit.

  4. Ray Glennon says:

    Friends,

    I have just re-read your comments on this essay and I continue to be overwhelmed by the depth of meaning and powerful testimonies that are being shared. It is a tremendous blessing to be a part of this community. Thank you Ann for sharing with us your trip and the wonderful story of how even in her weakness the Lord was able to use Mackenzie to touch someone in need.

    A number of you mentioned that this essay was particularly challenging at this stage of your journey. It is for me too. As I write this comment I am exactly nine days older than Henri was the day that he died. It is simply a coincidence, but it makes Henri’s words that much more poignant: “And so I sense that my aging is a time for me to be thinking of my passage to a more abundant life. I want to become grateful that my life will come to completion and to anticipate sending my spirit to all those I cherish.” Thanks be to God, I am in good health and I hope to have many years ahead of me. But I also believe that “my passage to a more abundant life” requires that I live the life that I have been to the full by answering Jesus’ call to “Come after me” and following Mary’s advice to “Do whatever He tells you.” Deo volente (God willing) I will do just that. Thanks to each of you for helping me along the way.

    Facilitator’s Note: This summer book discussion will continue next week when we will have an opportunity to reflect back across all four readings. There will be a new post on Sunday with a few suggested final reflection questions. I hope that each of you will join us for our final week.

  5. Ray Glennon says:

    From Cel

    This is such a peaceful, comforting essay. I love Henri’s words from his near-death experience, “You belong to me and I belong to you.” And later, “Life is just a little opportunity for you during a few years to say, ‘I love you, too’… You become conscious that you were sent here for just a short time, for twenty, forty or eighty years, to discover and believe that you are a beloved child of God. ” So simple, yet so profound, and it leaves me wondering why I have such a hard time remembering to live out of that rather than the wounds and disappointments that have come my way. What would this world be like if every one of us lived that way? Then it would be easy to “help your brothers and sisters know that they also are beloved sons and daughters of God who belong together.”

    Since I retired 15 months ago, all but one month have been spent in pain from a series of injuries. “Old age” has seemed to come with a vengeance – and I never expected it. I’ve been forced to move from a “doing” mode into a “waiting” mode, with lots of reflections on being vulnerable and becoming okay with it. Henri’s writings have really helped the process. This essay added a new thought to the mix, that of reflecting on what fruit my life will yield after my death. With that in mind, I have spent this week looking back at choices I’ve made over the years to serve and help and nurture. Now I’m looking forward to the possibilities of the rest of my life: how can I better live out of the experience of being beloved by incorporating into my actions the wisdom of these chapters on power and peace and waiting and dying.

    • Ray Glennon says:

      From David Brown

      Cel,
      I have been retired 2 months and also have experienced some frustration between what I hoped and dreamed retirement would be and what I have experienced so far. Sometime life interefers with our plans. Nouwen seems to tell us to keep on seeking to be fruitful with our living. For me I understand this may mean accepting what comes, being prayerful, and making changes if God opens or shuts doors.Contemplative prayerfulness is just as significant as active attempts to make a difference in my understanding of becoming the Beloved in the Nouwen sense. Peace to all in this journey. David

      • Cel says:

        Thanks, David. Yes, the journey has been different than I expected, but that’s okay. It gave me an opportunity to do this summer study, and it’s been a thoughtful, definitely contemplative journey. The timing and doing this particular book was a gift. I was discussing it with my spiritual director yesterday and he was intrigued about what Henri wrote about both being acted upon (especially the description of Jesus’ passion) and living so the fruits of my life continue after death. Afterwards, the thought occurred to me that isn’t how we celebrate the saints? We remember them, follow their example, are inspired to live more fully by the example of their lives and, ultimately I believe, are able to believe that we are beloved because we see how others lived out of their experience of belovedness. Henri blew open the possibilities by telling us that ALL of us are caught up in the mysterious love affair with God and will bear much fruit.

  6. Ann says:

    I am home from my few days in Oklahoma comforting Shelby and attending Mackenzie’s Celebration of Life. The Path of Living and Dying was evident in the service. I knew Mackenzie was a strong believer like Shelby and the stories Shelby and 2 other friends gave were so beautiful. Mackenzie went on several mission trips and loved all those she encountered. The deep places in her heart broke most for those far from God. Even in her darkest moments of pain, she expressed to Shelby that it would all be worth it even if just one person came to know Christ. And this happened– a nurse at the first hospital told Mackenzie’s mom that she had come to work that day with plans to commit suicide after her shift that night but after meeting Mackenzie and taking take of her for those 12 hours she went to church the following Sunday and gave her life to Christ. That You, God, that at this point in Mackenzie’s journey she still had a voice and was able to show the love of Christ through her words. Thank you all for your words of comfort for Shelby. I have read all the comments to her. I am so appreciative for what I have learned from this study and for all the imput from others. God bless you all.

    • Cel says:

      Ann, thanks so much for sharing this. What a comfort for all who loved Mackenzie and an inspiration for everyone else! God is so good to us!

    • Sharon says:

      thank you for your follow-up posts, as you continue to comfort Shelby mourning Mackenzie’s death, Ann. Knowing the further story encourages all of us to continue “taking up our crosses” believing every breath we take, every day of our lives, holds promise, purpose and meaning for God and for the world and for all others we come in contact with (readers of this blog and your sharing are also coming in contact with the inspirational story of Mackenzie and the dedication and love of Shelby for her–we are impacted spiritually and stronger in faith and thankfulness for God working among us so powerfully–and we realize more fully just how much we can continue trusting His wisdom and that He takes care of everyone’s needs). Blessings upon you and Shelby and your whole family.
      Sharon

  7. Andrew says:

    I liked what Henri said on page 142: “We want to move away from emulating successfulness and begin to dream about a life of fruitfulness.” Again this chapter reflects the ‘upside down kingdom’ of Jesus, just as power is found in powerlessness, peace in those we don’t expect will give us as much, significance in passion.

    Just a quick story about my thinking about death once. I was 20 years old and was reading about Hezekiah’s illness (Kings or Chronicles story.) He is on his deathbed but then God gives him another 15 years to live. Somehow I felt God telling me that I would have only 15 more DAYS to live, from the time I read this (I was (and still am) learning to discern the voice of God). So however I reflected on this, I don’t remember too much about it, but I had some peace about it despite being young; I figured I was in God’s hand. In fact on the 15th day in question I was in a vehicle being driven to my early morning construction job, falling asleep as I never had enough sleep, and just letting my life go into God’s hands…I was jolted awake by a near accident miss…anyway now it is actually 15 years later (ironically?) and I am still here! And have not pondered death much since then. Peace to all.

  8. Doris says:

    Circumstances happen unwittingly to forever change one’s life. It was so for me in 2010. I and my husband had gone to Stars on Ice (a mother’s day gift from my daughter). There was an intermission and we walked into the plaza. Coming back the lights had all gone out – walked along the stair walk there was a drop of stair – missed it, broke a hip. My life had changed in a matter of minutes. I could rail against God, fate but I did not at the time. But admittedly acceptance had not come and did not come for awhile. Had surgery – it was done wrong, second surgery had to take place in a few months. The second surgery took place to replace the too short rod and glue that did not stay on.

    Another surgery awaited me – God was not finished teaching me my lessons. The morning I had surgery I picked up my bible to read a verse Psalm 118 one verse and quickly only read half “you will not die” – no further, I had to go. Surgery took place and there I experienced the presence of God. I came out of the anesthetic, complete chaos calling for blood. I felt my spirit leaving and then came a whisper in my heart ‘you will not die’. It was the gentle voice of God, utter peace came upon me. I knew I was in God’s hands. This verse was found in Psalm 118:17. But the finish of the verse was this “I will not die, instead I will live to tell what the Lord has done”. Yes, I did learn what the Lord did for me, and yes I have suffered but in this case I know that death and dying can be peaceful, and that God does not fail us. Also I do tell what God has done for He has changed my life immensely.

    I love Henri Nouwens books, I love the writing and the concepts and have learned so much. I love being a part of being able to comment and pray that this was not out of place or too much. I simply needed to share it. I know what Shelby is feeling but crossing over to be with Jesus must be a wonderful time for the peace I felt and the change in my spirit as I became well. So all I can say is Thank you Lord.

    • Cel says:

      Doris, your post was very moving. Your ability to have peace in the midst of the repeated surgeries is an inspiration. My tendancy is to fight/confront/fix anything that goes wrong, though as I age and become wiser (and have more acted-upon experiences), I am quicker to let go and let God. I think you’re way ahead of me in that ability. Bless Henri for the wisdom he writes, which sure helps me on this journey.

      • Doris says:

        Cel I have fought the hip problem too long. If I am to be this way for the span of my life I must build acceptance into my heard. So I ask the Lord to walk with me daily. When I am wrong or make a mistake I ask forgiveness. I am a forthright person this is the way our Lord made me. I want to have His Spirit control me all my days – every moment, every breath. To Jesus I have given all – if I had not I would not endure but complain along the path of life. Jesus has made it clear through scripture that I can do nothing on my own and I know it is true. So daily I walk with Jesus – am I perfect NO, but I know the Lord is with me always. I cannot fight the pain, I must just hand my entire being over to Him and you know what Jesus is to me….He is Lord of my life and one day I will see Him. God bless you and peace like a river be with you.

  9. Jerry Kirks says:

    This chapter and the many thoughtful responses have prompted me to think deeper on this issue. At almost 78, it is more of near reality. Several outside influences have affected how I feel.

    My Doctor told me I was getting healthier as I go older. Amen!

    When my Father died, my Son of 20 said “Dad, why is everybody crying? Grandpa wanted to go to Heaven all his life. We should be happy”

    Atul Gawande questioning medical techniques which prolong life artificially, “Being Mortal.”

    On a lighter note, Jimmy Buffet’s song, “I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead.”

    I thank God for my health and that my friend, God, is taking me to so many exciting places and people. I pray that all can find “that friend” and say, “well God what do we do today?”
    When you lose someone close, they remain with you in spirit but change in your life. They can still have a very important place, but move over and make room for new people and new experiences. You may want to treasure the experience, but move on.

    It is fitting that we should share this last chapter with Henri after being with him “Finding Our Way Home.” God bless you all on your journey.

    Thank you all and especially the helpful suggestions and insights of Ray.

    Jerry

  10. Ginny says:

    As others have stated, “This is a challenging topic to address.” Coincidently I have been reflecting on my own immortality; and with great fear. It was helpful to read Henri’s thoughts of how the fruits of our lives will also be appreciated after our death and his awareness that he was given more time due to, perhaps, unfinished business he needed to tend to. I will continue to reflect upon that; “What unfinished business do I have,” whether it is to forgive hurts, continue to love others and to be aware of times I may need to wait for the will of God to become more apparent to me. Thank-you….I have really enjoyed being a part of this discussion group and look forward to others. Ginny

  11. Gilly Beardmore says:

    I love the honesty and vulnerable realism of Henri’s writing and that is why it has a long lasting influence on my journey . Thanks be to God. I too found this week’s reading the most challenging but it has enabled me to watch my reactions stand back and take a step forward if only a small one at least in the direction of our home.

    At the outset Henri is explicit about our fear of death but follows directly with a change of direction towards the option of making a loving response. How can we balance that fearful human attitude to death with a loving perspective that turns our faces back to our Father’s love? Perhaps by facing the realities of our own
    ageing and choosing to live fruitful lives instead for his glory?

    That invitation can open our hearts and discard the dominance of fears and balance them with loving fruitful actions. We will never be totally successful but the freedom to make that choice brings with it a freedom to be at peace and confidently look into fleeting glimpses of the mysterious face of God’s shining love for us. He is waiting patiently for us to see his smile of welcome. But these are my words.

    This week Henri’s words enabled me to begin to experience that change of perspective. A group of us were helping this morning at an ecumenical “Holidays at home event for the elderly ” We heard a talk about the ways in which a group of Christians had filled baby baths full of gifts for new babies born into a range of
    challenging circumstances. The gift of a bath demonstrated God’s unconditional love in actions NOT words. Then we supported the guests in activities concerning memories of their own childhood ,their experiences of children today, knitting squares for baby blankets and looking at the contents of the baths with a retired midwife.Young people from a community focused supermarket were encouraged to join us .An all age community .

    As we talked Henri ‘s words echoed. How were we listening, how did we share experiences and where were the invitations to all of us to be fruitful in the moment?

    God was working in our smiles,chatter and thoughtful attention to each other whatever our age. We were sowing seeds together .The parable of the mustard seed was the theme for the worship that followed!

    Gilly

    • Elaine says:

      Gilly, you always have such a beautiful way of reframing Henri’s words for us and applying a meaningful personal example to which we can relate. I especially like your perspective that we have the “freedom to be at peace and confidently look into fleeting glimpses of the mysterious face of God’s shining love.” Our attitude, indeed, is often the only thing within our control, and we need to take consolation in any glimpse of God’s face, however fleeting. I love your example of a community “sowing seeds together,” and your analogy helped me to really appreciate two such experiences I was blessed to have yesterday. Thank you.

      • Gilly Beardmore says:

        Dear Elaine,

        I revisited holiday at Holidays at Home for the elderly again this morning. I delivered personalised thank you letters to those who had made items for the baby baths, crafted cards and made donations .

        Henri’s presence was there again. Evelyn wanted to see me. I found her and she had brought us a bag of knitted premature baby clothes perfectly made and three “memory” blankets to wrap stillborns in for their final photo with Mum and Dad. Evelyn then told me of the physio she had had on a broken elbow. Then with her face glowing in smiles and light and as I hugged her goodbye she told me she was in her 90th yes 90th year. There was such love and vitality in her eyes . Little did she know that the love expressed in her skilful knitting hands had ministered to my fear of ageing. Her attitude was such an example.

        So through Henri’s writing and our discussions together here I felt the mystery of God smiling on us all.

        God bless you Elaine and thank you Father for Henri ‘s honest words and the reality of Evelyn’s presence. They all lay the path to trusting you in all things .

        Gilly

  12. Elaine says:

    This was perhaps one of the most challenging essays I have ever read. It is so hard for me to reconcile the tension between how much I can—and should– still accomplish and “how I can live [in peace, acceptance, and joyful anticipation] so that my death will be fruitful to others.” Though I believe in my heart of hearts that I am the beloved child of an all-loving and merciful God, it is still hard to shake off childhood lessons about the punishments of a God of justice. Intellectually and spiritually, I accept the idea that loss and suffering can be “passages to something new, something wider, and deeper,” but of course, that is easier said than done. As I age, there have been many fears: the youth culture’s attitude toward the elderly, fear of the loss of physical and mental faculties, fear of being a burden to loved ones, fear that Alzheimer’s or another cruel disease will leave my loved ones with anything but an inspiring last view of me. I agree that “perfect love casts out fear,” but my own fears demonstrate how far I am from that perfect love.

    Henri says that in the end, the Apostles shook off their fears and “knew who they were and where they were going.” I pray that I might learn to do the same. In the meantime, I take consolation from Henri’s gentle encouragement that “life is just a little opportunity for you … to say, ‘I love you.’” I will work on that. I am grateful to all of you who have shown me the way. As always, I am sad to see another Henri Nouwen book discussion coming to an end. Thanks for your encouragement, wisdom, and expert moderation, Ray.

    • Cel says:

      Elaine, I love your post and resonate with what you’ve written. I appreciate this discussion forum because it offers us a chance to be vulnerable, write about our struggles to live as beloved children and support each other – forming and nurturing a form of that community Henri challenges us to develop.

  13. David Brown says:

    My prayers go out to Shelby at the loss of her roommate. As a retired pastor of 40 yrs. I shared the experience of loss and death with many. There are no easy answers to the mystery of loss and death, yet God’s love and welcome home adds comfort. Nouwen’s book Our Greatest Gift” seems to help my understanding and sharing with others. He believes that when we die we somehow add meaning to the whole human race through are participation in the mystery of death in a world human community sense.(Every life and death makes a profound difference) Nouwen says we are brothers and sisters to one another, We all are joined together in that we are all chosen ,blessed, broken and given. this makes us all beloved children of God. God bless and comfort all who struggle with this mystery-know you are never alone.

  14. Charles says:

    This has been an excellent book study, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the discussions and observations of all who have posted. The last chapter is one of particular interest to me. I don’t want to say I am fixated on death, or dwell on it, but it is something that has always been at the forefront of my thoughts.
    Quite honestly, I did not come away from this chapter with any less fear of the proposition, but as Henri Nouwen indicated, it is a rather large unknown to us, and the fear is therefore quite understandable. I suppose that if we could recall, and if we had the ability to formulate emotions, we would have experienced a similar type of fear at the time we were born. As Henri Nouwen suggests, life is a series of passages, and this is one of them.
    I do like the way he stressed the impact we can have on others in our death. He stated that the real question is not what I will do with the time I have left, or will I be a burden on others, but instead, how can I live so that my death will be fruitful to others. We all have a limited amount of time left, and that amount of time is unknown. We really must be mindful of our every action, all in an effort to make that death fruitful. I am quite uncertain about what that death will be like for me, but at least to a large degree I can have an impact on how it will affect others, and maybe even those who over time I had minimal contact with, and who maybe did not even know me.
    I was trying to find a book I have that references a novel where the character was dying, and what he did in his death. I thought I found the book, but could not locate the passage. In any event, the character in the novel was dying, and he took the opportunity to invite his friends to visit him one by one, and express to them how much they meant to him and how valuable their friendship was to him during the time they knew one another. That would certainly be of a positive nature in terms of the impact of one’s death on others. Of course, the character had the opportunity to do this, now everyone is so fortunate. So it really is important how we live out each and every one of our days.
    This chapter certainly did not answer all my questions, or quell my fears, but it moved me a step closer, so for that I am grateful. I shall keep searching. One thing I can rest assured, one day I will have my answers.

    • Kathryn Hogue says:

      It sounds like the story in “Tuesdays with Morrie”. It was certainly a story of love and community through a frightening illness, ALS. A positive action for his friends, himself and God.
      Kathryn

      • Charles says:

        Interesting. I will have to check that out. I found the reference to this novel (I believe it is a French novelist as I recall), in a book by Cardinal Justin Regali. It is a series of writings on various topics, and this one was a “Christian Death.” I will see if I can find the name of that novel, as I have been wanting to find a copy! When locate it, I will post it.

      • John says:

        Kathryn, sounds like we both enjoyed “Tuesdays with Morrie”. As I reflect on Henri’s words, I think about how gracious and grateful Morrie was during his last days. Such an example, he was. I think the Lord was sending me a message. I am grateful for that message and for your reminder.

  15. Ray Glennon says:

    Facilitator Note: Reply to post from last week submitted late Saturday night. Included here aa well.

    From Sharon

    It had never occurred to me that Mary and Joseph and Elizabeth and others, before Jesus was born, were practicing a spiritual “waiting” as we do, until Henri Nouwen wrote so eloquently about it. For 25 years at my church I have been involved in so much active service that I’ve been neglecting the “waiting” part. Finally, it all became burdensome and now I am taking a page from St. Francis path and looking to nature (voluntarily caring for the church’s flower beds), keeping a more disciplined prayer life, and particularly caring for the poor (which means doing volunteer work with the elderly in a nursing home close to my home). Henri Nouwen’s spiritual teachings are so meaningful to me, his insights into “coming home” so profound and I know somehow that this well contains “living water.” I look forward to reading more of the book and all the blog entries.

    • Ann says:

      Sharon, your post yesterday was so profound for me. Our 22 year old granddaughter’s college roommate has been fighting for her life for 5 weeks after suffering multiple strokes and brain surgeries. Our Shelby has been at her side every day praying for her and holding her hand, etc. she went off life support this morning at 8:00 and died at 10:02. Your post about knowing that you could act, or wish to, or have exhausted all human ways, but choose to wait and see what God will bring instead held so much meaning for me. All human ways were exhausted in her young life and at 10:02 Jesus gently lifted her and carried her home. Praise God who is always sovereign. Thank you for allowing me to share about Mackenzie’s homecoming. I ask all of you to pray for her family and friends and to lift up our granddaughter, Shelby, who is grieving so deeply for her friend. Thank you.

      • Ray Glennon says:

        Ann,
        May the Lord welcome Mackenzie into heaven with open arms and may the Lord’s peace comfort her family and friends. And may the love of Jesus comfort your granddaughter Shelby in her loss and in gratitude for her commitment, service, and love of her friend.
        All are in my prayers.
        Ray

      • Nuala Doherty says:

        Dear Ann,
        I don’t have words to say at this very sad time. I can’t imagine the pain that Shelby will be feeling. I am sure, though that Shelby’s presence with her dear friend will somehow have assisted Mackenzie’s passage from this world to the next. Please be assured of my prayers for Shelby and Mackenzie’s family and friends. May Mackenzie rest in the Father’s loving and tender embrace.

      • Cel says:

        I’ve been praying for Shelby, and for Mackenzie’s family, since your post. It’s so much harder to be at peace with death, and to see it as an invitation to a new life, when it takes someone young, whose life is all ahead of them. I’ve especially prayed that the fruits of Mackenzie’s life will bring comfort to those who miss her and enable them more easily to move into the new relationship with her that Henri talks about. I’ve helped begin and have been co-chair of our parish’s Bereavement Ministry for nearly 30 years. We “adopt” a grieving family and send them periodic cards for a year after a death. We get the most comments from families when we send the one on the anniversary of death. They are so grateful that we still remember their loved one since the world always pressures people to “get on with life.” As I continue this ministry I know I’m going to remember Henri’s gentle words.

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