By Henri J. M. Nouwen
Discovering religion in a Time of Sorrow liked writer Henri Nouwen displays at the religious value of loss of life and lifestyles during this relocating meditation devoted to "all those that endure the ache that loss of life can deliver and who look for new life."
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Additional resources for A Letter of Consolation
I am writing so much about Bakels because I know that you, being of the same generation and the same profession, can understand him quite well and will lend him a sympathetic ear. He can indeed show you better than psychologists or psychoanalysts what it means to befriend death. Although you and I also tasted the terror of the Nazis, you as a young man who had to hide yourself to escape from deportation and I as a 35 fearful child, and although we all had to struggle hard to keep alive during the horrible “winter of hunger” in 1944-45, we were spared the horrors of the concentration camps and did not have to face death in the way Floris Bakels did.
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. They start to live as if they were thinking, “For me it is all over. ” As you can see, here the opposite of detachment is taking place; here is a reattachment that makes life stale 50 and takes all vitality out of existence. It is a life in which hope no longer exists.
This requires of us great detachment and even greater faith. But most of all, it calls us to an ever increasing surrender to the ways in which God chooses to manifest his love to us. 61 VI Today is Holy Thursday or, as you would say, White Thursday. As I continue this letter, I realize that this day enables me to write about death in a way that I could not before. ” On the night before his death, Jesus gave us the gift of his lasting presence in our midst in order to remind us in the most personal way that his death was a death for us.
A Letter of Consolation by Henri J. M. Nouwen