Sunday, January 09, 2011

"The Path of Waiting," Henri Nouwen

With the coming of the new year, spent in new settings and with newfound confidence, I'm thinking a lot about where I was this time last year. It was not a good time for me. The first week of 2010, I woke up from the three-month fog and illness associated with the beginning phase of Lyme disease treatment, and discovered that I was actually feeling better. Hope, which had been pretty much squashed into the ground, began to perk up a little. But almost simultaneously, my personal life fell apart in an incredibly gruesome way. A wound opened up in me, pouring out agony that couldn't be stanched.

One of the things that was happening at the time was a grieving process for all I had lost to illness. As symptoms began to drop away, I tried to figure out when was the last time I had really felt well, and realized it was sometime before I went to college. That's right, a fair estimate of how long I had had the disease was ten years - the entire span of my twenties. During that decade, I had watched many other people my age pursue careers, get married, have children, go to graduate school, and buy homes. Meanwhile, I had quit school, stopped full-time work, abandoned plans to finish my undergraduate degree, and moved back in with my family. And I really had no way of estimating when I would feel well enough to have a "normal" life again.

The other day I happened upon a chapter in Henri Nouwen's Finding My Way Home called "The Path of Waiting." Over the past few years, I have thought a lot about the theme of waiting in my life (along with other important themes like silence and listening). Nouwen's thoughts about waiting in this brief essay helped to catalyze some of my own ideas. Over the next few blog posts, I want to move through Nouwen's essay to discuss waiting a bit more deeply.

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