Thursday, September 15, 2011

Two Mourning Stories: Lars and the Real Girl & Henri Nouwen

Lars and the Real Girl

Sewing Circle Lady 3 : Well that's how life is, Lars.
Mrs. Gruner: Everything at once.
Sewing Circle Lady 2 : We brought casseroles.
Lars Lindstrom: Thank you.
Lars Lindstrom: [Lars looks around the sewing circle. The three ladies are knitting and doing needlepoint] Um, is there something I should be doing right now?
Mrs. Gruner: No, dear. You eat.
Sewing Circle Lady 2 : We came over to sit.
Sewing Circle Lady 3 : That's what people do when tragedy strikes.
Sewing Circle Lady 2 : They come over, and sit.

Henri Nouwen's Latin American Journal:

"There is one more thing I want you to do," said Ann, when the people had left the church. "There is a lady here who lost her only son of sixteen years last month. His name was Walter. She wants you to go to the cemetery with her, pray with her, and bless the grave." I found the woman sitting on a bench in the village square. As I touched her, she started to cry bitterly. It was a sad story. Last month, Walter went to Cochabamba with a truck loaded with produce and people. As usual, the younger boys were standing on the running board of the truck holding onto the door. At one point, Walter lost his balance and fell from the truck without the driver noticing. He fell beneath the wheels and was crushed by the back tires of the truck. They took him in the truck in the hope of reaching the hospital in Cochabamba in time, but he died on the way. 

Ann and I drove with Walter's mother in the jeep to the small cemetery behind the hospital. There we found the little niche where Walter's body was laid. We prayed and I sprinkled the place with holy water and we cried. "He was my only son, and he was such a good boy," his mother said with tears in her eyes. Ann told me how helpful Walter had been in the parish and how everyone was shocked by his death.

I couldn't keep my eyes from the woman's face, a gentle and deep face that had known much suffering. She had given birth to eight children: seven girls and Walter. When I stood in front of the grave I had a feeling of powerlessness and strong desire to call Walter back to life. "Why can't I give Walter back to his mother?" I asked myself. But then I realized that my ministry lay  more in powerlessness than in power; I could give her only my tears."

--From Gracias! by Henri J. Nowen
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