Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wise Words from Henri Nouwen

In this current season of my life, I am reminded that God wastes nothing.  A friend of mine recently sent this Henri Nouwen quote to me in an email.  I don't believe my wounds are still open and bleeding, so I am hoping I don't scare others away and that my wounds can become a gift to others. Praying you are able to let your open and bleeding wounds be lovingly tended...knowing this is painful but it is the way to healing.   Praying that those of you who have allowed your wounds to be tended are able to share this gift. 


Our own experience with loneliness, depression, and fear can become a gift for others, especially when we have received good care. As long as our wounds are open and bleeding, we scare others away. But after someone has carefully tended to our wounds, they no longer frighten us or others.

When we experience the healing presence of another person, we can discover our own gifts of healing. Then our wounds allow us to enter into a deep solidarity with our wounded brothers and sisters.

To enter into solidarity with a suffering person does not mean that we have to talk with that person about our own suffering. Speaking about our own pain is seldom helpful for someone who is in pain. A wounded healer is someone who can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about his or her own wounds. When we have lived through a painful depression, we can listen with great attentiveness and love to a depressed friend without mentioning our experience. Mostly it is better not to direct a suffering person’s attention to ourselves. We have to trust that our own bandaged wounds will allow us to listen to others with our whole beings. That is healing.”

-Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer, 1979.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Guess I missed posting this during Advent...it is almost Epiphany now.  I love this music, so I will share this old post I never published.

For those of us who celebrate Advent--the season of waiting and preparation before Christmas--tomorrow will be the first Sunday of Advent.  In the Episcopal Church we do not sing traditional Christmas carols in church until Christmas Day (and after for the twelve days of the Christmas season).   However, 12 days for all these beautiful hymns is just not long enough for me, so

I found myself singing this morning--at the top of my voice--one of my fav-o-rites from my Murrah Singers days, "O Magnum Mysterium."  I decided I wanted to sing along with the choir, so I put on the album ;-)  Yes, I still have a copy, AND I still have a turntable.

Listening to "O Holy Night"  for the first time this year, I was moved to tears and to my knees.  What else can I do when faced with such love--that He would humble himself to become like us to show us the way? 

The season of Advent (time of preparation and waiting) begins Sunday.  I am praying I will slow down instead of speed up like the world says I should this time of year.  I am praying I will intentionally love and give my best to those I hold dear...and to those I don't.  I am praying that Christ's love will flourish in my heart--and that I can truly rest in the truth that "the joy of the LORD is my strength"


O Magnum Mysterium is a responsorial chant from the Matins of Christmas.

Latin text

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

English translation

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

Hide and Seek

I try never to publish a post while I am in the pit of despair. I don’t want to deny the struggle or pretend it doesn’t exist, but I never want to leave it there. It has been my experience that even the darkest times eventually come to an end…or at least a lessening. There have been seasons when the light flooded in without me even having the strength (or wisdom) to look for it, but there have been more times when I have very actively had to search…or really, it is the daily quest and time invested in this relationship with Christ that allows me to be found when I am lost. He calls me by name, and I recognize His voice (even though I am very stubborn and easily distracted). I wrote this post several weeks ago, but I was hesitant to post it until I was sure I really believed it myself, if you know what I mean.

There are just sometimes when I belligerently want to focus on all I’ve lost instead of having a thankful heart. I can usually feel the ungratefulness and despair building to a destructive wave of sorrow mixed with anger and bitterness. Almost like I am playing a crazy game of hide-and-seek (picture Jack Nicholson in The Shining)--where I am the hider and the enemy of my heart is the seeker. Usually I end up kicking and screaming (in fear, anger and alone-ness) as the mean and hate-filled seeker gets closer—which most certainly gives away my (not so) good hiding place. Just as I fear I am about to be discovered, I usually remember that I don’t have to do this alone. Honestly, why do I forget so easily? There is One who never leaves me to do battle alone, who is willing to fight for me and with me, and from whom I never need hide...no matter how badly I have behaved while I was hiding-and-seeking with the enemy. (And I can behave pretty badly.) The turning back to a heart attitude of thankfulness, praise and humility seems to be the first step. Of course, it is only the power of the Holy Spirit that makes this turn possible…it is totally beyond anything I can do. What a mystery.

Peacefulness, which so recently seemed out of reach, returns. I am reminded that Christ is the only good hiding place. And He continues to seek after me whenever I go off hiding elsewhere.

Isaiah 61:3
and provide for those who grieve in Zion--
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,,
and the garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair

John 10:4
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Matthew 23:37
O Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

Luke 15: 4-6
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.