Nouwen says that there are three ways to a truly compassionate fatherhood: grief, forgiveness, and generosity. Grief asks me to allow the sins of the world - my own included - to pierce my heart and make me shed tears, many tears, for them. There is no compassion without many tears. If they can't be tears that stream from my eyes, they have to be at least tears that well up from my heart. This grieving is prayer. There are so few mourners left in this world. But grief is the discipline of the heart that sees the sin of the world, and knows itself to be the sorrowful price of freedom without which love cannot bloom.
I struggle with my grief. I struggle with the world. I struggle with the evil in the world. For many years I avoided reading the newspaper. I tried not to watch the news. People criticized me for it. They said I needed to be updated on current affairs. I had no general knowledge. How would I know what was going on in the world if I did not read the news?
Henri Nouwen talks about Becoming the Father in this book.
All of us who have read the story of the prodigal son identify with one of the two sons depending on who we are. I, for most of my life identified with the elder son. I'm a pleaser. I like to keep people around me happy. I like to follow rules and don't want other people to go through any trouble on my account. I do what is needed to be done even if I don't really enjoy it. I never really rebelled as a child or a teenager. Always did what I knew would please my parents.
Until somewhere in my mid-twenties I turned the tables and disappointed my poor widowed mother. It's easier to deal with a child who you knew growing up would bring you heart ache. It's so much harder to deal with a child who you counted on to never break your heart. I did. But, both of us learned to forgive each other and understand each other. That we loved each …
I don't know why I had not read this great book before even though it sat on our bookshelf at home for 5 years. B had read it and am pretty sure he suggested I read it too. But I must have thought... meh... what else could somebody say about the parable of the prodigal son that I had not heard before? Surely I had heard the story over and over again since I was a child. I've heard sermons on it. Heck, I even worked on my own sermon on the story! Besides, I had at some point heard that the story of the Prodigal Son is not really about the son but about the father - his love, forgiveness and acceptance of his wayward son. What more was there to talk about?
If that's what you think about the story then you should read the book. :)
First of all I was excited that he had this life long relationship with Rembrandt's painting. My years of being part of the Methodist Church did not quite open the w…