Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Philip Yancey on one of his encounters with Henry Nouwen:

"My one extended conversation with Nouwen came just after he had returned from San Francisco, where he had served for a week in an AIDS clinic... He told me what he had seen in the Castro district... Young men were dying everyday, and thousands more walked around terrified that they were carrying the virus. Even as shops displayed gaudy T-shirts and sexual products ranging from the playful to the obscene, fear hung like a fog over the streets. Not only fear, he said, but also feelings of guilt and anger and rejection.

In the clinic, Nouwen listened to personal stories. "I'm a priest -- that's my job. I listen to people's stories. They confess to me." He told me of young men banished from their own families, forced to hustle on the street. Some of them had hundreds of partners whom they had met in bathhouses, whose names they had never learned, and from one of those partners they had contracted the virus that was now killing them. Nouwen looked at me, his piercing eyes bright with compassion and pain, "Phillip, those young men were dying -- literally dying -- because of their thirst for love"... The accounts all had in common a search for a safe place, for a safe relationship, for a home, for acceptance, for unconditional love, for forgiveness.

...Through Nouwen's eyes, I saw a new way to look at such people: not as immoral and ungodly, but as thirsty -- as people dying for love. Like the Samaritan woman at the well, they had drunk their fill of water that did not satisfy. They needed Living Water. After that conversation with Nouwen, whenever I encountered someone whose behavior offended or revolted me, I would always pray, "God, help me to see this person not as repulsive, but as thirsty."

The more I prayed that prayer, the more I began to see myself on the same side as the one who had repulsed me. I, too, have nothing to offer God but my thirst. Like the elder brother in the parable [The Parable of the Prodigal Son], I can never experience the cleansing flow of God's grace or enter the family celebration if I stand outside the banquet hall, arms folded in a posture of moral superiority. God's grace comes a s free gift, but only one who has open hands can receive a gift."

                                                                                                                       (from Soul Survivor)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...