It does not take long when reading Henri Nouwen, for one to realize the depth of wisdom, experience, insight, sacrifice and reflection that his life can offer. I have been drawn to his writings for 20 years or so and find myself journeying back to some of the same pieces over and over.
His writing is significant in Christian Spiritual Formation, but really it is the fact that he lived life well that matters most. He made choices in favor of people, for the sake of the Kingdom in spite of personal gain. And God has been glorified.
These words of his are incubating in my mind right now: "the friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief or bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing....not healing...not curing...that is a friend who cares." Currently, my heart is aching for several friends who are going through VERY tough things and I am a fixer by nature. I work to not be. Did you catch that? And while I absolutely value "presence" and just being able to "be" with people in their hardest moments, my brain goes into overdrive and begins searching for ways to "help." Unless I told you that is what was happening in my mind, you might never guess, but it's happening in every moment of crisis.
I love Nouwen's call to put down the flawed idea of savior and pick up the beautiful role of present friend. This kind of presence can only come out of the overflow of a heart so turned to God that His peace defines, His comfort is tangible and His character is trusted. And so my heart is convicted that as we walk alongside the ones we love, being attentive to God on their behalf, the real job is making oneself available to hear what it is that God is whispering in intimate hushed tones. It is less about what we can do for people and way more about who we are for people because of who God is.