Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen (January 24, 1932 – September 21, 1996) was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian. His interests were rooted primarily in psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community. Over the course of his life, Nouwen was heavily influenced by the work of Anton Boisen, Thomas Merton, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, and Jean Vanier.
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When we honestly ask ourselves which people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
Our moment had passed somehow. I was different. He was, too. Without our “madness” to unite us, there wasn’t anything much there. Or maybe too much had happened in too short a time. It’s like when you take a trip with someone you don’t know very well. Sometimes you can get very close very quickly, but then after the trip is over, you realize all that was a false sort of closeness. An intimacy based on the trip more than the travelers, if that makes any sense.