Soul Carer’s Letter
To be there before you, Lord, that’s all.To shut the eyes of my body,To shut the eyes of my soul,And be still and silent,To expose myself to you who are there,exposed to me.To be there before you, the EternalPresence.I am willing to feel nothing, Lord,
to see nothing,
to hear nothing.Empty of all ideas,
of all images,
In the darkness.Here I am, simply,To meet with you without obstacles,In the silence of faith,Before you, Lord.But, Lord, I am not aloneI can no longer be alone.I am a crowd, Lord,For men live within me.I have met them.They have come in,They have settled down,They have worried me,They have tormented me,They have devoured me.And I have allowed it, Lord, that they might be nourished and refreshed.I bring them to you, too, as I come beforeyou.I expose the, to you in exposing myself toyou.Here I am,Here they are,Before you, Lord.
Michel Quoist, born in Le Havre on 18 June1921 and died in Le Havre on December 18,1997, was a priest and a French writer. His father had died early. Therefore Michel began to work at the age of 14. He sought meaning of life. In 1947 he became a priest. Hiswork as a chaplain and a writer was focused on young people. As a post-war chaplain of Catholic Action inconjunction with major religious initiatives he published in 1954 Prayers which brought him ahuge success: 2,500,000 copies have been sold throughout the world. His books are still being published and millionsof copies have been translated into 27 languagesup to now. His literary work is particularly well known in Latin America.Some of other titles of Quoist books: (1954) Prayers Of Life,(1965)The Christian Response,(1971)Christ Is Alive, (1972) I've Met JesusChrist, (1973) Meet Christ And Live.
In a Waterholes edition last year Iwrote of a sense of a call of God to begina soul friendship ministry with thoseliving with disabilities. This had grownout of my admiration for and inspirationfound through the life and work of thepriest and spiritual author, HenriNouwen along with my own experienceof a disabling condition which changedmy life in my 40’s.Even though I was to discover myneuromuscular disease was genetic, it hadlain almost dormant for the ﬁrst half of my life enabling me to achieve myambition to be a High School PhysicalEducation teacher and play sport at afairly high level. Almost overnight I wentfrom an active, outgoing, always on the“go,” type of person tocompletelybedridden withnothing working as itpreviously had.The journeywith the grief of this, facing the loss of identity andindependenceto name justtwo was myoverriding spiritual discipline and withouthaving already committed myself to the“inner” journey and the sheer grace of God I would not be the person I amtoday.It has always been my experiencethat God wastes nothing in our lives if weare prepared to say “Yes” to God. It takesa long time and much effort to reach theplace of saying “how can this experiencebe an opportunity for new ways of Godin my life?”There have been more opportunitiesthan there is space to write but one of thegreatest and most satisfying has been agrowth in understanding of others withall types of disabilities; chronic and life-threatening illnesses; those born withthem and those where it has been thrustupon them. I have never lacked empathybut there is a great difference in merelybeing empathetic & walking in someoneelse’s shoes. We can never say “I knowhow you feel” because we can neverknow fully another’s experience but thereis an unspoken “knowing” where there isa shared experience whatever it might be. We have a deeper understanding of thelimitations and the attitudes of others.Over the past years I becameincreasingly aware and drawn to those onthe “margins” of the church because of their disability be it physical or mental. Iknew ﬁrst hand what it felt like to feel”swamped” in a wheelchair, unable tomove out of the way of my space being invaded; how dis-empowering it is to havepeople speak to me from behind or to theside or stand in front of me instead of coming to eye level. I became moreaware of when Idid it to others& have tried toteach how to bewith someonein thissituation. At thebeginning of this year, itseemed the“right” time tobegin a “soul-friendship”group for those with disabilities. Itseemed we needed a safe place to growour faith and express our deepest selveswith a degree of understanding whichcomes from a shared commonexperience. I really felt a completeamateur, never having ventured with sucha group before. Most of the participants Ialready knew from the cathedralcongregation so there was already arelationship established. Most of thegroup have had & go on having experience of other groups catering fortheir needs but not really with regard totheir spiritual needs. I also havewonderful support leaders to help sodon’t feel alone in it all!!The group has formed a life of itsown growing in numbers and depth.Some of the comments from thoseattending, testify to its power. “I feel safehere” “I feel free to be me and say what I
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