I have read several of Henri Nouwen’s books, including one that I read at my mother’s bed side as she was dying, and have found immense comfort and care in his words. He speaks so honestly, humbly, and creatively about suffering and the realities of the life of a christian. He leads his readers to adore Christ and it has made me hungry to read more of his works. And though he is Catholic, I have found so much common ground in his writing that can be read and admired by any believer, whether protestant or Catholic.
I read this book, Adam: God’s Beloved, in less than 2 hours and I was struck by the beauty and simplicity in language that Henri uses to describe his friend, Adam, to us. Adam was a profoundly disabled man that Henri lived with at L’Arche at Daybreak in Toronto, ON. Here are a few beautiful quotes that I had to share in describing the reality of Adam being a whole person made in the image of God and the realities of suffering and resurrection.
“Adam was sent to bring Good News to the world. It was his mission, as it was the mission of Jesus. Adam was–very simply, quietly, and uniquely–there! He was a person, who by his very life announced the marvelous mystery of our God: I am precious, beloved, whole, and born of God. Adam bore silent witness to this mystery, which has nothing to do with whether or not he could speak, walk, or express himself, whether or not he made money, had a job, was fashionable, famous, married, or single. It had to do with his being. He was and is a beloved child of God. It is the same news that Jesus came to announce, and it is the news that all those who are poor keep proclaiming in and through their very weakness” (p. 36-37).
“Adam’s whole life was passion, a life of suffering in which he underwent everything that was done for him, to him, with him, and around him. His was primarily the suffering of complete dependence on other people’s actions and decisions…Adam’s passion for me was a profound prophetic witness. His life and especially his passion radically criticized those of us who give ourselves to the norms of a society driven by individualism, materialism, and sensationalism. Adam’s total dependence made it possible for him to live fully only if we lived in a loving community around him. His great teaching to us was, ‘I can live only if you surround me with love and if you love one another. Otherwise, my life is useless and I am a burden'” (p. 84; 90).
“This was so final. I looked at Adam’s casket deep in the grave with one simple bouquet of flowers on top it, and I knew without a doubt that Adam would never be with us again. Loads of soil would cover his body, and gradually it would become part of the earth surrounding it. It was in front of that big hole that I was confronted with the finality of death as well as with the hope in the resurrection. We all felt it…” (p. 114).
“Is this when his resurrection began, in the midst of my grief?…Mourning turns to dancing, grief turns to joy, despair turns to hope, and fear turns to love. Then hesitantly someone is saying, ‘He is risen, he is risen indeed'” (p. 120).