Henri Nouwen is one of my favorite writers, spiritual or otherwise, a person whose writing, prayers and meditations usually seem as if they’re written just for me. I’ve heard other people say the same thing – it’s as if he speaks right to them. What an incredible God-given gift he has. While Henri is no longer with us, his words and spirit live on. On a recent day, one of Nouwen’s short meditations led me to think about my friends, old and new, who are at different stages of life’s journey.
I also remembered something I’ve experienced many times over the past 18 years. The first time was right after my first trip overseas, a wonderful pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1992. When I got back, I shared about it with my family and friends at home, but felt an emptiness inside when I realized I couldn’t call my Mom and tell her about the trip. Mom had died the year before, and this trip was the first major event in my life since she passed away that I wanted to tell her about but couldn’t. I discovered a new empty space in my heart. In a way, I believe that Mom was with me on that trip and has been watching me since then. Even so, it would have been great to tell her about the trip and hear her voice responding. She was always interested in what her children and grandchildren were doing, and I’m glad she and I became closer during the last few years of her life.
This reflection by Henri Nouwen brought that to mind, and gave me a wonderful perspective on our life journeys:
Travelling – seeing new sights, hearing new music, and meeting new people – is exciting and exhilarating. But when we have no home to return to where someone will ask us, “How was your trip?” we might be less eager to go. Travelling is joyful when we travel with the eyes and ears of those who love us, who want to see our slides and hear our stories.
This is what life is about. It is being sent on a trip by a loving God, who is waiting at home for our return and is eager to watch the slides we took and hear about the friends we made. When we travel with the eyes and ears of the God who sent us, we will see wonderful sights, hear wonderful sounds, meet wonderful people … and be happy to return home.
Let our journeys be all they can be – eyes, ears and hearts wide open!