Henri advises us that compassion can grow in a poor heart, “because in a poor heart the pains of growing old can be recognized and shared.  Compassion is the second most important characteristic of caring, since it allows us to overcome the fear of old strangers and invite them as guests into the center of … Read more


Using Heni Nouwen’s book on “Aging” as our guide, we last discussed the futility of going out and finding the elderly to help them.  Henri believes, and I agree, we have to draw them to ourselves by connecting with the aging stranger within ourselves.  Beyond that he explains that, “the old stranger must first become part of … Read more


Henri Nouwen believes that the question is not:” how to go out and help the elderly, but how to create the space where they can be heard and listened to from within with careful attention”.  He goes on to say that we often want to: “preach, teach or cure” and that prevents us from: “perceiving and receiving … Read more

Ageism–How To Repair

Henri Nouwen believes that the only way to combat ageism and care for the elderly, a person must first: “enter into close contact wth your own aging self, to sense your own time, and to experience the movements of your own life cycle.  From this aging self,  healing can come forth and others can be invited … Read more


Henri Nouwen in his book,  “Aging, The Fulfillment of Life”, presents the premise that: “There can hardly be a better image of caring than that of the artist who brings new life to people by (his) honest and and fearless self-portrait.”  He references an example given by Horst Gerson in his book, “Rembrandt Paintings”,  in that the … Read more


The conclusion drawn by Henri Nouwen in his writings on aging can be summed up by the word  “choice”.  According to Henri: “No one can decide for anyone else how his or her aging shall or should be.  It belongs to the greatness of men and women that the meaning of their existence escapes the … Read more

Ageism-Nirvana-Growing Into the Light

We have explored humor as a way of connecting generations and “creating communication” as Henri Nouwen has defined it and now I am led to explore this common experience of the symbolism of “light”.  Henri states that, “light might dissolve much deeper separations and bring all humanity into a liberating unity.”  He highlights the experience of Father Han Fortmann … Read more

Ageism-Farewell To Friends and Loved Ones

Heni speaks of the vision, which grows in aging, leading us beyond the limitations of our human self  “It is a vision that makes us not only detach ourselves from preoccupation with the past but also from the importance of the present.  It is a vision that invites us to a total, fearless surrender in which … Read more


Since the way to the light is through hope, humor is part of the process.  According to Henri, “humor is knowledge with a soft smile…knowledge with a soft smile is a great gift.”  If we laugh at ourselves in our life situations, we begin to realize that all is temporary.  We begin to acknowledge that , this too … Read more

Ageism Defeated By Hope

According to Henri: “One way of describing the way to the light is to call it a slow conversion from wishes to hope.  You wish ‘that’, you hope ‘in’.”  He explains that wishes are for concrete objects while hope is open ended and we believe we can fulfill our promises.  “Therefore, the conversion from wishes to … Read more