from Henri Nouwen
Fruits That Grow in Vulnerability
There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.
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The other day in the pet store I had my arms full of special goodies for my Koi that are now residing in a small (10L) aquarium for the winter. The alternative to this kind of crowded existence was death by freezing so I figure they have it pretty good. However, the aquarium was getting sort of polluted and I decided that I’d also better invest in some kind of creature to destroy the algae. I was sort of thinking snails but it seems that there are fish that do this job. Not cheap fish either. So I was shelling our $15 for one little black sucker and also grabbed some more filters and a piece of driftwood from some exotic country. The walking encyclopaedia of fish knowledge salesperson assured me that if there was insufficient algae, the algae eater would also derive some nutrition from the wood. Now my aquarium is home to 6 Koi and one black algae eater, three rocks and one hunk of driftwood. The water is now clear enough to see all these fish through the glass thanks to one little black fish. Amazing.
While I was at the till making my purchases, a girl of about 8 years was fiddling with the display of poppies on sale for Remembrance Day. She must have been in the store with an adult who had disappeared or who may have dropped her off for a fun time there while they shopped nearby for more adult toys. (It is right next door to Future Shop) She was just hanging around the till and looked a bit bored. She looked up at me (I was wearing a poppy) and asked, “What are these for?” I was at first a bit stunned. Didn’t she go to school? Don’t they teach kids anything in school anymore? Maybe she is one of those kids who doesn’t listen? How could she not know what the poppies were for? So I explained to her that they were to help us remember the people who had fought and died in the great wars so that we could live in a safe country in freedom. She heard the “war” word and immediately asked if they were evil? I assured her that no, they actually believed that they were fighting against evil in those wars.
But, Oh dear. I am not sure she got it at all. She was muttering “evil” under her breath as she wandered off.
And perhaps she is partly correct. All war is evil, even for the good causes. Peace between all is how God intended humankind to live. But I guess we have managed to mess that plan up fairly well. So we have wars. People fight for the rightness of some cause or government. And much pain is experienced by both sides in the process. Sometimes, I suppose, it is necessary to fight for what is right, to keep evil at bay. Someday we may learn to settle things without resorting to war but meanwhile…
Until then we must not forget the gift of freedom others long ago fought for, for the many soldiers who have died to maintain peace in far off places, and all the innocents that died in the crossfire. We must remember and pray to God for better ways for nations to work things out, for God’s love for others to control our leaders decisions and for an end to cruelty and hatred for people different from ourselves.
I sit beside two
The value of words
Can’t be overestimated
Among the young,
And my listening
Does it count as
Or is it only my
Wishing for company
And finding it
In the overhearing?
and I ponder; how does one pass on values? I must pass on a practice. That is easy enough. We begin booking patients with the new guy and I cut back my hours so that if they need treatment, they make the next appointment with him.
But values and the uniqueness of the practice that is linked to how we care for our patients – that must be passed on too. And can it be? Is it learned by watching? Or is this something that is just there inside the individual?
Fortunately, I think I have some good material to work with. That is one of the reasons we took on this particular young guy.
I suspect there is no clear cut answer. But it is something I must work at answering.
So, I sit here and I ponder and pray that somehow it can be done.
I think I have been silent here too long.
My excuse is that I don’t have the energy to say anything significant.
Which probably means that I need to take some time to just distance myself from the books I am studying and begin to participate in life again. I need to watch a good movie or something.
Maybe it is just time for a good long vacation.