The pelican papers

A big bird’s eye view

Wounded healing

"The Wounded Healer," by Cora Hull

"The Wounded Healer," by Cora Hull

I probably won’t have time today for blogging. Tuesday is given over to church work, and today is hymn-picking day. God did provide worthy blog material, however, a passage from Henri Nouwen’s book, “The Wounded Healer.” I came across it during Morning Prayer in a book of devotions published by The Upper Room, a Methodist publishing house.

“The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there. Our lives are filled with examples which tell us that leadership asks for understanding and that understanding requires sharing. So long as we define leadership in terms of preventing or establishing precedents, or in terms of being responsible for some kind of abstract ‘general good,’ we have forgotten that no God can save us except a suffering God, and that no man can lead his people except the man who is crushed by its sins. Personal concern means making Mr. Harrison the only one who counts, the one for whom I am willing to forget my many other obligations, my scheduled appointments and long-prepared meetings, not because they are not important but because they lose their urgency in the face of Mr. Harrison’s agony. Personal concern makes it possible to experience that going after the ‘lost sheep’ is really a service to those who were left alone.

“Many will put their trust in him who went all the way, out of concern for just one of them. The remark ‘He really cares for us’ is often illustrated by stories which show that forgetting the many for the one is a sign of true leadership.

“It is not just curiosity which makes people listen to a preacher when he speaks directly to a man and a woman whose marriage he blesses or to the children of the man whom he buries in the ground. They listen in the deep-seated hope that a personal concern might give the preacher words that carry beyond the ears of those whose joy or suffering he shares. Few listen to a sermon which is intended to be applicable to everyone, but most pay careful attention to words born out of concern for only a few.

“All this suggests that when one has the courage to enter where life is experienced as most unique and most private, one touches the soul of the community. The man who has spent many hours trying to understand, feel and clarify the alienation and confusion of one of his fellow men might well be the best equipped to speak to the needs of the many, because all men are one at the wellspring of pain and joy.

“This is what Carl Rogers point out when he wrote: ‘… I have found that the very feeling which has seemed to me most private, most personal and hence most incomprehensible by others, has turned out to be an expression for which there is a resonance in many other people. It has led me to believe that what is most personal and unique in each one of us is probably the very element which would, if it were shared or expressed, speak most deeply to others. This has helped me to understand artists and poets who have dared to express the unique in themselves.’ It indeed seems that the Christian leader is first of all the artists who can bind together many people by his courage in giving expression to his most personal concern.”

Posted by Prodigal + to The prodigal priest at 5/31/2005 09:03:00 AM


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