I’ve managed to continue reading Henri Nouwen’s Finding My Way Home, on and off, since the time I posted about it. The ‘delays’ are helpful; each time I pick up from where I left off, I tend to find the chapter I’m at appropriate for the (reprised) challenges of the moment.
Finished reading the essay, The Path of Peace, and am reminded of Henri’s friend, Adam, whom I first read about in Henri’s journal, Sabbatical Journey.
“Adam keeps revealing to me, over and over again and in his own clear way, that what makes 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. … by ‘heart’ I do not mean the seat of human emotions in contrast to the mind as the seat of human thought. No, by heart I mean the centre of our being where God comes to dwell with us and bring us the divine gifts of trust, hope and love. The mind tries to understand, grasp problems, discern different aspects of reality, and probe the mysteries of life. The heart allows us to enter into relationships and experience that we are sons and daughters of God and of our parents, as well as brothers and sisters of one another. Long before our minds were able to exercise their potential, our hearts were developing trusting human relationships. And in fact I am convinced that these trusting human relationships even precede the moment of our birth.” (p.54-55)
“I have told you about Adam and his peace to offer you a quiet guide with a gentle heart who gives you a little light to guide you through this dark world. Adam does not solve anything. Even with all the support he receives, he cannot change his own utter poverty. As he grows older, he grows poorer and poorer and poorer. A little infection, an unhappy fall, an accidental swallowing of his own tongue during seizure, and many other small incidents may take him suddenly away from us. When he dies, nobody will be able to boast about anything.
And still, what a light he brings! In Adam’s name, I therefore say to you: Do not give up working for peace. Always remember that the peace for which you work is not of this world. Do not let yourself be distracted by the great noises of war, the dramatic descriptions of misery, and the sensational expressions of human cruelty. … They tend to creaete feelings of shame, guilt, and powerlessness, and these feelings are the worst motives for peace work. … See the one who touches the lame, the crippled, and the blind; the one who speaks words of forgiveness and encouragement; the one who dies alone, rejected and despised. Keep your eyes on him who becomes poor with the poor, weak with the weak, and who is rejected with the rejected. That one, Jesus, is the source of all peace.
Where is his peace to be found? The answer is surprising but it is clear. In weakness. Few people are telling us this truth, but there is peace to be found in our own weakness, in those places of our hearts where we feel most broken, most insecure, most in agony, most afraid. Why there? Because in our weakness our familiar ways of controlling and manipulating our world are being stripped away and we are forced to let go from doing much, thinking much, and relying on our self-sufficiency. Right there where we are most vulnerable, the peace that is not of this world is mysteriously hidden.” (p.64-65)