Friday, October 8, 2010


I have been reading again. When I went back to the states at the beginning of the year I visited a dear friend/supporter of mine in Portland, Oregon. I will never forget the look on her face when she heard that I had read only 2 or 3 books in the years that I have been here in Germany. The reason, of course, was to stay away from English and enter into the language of the land, German. The end result… not so good.

You see I am a reader. I usually have 7-10 books going at once. I love to read. Reading is a favorite pastime. Since the early 90’s I have not owned a television (not to say anything negative about people that do – ours just kept blowing up!) I got used to no TV and replaced the time with community, reading, and writing.

Anyway, while in the states she challenged me to begin reading again. The German is far enough along, I need some food for thought, and thus I am reading again.

One of the pastors I met with gave me a book entitled The Wounded Healer By: Henri Nouwen.

I have always enjoyed Nouwen's books. Nouwen had a way with stepping away from the norm and reaching out. I have always enjoyed his depth and his simplicity.

Some ideas on compassion and contemplatives:

“The compassionate man who points to the possibility of forgiveness helps others to free themselves from chains of their restrictive shame, allows them to experience their own guilt, and restores their hope for a future in which the lamb and the lion can sleep together.

But here we must be aware of the great temptation that will face the Christian minister of the future. Everywhere Christian leaders, men and women alike, have become increasingly aware of the need for more specific training and formation. This need is realistic and the desire for more professionalism in the ministry is understandable. But the danger is that instead of becoming free to let the spirit grow, the future minister may entangle himself in the complications of his own assumed competence and use his specialism as an excuse to avoid the much more difficult task of being compassionate. … the danger is that his skillful diagnostic eye will become more an eye for distance and detailed analysis then the eye of a compassionate partner. And if priests and ministers of tomorrow think that more skill training is the solution for the problem of Christian leadership for the future generations, they may end up being more frustrated and disappointed than the leaders of today. More training and structure are just as necessary as more bread for the hungry. But just as bread given without love can bring war instead of peace, professionalism without compassion will turn forgiveness into a gimmick, and the kingdom to come into a blindfold.

The minister as contemplative man

It is not the task of the Christian leader to go around nervously trying to redeem people, to save them at the last minute, to put them on the right track. For we are redeemed once and for all. The Christian leader is called to help others affirm this great news, and to make visible in daily events the fact that behind the dirty curtain of our painful symptoms there is something great to be seen; the face of Him in whose image we are shaped. In this way the contemplative can be a leader for a convulsive generation because he can break through the vicious circle of immediate needs asking for immediate satisfaction. He can direct the eyes of those who want to look beyond their impulses and steer their erratic energy into creative channels.

… The contemplative is not needy or greedy for human contacts, but is guided by a vision of what he has seen beyond the trivial concerns of a possessive world. He does not bounce up and down with the fashions of the moment, because he is in contact with what is basic, central and ultimate. He does not allow anybody to worship idols, and he constantly invites his fellow man to ask real, often painful and upsetting questions, to look behind the surface of smooth behavior, and to take away all the obstacles that prevent him from getting to the heart of the matter. The contemplative critic takes away the illusory mask of the manipulative world and has the courage to show what the true situation is. He knows that he is considered by many as a fool, a madman, a danger to society and a threat to mankind. But he is not afraid to die, since his vision makes him transcend the difference between life and death and makes him free to do what has to be done here and now, notwithstanding the risks involved.

More than anything else, he will look for signs of hope and promise in the situation in which he finds himself. The contemplative critic has the sensibility to notice the small mustard seed and trust to believe that “when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.” (Mt. 13.31-32)” excerpts from The Wounded Healer by Nouwen

Good stuff.

Also finished the book The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. Will share what hit me in that book later.

And the answer is: Le Louvre.