A Letter of Consolation by Henri J. M. Nouwen

By Henri J. M. Nouwen

Discovering religion in a Time of Sorrow liked writer Henri Nouwen displays at the non secular value of dying and lifestyles during this relocating meditation devoted to "all those that undergo the discomfort that dying can deliver and who look for new life."

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It takes a good driver to know when to use his brakes! This is far from theoretical, as you well 49 know. We have both seen how some of our friends could not accept unforeseen changes in their lives and were unable to deal with an unknown future. When things went differently than they had expected or took a drastic turn, they did not know how to adjust to the new situation. Sometimes they became bitter and sour. Often they clung to familiar patterns of living that were no longer adequate and kept repeating what once made sense but no longer could speak to the real circumstances of the moment.

Fear of death often drives us into death, but by befriending death, we can face our mortality and choose life freely. But how do we befriend death? During the 31 last few years you have seen many deaths—even of people you knew quite well. They have touched you, shocked you, surprised you, and even caused you grief, but when mother died it seemed as if death came to you for the first time. Why? I think because love—deep, human love—does not know death. The way you and mother had become one, and the way this oneness had deepened itself during forty-seven years of marriage, did not allow termination.

The same love that forms the basis of our grief is also the basis of our hope; the same love that makes us cry out in pain also must enable us to develop a liberating intimacy with our own most basic brokenness. Without faith, this must sound like a contradiction. But our faith in him whose love overcame death and who rose from the grave on 33 the third day converts this contradiction into a paradox, the most healing paradox of our existence. Floris Bakels experienced this in a unique way. ” Surrounded by people dying from hunger, torture, and total exhaustion, and knowing quite well that any hour could be his hour to die, he found in the core of his being a love so strong and so profound that the fear of death lost its power over him.

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