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Nouwen: Come Stay with Me

I have many memories of encounters with people who made my heart burn but whom I did not invite into my home. Sometimes it happens on a long plane trip, sometimes in a train, sometimes at a party....

Interesting, stimulating, and inspiring as all these strangers may be, when I do not invite them into my home, nothing truly happens. I might have a few new ideas, but my life remains basically the same. Without an invitation, which is the expression of the desire for  lasting relationship, the good news that we have heard cannot bear lasting fruit. It reamins 'news' among the many types of news that bombard us every day.

It is one of the characteristics of contemporary society that encounters, good as they may be, don't become deep relationships. Thus our life is filled with good advice, helpful ideas, wonderful perspectivies, but they are simply added to the many other ideas and perspectives and so leave us 'uncommitted. ' In a society with such an informational overload, even the most significant encounters can be reduced to 'something interesting' among many other interesting things.

Only with an invitation to 'come and stay with me' can an interesting encounter develop into a transforming relationship.

- Henri J.M. Nouwen, With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life (Orbis, 1994), pp. 55-57.