By Henri J. M. Nouwen
Discovering religion in a Time of Sorrow liked writer Henri Nouwen displays at the religious importance of loss of life and lifestyles during this relocating meditation devoted to "all those that undergo the ache that demise can convey and who look for new life."
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Extra resources for A Letter of Consolation
You like to be in control, able to make your own decisions and direct your own course. Experience has taught you that displaying weakness does not create respect and that it is safer to bear your burden in secret than to ask for pity. You never strove for power and influence, and even refused many positions that would have given you national recognition, but you fiercely guarded your own spiritual, mental, and economic autonomy. Not only did you in fact achieve an impressive amount of autonomy for yourself, but you also encouraged your children to become free and 46 independent people as soon as possible.
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. Death has often affected people in this way, as we know too well. The death of husband, wife, child, or friend can cause people to stop living toward the unknown future and make them withdraw into the familiar past. They keep holding on to a few precious memories and customs and see their lives as having come to a standstill.
I think, in fact, that mother’s death has taken away much of the age difference between us, so that the prospect of dying and death is not really different for you and for me. Once you have reached the top of the mountain, it does not make much difference at which point on the way down you take a picture of the valley—as long as you are not in the valley itself. I think, then, that our first task is to befriend death. ” I first heard it used by Jungian analyst James Hillman when he attended a seminar I taught on Christian 29 Spirituality at Yale Divinity School.
A Letter of Consolation by Henri J. M. Nouwen