As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love (John 15:9-10).
Henri Nouwen was a Dutch priest who, for many years, lived in community with people with profound disabilities. Here, he writes about knowing and loving Adam, a young man who could neither move without assistance nor speak.
L’Arche became my community and Daybreak my home because of Adam — because of holding Adam in my arms and touching him in complete purity and complete freedom. Adam gave me a sense of belonging. He rooted me in the truth of my physical being, anchored me in community, and gave me a deep experience of God’s presence in our life together. Without having touched Adam, I don’t know where I would be today. Those first fourteen months at Daybreak, washing, feeding, and just sitting with Adam, gave me the home I had been yearning for; not just a home with good people but a home in my own body, in the body of my community, in the body of the church, yes, in the body of God.
I have heard about and read about the life of Jesus, but I was never able to touch or see him. I was able to touch Adam. I saw him and I touched his life. I physically touched him when I gave him a bath, shaved him, and brushed his teeth. I touched him when I carefully dressed him, walked him to the breakfast table, and helped him to bring the spoon to his mouth. Others touched him when they gave him a massage, did exercises with him, and sat with him in the swimming pool and Jacuzzi. His parents touched him. Murray, Cathy, and Bruno touched him. That’s what we did: touched Adam! And what is said of Jesus must be said of Adam: “Everyone who touched him was healed” (Mark 6:56). Each of us who has touched Adam has been made whole somewhere; it has been our common experience. Ω
Reflect: When has loving someone brought you healing? Remember the experience in detail. Tell God about it, and rest in God’s love. Wonder whom you are called to touch and serve now.
#Lent2020 © Sanctuary, 2020, quoting Henri J. M. Nouwen. Adam. God’s Beloved Blackburn, Vic: HarperCollinsReligious, 1997. Buy it from your favourite bookseller.
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