Father Henri Nouwen learned three important spiritual truths through his relationship with Adam Arnett, a fellow resident of L’Arche Daybreak in Richmond Hill, Ontario. We can take these truths to heart now, during our hard time, to nurture our spiritual lives:
Being is more important than doing.
We may have nothing but being right now. Work, school, church, and our social lives take up so much of our “doing” in our normal lives. If you’re out of work or out of school or struggling to work from home, you may feel that your “doing” is not worth much right now.
Your sacredness does not rely on your doing. Your holiness comes from your being. You have been holy for your whole life, from when you were a helpless infant, and you will still be holy when you are elderly and infirm. Your being, not your doing, is sacred.
The heart is more important than the mind.
How we love each other is more important than what we know. We may not know all we wish we knew. We are hungry for information, and we can’t always find it. We have to trust political leaders who may not know more than we do. But we have to set aside all we do not know. We make the best judgments we can with what we understand. And we remember that the heart is more important than the mind.
How we love each other matters more than what we know. Show your love to one another. Hold tight those you live with. Call those who are distant. Wave at the strangers you pass on your walk. Your heart is strong in these difficult times.
Doing things together is more important than doing things alone.
This third truth is the hardest one. Our hearts ache because there is so little we can do together right now. But there are ways we can be together.
Call your neighbors and ask how they are doing. Be alert to the instructions of your city or town about how you can help. Offer to get groceries or medicine for an elderly or sick neighbor. Let meanness and bitterness go out from your soul, and let love for your fellow human beings in. Even in our separateness we are together. We are slowing the spread of this virus together, each in our separate spaces. Even in this time of distance, doing things together is more important than doing things alone.
I know that you are going to persevere in your kindness and holiness through this crisis. You have been practicing your spiritual life, and your practice will deepen. Connect yourself to your deepest values. Remember your love for one another. Remember your being. Remember your heart. Remember that we are together.
Adapted with permission from a sermon preached online March 22.