By Henri J. M. Nouwen
Discovering religion in a Time of Sorrow liked writer Henri Nouwen displays at the religious importance of loss of life and existence during this relocating meditation devoted to "all those that endure the discomfort that demise can carry and who look for new life."
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We both have to ask ourselves what mother’s death means, and we both are confronted in a new way with our own deaths. The fact that you are “already” seventysix and I am “only” forty-seven is not a real hindrance to a common meditation on death. I think, in fact, that mother’s death has taken away much of the age difference between us, so that the prospect of dying and death is not really different for you and for me. Once you have reached the top of the mountain, it does not make much difference at which point on the way down you take a picture of the valley—as long as you are not in the valley itself.
38 Mother’s death is certainly one of the most crucial experiences of both our lives, perhaps even the most crucial. Before her death, it was impossible to know even vaguely what it would do to us. Now we are beginning to sense its impact. Gradually we are able to see where it is leading us. A new confrontation with death is taking place, a confrontation that we could never have created ourselves. Whatever we felt, said, or thought about death in the past was always within the reach of our own emotional or intellectual capacities.
My whole being is rooted in the Eucharist. For me, to be a priest means to be ordained to present Christ every day as food and drink to my fellow Christians. I sometimes wonder if those who are close to me are sufficiently aware of the fact that the Eucharist constitutes the core of my life. I do so many other things and have so many secondary identities—teacher, speaker, and writer—that it is easy to consider the Eucharist as the least important part of my life. But the opposite is true. The Eucharist is the center of my life and everything else receives its meaning from that center.
A Letter of Consolation by Henri J. M. Nouwen
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