Connections.

27 Mar

This post begins with the connection between Rachel Held Evans and Henri Nouwen.

That sentence might make you say who?  Rachel Held Evans is the theologian and author of the book I quoted just a while ago on the blog.  Henri Nouwen was a theologian and priest; an author of many, many books, one of which I too just quoted a bit ago here.  I follow Rachel on twitter and read her blog.  I have more than a couple Nouwen books on my shelves and I pull them out from time to time; I find them full of enriching nuggets of faith and comfort.

This week, these two separate worlds collided in a super meaningful way.  I clicked on a tweet from Rachel with a link to her recent blog post; she’s been facilitating a discussion on gay marriage on her blog and using two separate books to guide the conversation. Both books are by gay men of faith but while one has chosen celibacy, the other believes a relationship with another man could be blessed by God.  [Curious more?  Here is the post of which I speak.]

Here is where my mind was blown: one of the books Rachel uses speaks of dear Mr. Nouwen at length.  I did not know that Nouwen was gay; heck, I didn’t even know that he was a priest before I began to eavesdrop on this conversation.  I knew that I loved his writing and that was about it.  But now, as it turns out, I love it more because I can relate to the places from which it comes.

Henri Nouwen was lonely.  He wrestled intensely with loneliness, persistent cravings for affection and attention, immobilizing fears of rejection, and a restless desire to find a home where he could feel safe and cared for. [p. 87]  To quote Rachel who quotes the book which quotes Philip Yancey –

Nouwen, who later in life confessed that he had known since he was six years old that he was attracted to members of his own sex, would, in lectures and books, “speak of the strength he gained from living in community, then drive to a friend’s house, wake him up at two in the morning, and, sobbing, ask to be held.”

Now granted, I am fully aware that I am not a celibate gay priest [really?  really.], nor am I in the least  marginalized because of my sexual orientation, but gosh, to some degree, I can relate to that.

I have begun the very healthy and wise practice of seeing a counselor.  We’ve only met twice but I can see why people do this.  It will be fruitful.  Just this last time we met, I was talking about something or other and her response to me was, It sounds like you’re lonely.  Bingo.

I’m still not super sure what to do about that besides – for some insane reason – choosing to be super vulnerable with the world and spill it on the blog.  [As if you didn’t already know.]  Knowing what I do about Henri Nouwen and as I google search and order his biography to learn more, I find myself drawn to his writing in deeper ways.  There are perhaps some other life changes looming on my horizon, too. I realize that I need to facilitate the move from being lonely; I think I’m working on it.  We’ll see where life takes me; hopefully in the direction of community, new friends, and a world of less lonely.

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