|Life & Death

Henri Nouwen, Peacework, 2005:

Those who resist the power of death are called to search for life always and everywhere. The search for this tender and vulnerable life is the mark of the true resister. I have learned this from friends who have dedicated themselves to resistance. They have helped me to appreciated anew the beauty of life. One of them spends an afternoon every week visiting cancer patients, another works with the mentally disabled, a third spends time with lonely people in a psychiatric institution. Somehow their direct contact with the powers of death has made them aware of the preciousness of life and given them the desire to affirm life precisely where it is weak and very tender. Their quiet and unspectacular care for broken people has become for them a true form of resistance. (pp. 72-73)

Visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, consoling the dying, or sheltering the homeless may not catch the public eye and are often perceived as irrelevant when put in the perspective of a possible nuclear holocaust. There are many voices who say: “These little acts of mercy are a waste of time when we consider the urgency of stopping the arms race.” But the peacemaker knows that true peace is a divine gift which has nothing to do with statistics or measures of success and popularity. Peace is like life itself. It manifests itself quietly and gently. Who can say that a “lost afternoon” with a sick friend is in truth not much more than an interruption of “true” peacework? It might be the most real contribution to peace. Who knows? Jesus’ way is the humble way…. (Matt. 11:29). (pp. 76-77)


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