Dear Henri, The Wall Came Down – Week 17, Day 1

Brennan manning quote 01

Dear Henri,

My days off are rounding third and on the way to home. Thankfully it's a long weekend coming up so I have an extra day to ease myself back into work.

This Brennan Manning quotation? This adorned the cover page for Coming Home's basic design for community. Mission statement, vision statement, values, logic model, budget, schedule, it was all there. I know, I know… "Get over it, Erin!"

Get over it.

Get over what?

I look out at the world as see slaughter in Gaza, Iraq, Syria and Nigeria; I see starvation in South Sudan and warring in Ukraine and Russia; I know that my little disappointments pale in comparison to what's happening in the big picture. I know, too, though that it's dangerous to compare one's life to others based on their circumstances (that's the birthing place of poverty porn). On the other hand, when hard-tilled community doesn't emerge from the ground where it's needed, it can be a huge disappointment in the face of need, both local and global.

Today, I packed away all of Coming Home's supplies so painstakingly collected and purchased throughout last winter and spring. And… 

I took down The Wall (affectionaly known as The Wonder Wall).

I had displayed an enormous map of the world, surrounded by pictures and brief bios of people who had changed the world, and are changing the world. Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, pagans, atheists; Catholics, evangelicals, charismatics, mainline folks; people of all sorts of colour; people spanning the orientation of gender; people who have passed on, people who haven't turned 20 yet, people who are anywhere in between.

Each person had a red string stretched from their bio and pinned to their place of origin by one of those cute little map pins with the colourful bulbs on the top. It took me nearly 10 hours to create all of the bios, and another 8 hours to cut them out, glue them together, and put up the entire creation. While there was that pride in accomplishing a project, there was a persistent sense of awe: I could barely find room for 42 people around the world who exemplified the love of Christ in the face of injustice. I could have easily collaged the ENTIRE wall with a thousand people, and completely covered the map.

I wanted people to connect with a bio or two; to find a person who had been where they are right now, and connect on levels I couldn't see; I wanted young people to have hope that their lives matter, and that they need not wait a single moment before changing the world (yes, that's a paraphrase of Anne Frank… one of my folks on the Wonder Wall). I wanted teens to experience the same inspiration that I had in searching for these people, learning their stories, realizing just how much we are all like them.

But I had to take The Wall down.

I'm sure there's a way to super-spiritualize that phrase, but I'm not up for that. Someone else can go ahead and do that.

I found one of your prayers, Henri… disappointment is always a tough medicine to accept.

Dear God,
I am full of wishes, full of desires, full of expectations.

Some of them may be realized, and some may not,

but in the midst of all my satisfactions and disappointments, I hope in you.

O Lord, strengthen my hope, especially when my many wishes are not fulfilled.

Let me never forget that your name is Love. Amen. - Henri Nouwen

Strengthen my hope.

It's hard to hold on to that hope when I think I'm following the road I've been placed on. It's hard when others seem to succeed where I can't seem to get a foothold in. It's hard to submit my life to this Jesus-Person when nothing seems to come of it.

Strengthen my hope.

Let me never forget Your Name is Love.

Good for tonight.

I don't want a million dollars or a giant house. Strengthen my hope that I can return renewed. Ready. Vision clear.

Until next, Henri,


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