What a wonderful mystery this is! Our greatest
fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others. Although it often seems that
people give only to receive, I believe that, beyond all our desires to be
appreciated, rewarded, and acknowledged, there lies a simple and pure desire to
give…Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful
people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an
embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life…all of our life.~~Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved
I've been dawdling my way through Nouwen's book in part because I wanted each chapter to be fresh as I worked my way through a sermon series using his ideas that, like the bread, we are each taken/chosen, blessed, broken and given.
This is a re-read for me. It seemed just right as a starting point in my new setting for ministry, both as an introduction to some of my thoughts on a life of faith and a platform for some personal storytelling, to help people get to know me. After a long pastorate, no matter how people at church felt about the former pastor, they knew him and his family well. I want them to feel they know me, too.
I didn't remember the epilogue of the book, in which Nouwen admits that even though he was trying to reach a secular friend, the friend still felt the book was too, as my kids would say, religious-y. It's definitely language that works for me, and that probably proves the point. It challenges me to think more about how we talk to faith with people who do not share our vocabulary.
This is a great little book.