Henri Nouwen on Brokenness

Enjoying this writing from Henri Nouwen these days… He is helping me reflect on the deeper truths of life and in a fresh way too. I will let his words take it from here:

Maybe the word loneliness best expresses our immediate experience and therefore most fittingly enables us to understand our brokenness…

…the Christian way of life does not take away our loneliness; it protects and cherishes it as a precious gift….but perhaps the painful awareness of loneliness is an invitation to transcend our limitations and look beyond the boundaries of our existence. The awareness of loneliness might be a gift we must protect and guard, because our loneliness reveals to us an inner emptiness that can be destructive when misunderstood, but filled with promise for those who can tolerate its sweet pain…

…when we are impatient, when we want to give up our loneliness and try to overcome the separation and incompleteness we feel, we easily relate to our human world with devastating expectations. We ignore what we already know with a deep seated, intuitive knowledge-that no love or friendship, no intimate embrace or tender kiss, no community, commune, or collective, no man or woman, will ever be able to satisfy our desire to be released from our lonely condition.

This truth is so disconcerting and painful that we are more prone to play games with our fantasies than to face the truth of our existence. Thus we keep hoping that one day we will find the man who really understands our experiences, the woman who will bring peace to our restless life, the job where we can fulfill our potentials, the book that will explain everything, and place where we can feel at home…

…and when ministers live with these false expectations and illusions they prevent themselves from claiming their own loneliness as a source of human understanding, and are thus unable to offer any real service to the many who do not understand their own suffering.

Nouwen in The Wounded Healer


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