Henri Nouwen: Moment of Togetherness

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The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. Psalm 34:18-19

“Somehow my life at Daybreak has given me eyes to discover joy where many others see only sorrow. Talking with a homeless man on a Toronto street doesn’t feel so frightening anymore. Soon money is not the main issue. It becomes: “Where are you from? Who are your friends? What is happening in your life?” Eyes meet, hands touch, and there is–yes, often completely unexpected–a smile, a burst of laughter, and a true moment of joy. The sorrow is still there, but something has changed by my no longer standing in front of others by sitting with them and sharing a moment of togetherness.

And the immense suffering of the world? How can there be joy among the dying, the hungry, the prostitutes, the refugees, and the prisoners? How does anyone dare to speak about joy in the face of the unspeakable human sorrows surrounding us? And yet, there is! For anyone who has the courage to enter human sorrows deeply, there is a revelation of joy, hidden like a precious stone in the wall of a dark cave.”

Henri Nouwen in Can You Drink The Cup? (Notre Dame: Ave Maria, 2006) 49-50.

What Jesus had with people like the woman at the well or what Henri had with this homeless man on a Toronto Street is aptly described as a “moment of togetherness.” We serve a God that draws near to us.

When, like our Lord, we draw near to others, especially the brokenhearted and crushed, something happens in us. We discover unspeakable, unexpected, and pure joy.

I wrestle with the knowledge I carry that of so many people who are suffering in this world. I was just talking about this with my brothers at the Pinehurst Bible Study yesterday.

Then I read this hours later. It inspired me to move toward the broken. Engage with them in moments of togetherness, and therein I will find the joy to replace the sorrow.

I am confident I will find Christ there in unimaginable ways. And this relates to generosity because it’s my gift to the person and the joy I receive is God’s gift to me.