Item 1567 - Listen to pain with heart

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Reference code

CA ON00389 F4-9-1-1567

Title

Listen to pain with heart

Date(s)

  • September 6, 1974 (Creation)

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1 p. of textual records

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(1932-1996)

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This item is a half-page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Listen to pain with heart’, published in the National Catholic Reporter, September 6, 1974, p. 15. Nouwen begins this article by stating that ‘when my response to the world remains hanging between my mind and my hands, it remains weak and superficial….Only when my mind has descended into my heart can I expect a lasting response welling up from my innermost self’. Nouwen speaks of the solitude of the heart as the place from which effective and meaningful actions flow. ‘It is in the solitude of the heart that we can truly listen to the pains of the world because there we can recognize them as strange and unfamiliar pains but as pains which are indeed our own’. Nouwen suggests that it is from being in touch with out inner solitude that we can avoid self-righteousness and grow in compassion. Nouwen quotes several passages from the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, who speaks of the fruitfulness of solitude as a school for compassion. Nouwen concludes the article by stating ‘The paradox indeed is that the beginning of healing is in the solidarity with the pain. And in our solution-oriented society it is more important than ever to realize that wanting to alleviate pain without sharing it is like wanting to save a child from a burning house without the risk of being hurt’.

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Note

Published in National Catholic Reporter, 6 September 1974, p. 15.
There is a head shot photo of Nouwen, taken by Ron van den Bosch. See P6433 on Page 11 of Album 3 for a full-size version of the photo.
This article is published in a slightly revised form in: Chapter 3, A creative response, in Nouwen, Henri, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, Image Books, Doubleday, N.Y. 1974.

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Accession Number

2000 02

Location

Box 294

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