And, he’s dead.
And, a priest.
That makes perfect sense to me…Always attracted to those sensitive spiritual unavailable unliving types. Ha!
Is it reflective of a bad bonding pattern? He sounds like me in every way, right down to the unliving part…Abandonment issues & the flip side of that, emeshment issues, make for conflictive & heartwrending relationships. The pull, the push, boundaries floundering. Fully alive though not fully living.
I had had a previous encounter with his words, though I admit I wasn’t familiar with the man that penned them. I didn’t even remember his name. While recently wandering the streets of the internet we were reacquainted by chance. I just ran across him whilst searching for another.
Come to find, he was a prolific published author (& an Aquarius!), but I didn’t know that. I’m a writer not a reader! Reading just requires more intake & I’m full to the brim. I write to get things out. I tested as ‘learning disabled’ when it comes to reading comprehension & retention. And I tend to be a rambling stream of consciousness writer, having tested with excellent scores in English language & spelling. Strange isn’t it? I digress. This paragraph is a case in point. Now back to my soulmate…
Henri Nouwen was his name. (Check out the society created in his honor). He was a Catholic priest, professor, writer & theologian whose interests included psychology, spirituality, pastoral ministry & working for social justice (uh…soulmate material, except for the ‘catholic-priests-take-a-vow-of-celibacy’ part).
He was born in the Netherlands in the early part of the 20th century (I love foreigners; so of course that fits). He struggled with clinical depression, & tried to reconcile his mental illness with his Faith. I can relate to him as a fellow catholic; as a spiritual seeker; & as someone struggling with clinical depression & panic/social anxiety disorder. I too try to reconcile all of the above. (Maybe I should have been a priestess? Oh no wait, that’s a whole other discussion & I think I’ve stepped in a sin or two already).
How do we be with ourselves & with others, concordantly, most effectively? I so want to be the comforter & the comfortee. Separate yet equal, can it be? Personally & professionally?
“When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is they who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain & touch our wounds with a warm & tender hand. 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 & bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing & face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” ~ Henri Nouwen (1932-1996)
On a purely personal level, what Henri is suggesting in the quote above requires a huge amount of trust, whether you find yourself on the giving or receiving end. Finding a soul of Kindred Kind renewed my belief that if even for a brief shining moment, we are drawn to find what we need, when we need it….Whenever, whoever, however, & in whatever form it shares itself, with unconditionally humble, tender, loving care.
On a purely professional level, as someone in the healing arts, I feel it is my honor & duty to have the mindset of which Henri wrote, to bear witness to another’s pain as well as to “touch…wound[s] with a warm & tender hand”. In my professional capacity, it is a one way street. I for them is how it needs to be. A still mind, a tenderly strong heart & healthy boundaries are the safety net for exposed free-falls.
“Caring…is daring. The giving AND receiving of ourselves is a vulnerable act of bravery. It is a necessity, if we are to be fully enlivened. Just be present. Caring without condition, from the heart, is a Gift like no other.” ~ Maggie Begley, Fundamental Field Practitioner
Such powerlessness is an uncomfortable predicament, terrifying for most human beings. As practitioners we are supposed to be the ‘doers’ that are being commissioned to act as healing agents. I have found that powerlessness is empowering in its own way. It is freeing for both parties if approached with a sort of detachment. Holding the space to ‘let it be’ is a worthy space to be in & of.
“Empathetic listening is without intervention, no criticism, no advice, no interpretation.” ~ Tess Castleman, Jungian Analyst