Henri Nouwen’s recounting of his relationship with a severely debilitated man named Adam and the profound truths he learned from him is both inspirational and moving. Adam could do nothing for himself. His peace was rooted in his being and his being was his gift. Being supplanted doing. His great joy was that others be with him. In Adam can be seen the fallacy and futility of a life built around the idea that my value depends upon what I do.
Adam is a great teacher, just as You are, and there is some common ground that can be arrived at with minimum stretching. You taught us to divest ourselves of the goods and cares of the world and to lovingly abandon ourselves to the Father. Without much choice in the matter Adam personifies that. The common ground is our being, and that was the most precious gift Adam had.
For most of my life I’ve maintained a very independent spirit. I’ve believed that if you wanted something done right you did it yourself. I believed not so much in comrades and acquaintances but in a very small number of really good friends, and, very often, I believed that my ways were the best. But as I grow older and the prospects for loneliness increase I see a great lesson in Adam’s joy that others share their being with him. I seek solitude in many things I do – not just prayer and spiritual routines – but even in some of my leisure time pursuits. Yet there is something joyful (in a melancholy, nostalgic way) about coming from such solitude and being with another person. It makes the solitude and independence complete. It’s like dotting the “i” or crossing the “t.”
To be stuck in the loneliness that solitude without connection connotes would be painful. The example of Adam shows us why, in its most primal sense, being seeks being. Essentially what we are for others and what we seek from others is being. Who among us has not experienced the desire to do something for another when all that is wanted is that we be with them? This is also descriptive of our relationship with You and You with us.