Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Breathing Emotionally

This column by Fr. Ron Rolheiser ran in our Catholic Herald. Though the column is ostensibly about Henri Nouwen, Fr. Rolheiser doesn't quote Nouwen. Rolheiser's summary treatment of Nouwen's diaries makes Nouwen sound less like he's breathing emotionally than like he's breathing in Sylvia Plath's oven.
Today the small rejections of my life are too much for me - a sarcastic smile, a flippant remark, a brisk denial, a bitter silence, a failure to be noticed, a coldness from a colleague, an indifference from someone I love, a nagging tiredness, the lack of a soul mate, a loneliness that I can't explain. I feel empty, alone, afraid, restless, unsure of myself, and I look around for invitations, letters, phone calls, gifts, for someone to catch my eye in sympathy, for some warm gesture that can heal my emptiness. And right now I don't particularly want God, faith, church, or even a big and gracious heart. I want simply to be held, embraced, loved by someone special, made to feel unique, kissed by a soul mate. I'm empty, a half-person. I need someone to make me whole.

Nouwen does, in Behold the Beauty of the Lord: Praying with Icons (1987), call himself "a strongly psychologized contemporary person" (p. 32) but that doesn't become the subject of the book. Diogenes at Off the Record thinks otherwise about Rolheiser's writing.

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