A little Henri Nowen for the day

Long, but REALLY good.  :)

Henri Nouwen- The Essential Henri Nouwen

Drinking the cup life... is saying, "this is my life," but also "I want this to be my life." Drinking the cup of life is fully appropriating and internalizing our own unique existence, with all its sorrows and joys. It is not easy to do this. For a long time we might not feel capable of accepting our own life; we might keep fighting for a better or at least different life. Often a deep protest against our "fate" arises in us. We didn't choose our country, our parents, the color of our skin, our sexual orientation.  We didn't even choose our character, intelligence, physical appearance, or mannerisms. Sometimes we want to do every possible thing to change the circumstances of our life. We wish we were in another body, lived in another time, or had another mind!  A cry can come out of our depths: "Why do I have to be this person? I didn't ask for it, and I don't want it."

But as we gradually come to befriend our own reality, to look with compassion at our own sorrow and joys, and as we are able to discover the unique potential of our way of being in the world, we can move beyond our protest, put the cup of life to our lips and drink it, slowly, carefully, but fully.

Often when we wish to comfort people, we say: “Well, it is sad this has happened to you, but try to make the best of it.” But “making the best of it' is not what drinking the cup is about. Drinking our cup is not simply adapting ourselves to a bad situation and trying to use it as well as we can. Drinking our cup is a hopeful, courageous, and self-confident way of living. It is standing in the world with head erect, solidly rooted in the knowledge of who we are, facing the reality that surrounds us, and responding to it from our hearts.

Your pain, deep as it is, is connected with specific circumstances. You do not suffer in the abstract. You suffer because someone hurts you at a specific time in a specific place. Your feelings of rejection, abandonment, and uselessness are rooted in the most concrete events. In this way all suffering is unique. This is eminently true of the suffering of Jesus. His disciples left him, Pilot condemned him, Roman soldiers tortured him and crucified him. 

Still, as long as you keep pointing to the specifics, you will miss the full meaning of your pain. You will deceive yourself into believing that if the people, circumstances, and the events had been different, your pain would not exist. This might be partly true, but the deeper truth is that the situation that brought about your pain was simply the form in which you came in touch with the human condition of suffering. Your pain is the concrete way which you participate in the pain of humanity.

Paradoxically, therefore, healing means moving from your pain to the pain. When you keep focusing on the specific circumstances of your pain, you easily become angry, resentful, and even vindictive. You are inclined to do something about the externals of your pain in order to relieve it; this explains why you often seek revenge. But real healing comes from realizing that our own particular pain is a share in humanities pain. That realization allows you to forgive your enemies and enter into a truly compassionate life. That is the way of Jesus, ...