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The Wounded Prodigal Within Us

From Henri Nouwen’s  A Spirituality of Living

“We all have wounds…….It is a feeling of loneliness that lurks behind our successes, a feeling of uselessness that hides under all the praise we receive…….that makes us grab onto people and expect from them an affection and love they cannot give. If we want other people to give us something that only God can give, we become a heavy burden.”

Nouwen goes on to say: “I love Rembrandt’s painting The Return of the Prodigal Son. The father holds his child, touches his child, and says, ‘You are my beloved. I’m not going to ask you any questions. Wherever you have gone, whatever you have done, and whatever people say about you, you’re my beloved. You can come home to me whose name is Compassion, whose name is Love.’

Nouwen says, “ If we keep that in mind, we can deal with an enormous amount of success as well as an enormous amount of failure without losing our identity, because our identity is that we are the beloved. Long before our father and mother, our brothers and sisters, our teachers, our church or anyone else touched us in a loving or wounding way —— long before we were rejected by some person or praised by someone else-that voice was there. ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love.’

That love was there before we were born and will be there after we die. A life of fifty, sixty, seventy, or a hundred years is just a little moment in which we have been given time to say, ‘Yes, I love you too.’ ”

Henri Nouwen was a priest theologian/author who toward his later years went to live and minister in a settlement for the mentally challenged.
This quote is from a tiny gem of a book put together from insights from his other books, called A Spirituality of Living.

What Number Spells Success?

Creative people often fall short in the area of persevering. I think  we fear if we finish something and put it out there for acceptance and it’s rejected, we will have to face our greatest fear: “We are not good enough.”

The truth is no one is “good” enough for everyone. Flannery O’Conner and Margaret Atwood depress me. But the popular romance novelists bore me.

I’m having to face that I am not a great significant writer, but unfortunately I’m not superficial enough to be popular either. And I don’t have a tiny fraction of the talent of my favorite writer, Anne Lamott.

Although I would certainly love to make some money and I would greatly enjoy feeling successful, the truth is what I mostly want is to share what I’ve learned in seventy-eight years that I value deeply.

And there have been times when I’ve gotten feedback that I blogged or shared something that I’ve written that has spoken to someone else’s condition. It didn’t save them from pain or ever making mistakes or change the direction of their life, but for a moment in time they either didn’t feel alone or they saw something in a new way that was meaningful for them. I do think there are probably others out there that I will never know about that respond to what I share.

The question for me then is: How many people does it take to make it worth the struggle and time spent writing and risking being told that I am not good enough?

Dear fellow writers, the answer both scares and frees me.

I’m pretty sure the person I most try to follow would say. “One.”