• Dr. Ray Aldred "Life of the Beloved" | Episode Transcript

    Karen Pascal: Hello, I’m Karen Pascal. I’m the Executive Director of the Henri Nouwen Society. Welcome to a new episode of Henri Nouwen, Now and Then. Our goal at the Henri Nouwen Society is to extend the rich, spiritual legacy of Henri Nouwen to audiences around the world. Each week, we endeavor to bring you a new interview with someone who’s been deeply influenced by the writings of Henri Nouwen. We invite you to share the daily meditations and these podcasts with your friends and family. Through them, we can continue to reach our spiritually hungry world with Henri’s writings, his encouragement, and of course, his reminder that each of us is a beloved child of God.

    Now, let me take a moment to introduce you to today’s guest, Dr. Ray Aldred. Dr. Ray Aldred is a status Cree Indian. He is the interim Dean of the Vancouver School of Theology. And at this school, Dr. Aldred is the director of the Indigenous Studies Program. Ray also leads The Teaching House That Moves Around, an internationally recognized initiative that addresses the need for truth, reconciliation and healing amongst Indigenous peoples, and fosters understanding for all societies.

    Ray, tell me a little bit about The Teaching House That Moves Around. What exactly is this?

    Ray Aldred: Well, it came out of a discussion with Archbishop Mark McDonald, who is the Archbishop of the Indigenous Anglican Church in Canada, and we were talking about how for theological education, the focus that most seminaries have in North America is on the “competent individual.” So, all the focus and energy go into training individuals, but it doesn’t address what a community could do or what communities have been doing, to meet their spiritual needs. So, we tried to shift the focus to think about how could we build capacity in communities, and not primarily in the individual priests. This was also because there’s a lack of priests, and most Indigenous clergy don’t make a lot of money. A lot of them do it for no money. And so, we were trying to build capacity and use sort of what has already been used in the community successfully in the past.

    And so, on the West Coast here, and then up into Alaska, where Mark was, it was common that when a younger person wanted to learn about life and about understanding to live life in a good way, they would go to an elder’s house. So, we just thought, let’s call this The Teaching House That Moves Around, and it was community-based. So, what we did was go into a community and we asked the community: If we could do something here that would bring together theological education, health and Indigenous identity, what would that be? And people told us, and then we’d say, “Well, who do you think would be the best team to bring in?” So, then we would assemble a team and then we’d go in and do from three to five days of intensive community education. And then, we would follow up and ask them if they were able to put any of those things that we had talked about and learned into practice. And that was The Teaching House That Moves Around.

    Karen Pascal: Can I ask you, it sounds to me very holistic, like it wasn’t just one thing, but it was a holistic vision that you had?

    Ray Aldred: It was and is very effective, because this whole initiative was, we just built on what communities had already been using in different ways traditionally. And we just came alongside what communities were already trying to do and were doing. And we just sort of gave more energy to what they were doing. And the key was to work closely with the existing church that was in the community, because in that way, it ensured that once we were gone, this kind of training would continue.

    Karen Pascal: Was it very interdenominational? When you say you worked with the existing church, was it Catholic in some cases, Anglican in others and Pentecostal in others? What were you finding that you incorporated?

    Ray Aldred: Yeah, we had all kinds of folks who came for the training. Most Indigenous communities are Anglican, like you said, or they’re Salvation Army or they’re – and so, what was important to us was just to identify a church that was willing to work with us. And so, that’s what we did. And basically, the difference is, we didn’t focus on the differences. We focused on what we have in common, which is the gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ. And we always did in the morning, we did gospel-based discipleship. So, we would read the gospel of the day. And then we would, as a community, reflect on what Jesus was saying to us and what this was calling us to do. And then during the day, that seemed to have implications for the training we were doing.

    The main teachings that we did were around ministry in the midst of trauma, because there’s a lot of trauma that people were facing. And so, we tried to focus and this is where with the book we’re going to talk about, Henri Nouwen’s book. We focused on how in the Eucharist, we can see a pattern for life in ministry, that we were taken and blessed, broken and given. And that was our lives. And this recognition helped us to understand that Jesus not only loved us, but he liked us, which was key. And so, we found that very effective. And then the other series of teachings that we did was around Indigenous Christology, that how could Jesus hold together our traditional understanding of creation and how we came to be where we are and the Christian account creation story? How do we hold these two things together? And we would teach about how Christ holds these things together, which many of them were already doing. And even elders in the past had done that. And we just came and shone a light using some of the Indigenous students that I had here. They would come and teach with me. We would just shine a light on examples in the past of where our elders did this very thing. And we were just walking in their footsteps, thinking in ways that they had thought, which is the basis of spirituality. One of the things about spirituality and ceremony is that when we do these ceremonies, we’re thinking and we’re saying the things that our ancestors said and our elders thought, and we are probably even feeling some of the things that they felt, and that helps us to live.

    Karen Pascal: Now in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission here in Canada, which was about Canadian residential schools, Canadians have often viewed Christianity as the enemy of Indigenous people. Is there another side to this, Ray?

    Ray Aldred: We encountered… Most Indigenous people didn’t want to give up the Christian faith. What they wanted to do, though, was talk about the trauma they had experienced in these different residential schools and in these different situations. And I remember talking to one individual who said it wasn’t what the residential school was, was the failure. Many Indigenous people saw the failure of the residential schools was the churches did not take care of our children. And they said they would. And that was the failure on the church’s part. A lot of these kids were Christians. They were baptized into the church. But for some reason, some parts of the church thought they weren’t Christian enough. And so, they attempted to re-socialize them.

    And so, what we do really, when you talk about ministry in the midst of trauma, we help people to begin to feel and talk about what happened in their lives. And then, to look at the distortion that’s come because of what happened. You know, we affirm folks for coping mechanisms, because most people have done something right to make it this far in life. But coping strategies were never meant to be the way that we live all the time. You know, like a coping strategy for us when we’re experiencing trauma is to go numb, and this helps us to make it through whatever we’re enduring. But if that numbness became our pattern of life, that was never what the Creator intended. So, what we help individuals to see is that there is something beyond being numb, that it is possible to feel and to embrace the love of the Creator and see that life is still flowing out of us, even though we’ve been damaged. And I gleaned that from the things that I read Henri Nouwen writing, in books like Life of the Beloved and In the Name of Jesus. And we were really also, for me, we were following the pattern that Henri writes in Creative Ministry, that we were trying to make a space for people to be who the Creator made them to be.

    And that’s what we were doing in The Teaching House. We were making a sacred space, and that’s how we began. We began with the gospel in the center and we reminded ourselves that we were related to all things. And then this is a sacred space in which we could talk about hard things that happen and find healing.

    Karen Pascal: I am delighted to be talking to you about it, because it spreads beyond the Indigenous community. There are so many that would be listening today that will hear, in what you’re sharing, words that they need for what’s happening in their life. And I’m always constantly amazed at how Henri is able to speak to those who are deeply, who understand a deep sense of brokenness within. At the heart of the Indigenous people’s quest for healing is a shift in identity from shame to dignity of heritage. And I’m delighted to know, I read that from you. You said that, but I’m delighted to know that Henri has something to offer to that. I know that you’ve done some very specific teaching on this. Maybe you’d like to share a little bit more, in a sense, about this process of healing.

    Ray Aldred: Yeah. Well, we actually developed, it was a program that we had taken, on leading a small group for people who had suffered abuse. Now we’d taken this training, but the problem with it was, oh, there were lots of good things about it. But one of the things that it was, I won’t call it lacking, but what it needed was an Indigenous-friendly, overarching sort of outline or shell to put around it, to talk about it. And I thought that the whole Eucharist, as the way that Henri Nouwen presented in Life of the Beloved, that that would be how we would talk about these things. And so, when we began the training, so we started doing these four-day training events, we called them iinanamoan, which is an Oji-Cree word, which means “the feelings that I have in my heart.”

    And we said, “Let’s come away and talk about the feelings we have in our heart.” And so, the different points, I would talk about that, that we are taken and blessed. That was usually near the beginning. And I said, if we’re taken and blessed, that if Henri Nouwen said, the first step in the Christian life is to understand that you are the beloved, and I said, “To be honest, lots of us have never come to that place that we could say, we know that Jesus loves us and he likes us. And why is that?”

    I remember one teaching. I was doing that teaching and someone came up to me and they said, “Show me in the Bible where it says that Jesus likes us.”

    And I said, “In John, Jesus said, ‘I’ve not called you servants. I’ve called you friends.’”

    But then we asked the question: So, if the first step in the Christian life is to understand that you are the beloved, why are so many of us living without that understanding, even though we’ve been in the church our whole lives? And then we put our finger on shame and how the insidious side of abuse is that the person who’s abused, if it’s a child, ends up feeling shame. They’ve taken in, they feel this illegitimate shame. And if you think about sin as something that blocks a person from receiving love, then they’re encapsulated in their abuser’s sin. And it’s not the fault of the child, but they’re impacted by it anyways, and they need help. And so, then we talk about how we need someone to hear us and listen to us and to remind us again and again, that we are taken, blessed and loved.

    And so then, the way that we talk about how we’ve been broken, we’ve been broken, but we shifted to understand, we want to come to the place that Joseph did when he said to his brothers, “What you meant for bad, God still used for good.” Not that the abuse was good, or it should never have happened. But somehow, despite this, somehow the Creator can do something and life will come out of us. So, we talked about broken. So, we talked about illegitimate shame, different coping strategies that people use, distortions about how we see ourselves, how we see others, how we see the Creator. And then we talked about what would it be like if you began to love with your whole heart. What would that be like? And then we say, that’s what repentance is.

    Repentance is not primarily about, you know, at Lent when everybody feels bad and looks at their shoes for 40 days. That’s not primarily repentance. Repentance is a gift that we turn to light. We turn back all those relationships that maybe we’ve been neglecting because we thought they were too painful. And we begin to dream about what would it be like if I loved with my whole heart, and we try to make a safe space where people can do that and then begin to get a vision about how maybe their life could look just a little bit different in little ways. And it starts primarily with them. And then in that way, they’re not dependent primarily upon someone else changing, so that they could be different. In circumstances where they’re in a destructive relationship, perhaps they need to think about shifting out of that.

    But for many of us, you know, this thing happened to us when we were kids, but it still visits us every time something goes… sometimes it can be the smallest thing. I remember one of the examples we talked about is someone leaves a pair of socks in the middle of the living room or something, and right away, we’re upset. We’re going, “Don’t you love me? If you love me, you wouldn’t leave that.” There’s just so… And this is because these things that happen to us come back. But then we begin to embrace. We realize, yes, we have been broken, yet Christ still loves us. And he likes us. And then we’ve been given. And then we begin to have people, that they’re the gift that they give the world is them; they are a gift. And we even talk about when a person comes to the end of their life. Henri wrote, “The greatest gift that you ever give is when your life is done and your memory moves other people to live in a better way.”

    So, that’s kind of how we present the whole. And then the last, borrowing from life science, we celebrate. And, you know, the last thing we do is we do a round dance. And, you know, we have people who dance, who from the residential school they’d learned that they should hate their culture. And that’s how they’d live. Yet, they do this traditional round dance with us, and we just have fun for a few minutes. And I always tell people: “Look, if you’re uncomfortable dancing, don’t worry about it. You just have a seat or stand by the side.” But we’ve never had anybody who didn’t want to dance.

    Karen Pascal: Sounds to me like you’re creating wounded healers. You’re developing wounded healers out of this incredible, deep move of the spirit. That’s lovely. I will always remember: “Repentance is love with your whole heart.” I love that. It’s beautiful.

    Ray Aldred: Yeah. Because that’s kind of what, when I read Henri Nouwen’s books and I watched what he did with his life and how he left pretty significant teaching positions to be basically a chaplain for people who had cognitive and physical limitations to me, and there, he writes that that’s kind of, he found that was life. See, because the challenge for lots of us Indigenous people is that we, I remember at points in my life, I thought I was too bad for God to ever use or to like, or to love. And I got into this unhealthy thinking, and I was five years into ministry before I really embraced the love of God. And it was from reading Henri Nouwen’s books and working through my issues. And this is when I finally embraced the love of Christ. And I’d been ordained for several years already. This was the strange thing, but I think lots of us live like that.

    Karen Pascal: I’m deeply moved. Just what you’ve just shared right now about your own life and about, you know, being so far into ministry before you could understand that you were beloved. I think that issue of self-hatred is one of the most profound things that Henri touches on, with such honesty that we all go, “Oh my goodness, you’ve seen my heart.”

    I want to ask you a specific question that has been, I think, particularly a problem with the native community, and it’s been the issue of suicide. And I’m wondering, I’d love your insights and your wisdom on this.

    Ray Aldred: Well, what happens when we get wounded by life, with abuse, what happens is we develop illegitimate shame, as I talked about before. But I think we begin to hate ourselves. I know I talked about it all before. I mean, I thought that I was too bad for God to love, and lots of young people feel that way. I remember I was doing a teaching in a particular place and a school counselor came up and said, “That’s it? That’s what many young people struggle with? Is this feeling that I’m unlovable?”

    It happened in my life. I remember when I left home, when I was 16. I got in a fight with my mom and I said a bunch of things. And she said some things. And I remember I walked out the door and I remember as I was walking out the door, I remember thinking, “I am so bad. My mother cannot even love me.”

    And this causes people to engage in all kinds of destructive behavior, because they think they’re not… So, it turns into self-contempt, self-hatred, and people engage in these destructive behaviors because they believe that they’re not lovable. Or it turns outward and it turns into other-people-contempt. And it pushes people away. In the ministry, I see people sometimes who have been hurt so much, they decide they’re not going to hurt anymore. But the problem is, if you shut off your feelings, you can’t feel love, either. It’s true, maybe you won’t feel as hurt, but you won’t feel love, either. So, that’s an issue. And so, what a lot of the ministry that we do is just reminding people that God loves them and he likes them.

    And that’s the gospel, that God so loved the land that he gave his only son, which is how, if you back-translate a Cree translation of John 3:16, in Cree it says, “God so loved the land that he gave his only son.” The land is all creation, all the creatures, all human beings, all the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds and the winged, those that crawl and those that swim, everything. God so loved the land. And we just focus on the fact that God loves us and he likes us and he meets us in the midst of our pain. He meets us. There is no place where we can go that the Creator is not there. And we just try to create this space where people can see that even if they feel their pain again, a little bit, we try to do it in a controlled way.

    We’re not trying to dig up wounds or make people, you know, wallow in their pain or anything like that. What we’re trying to do is just to help people see that if they begin to feel and work through these issues, that there is a sustaining love and grace to begin to heal. Henri Nouwen talked about the fact that there’s this pool of pain in the midst of our being. And it’s like a bottomless pit. And if we step into it, there’s no bottom. And he said, “But we are called to dance around the edges. And as we do that and we begin to move through it and we can hear the voice of the Creator, then there’s some healing that comes.” And that’s what we’re trying to do. And that’s the challenge for young people, that they need spaces where they can be reminded that God loves them.

    And it’s been documented, and lots of people talk about how this is multi-generational for residential schools, because you had whole generations taken away from their families. And they grew up in a setting where they didn’t see holistic nurturing and didn’t learn parenting skills. And so, when they had kids and they did their best and are doing their best, yet they struggle with these kinds of things because no one helped them work through their pain. Martin Brokenleg said if we don’t learn healthy ways of working through our trauma, then we don’t have the sources to teach our children and our grandchildren how to work through powerful things that happen in their lives. So, that’s the challenge, and we’re slowly healing through the grace of the Creator.

    Karen Pascal: You know, Ray, I’m deeply moved by what you’re sharing. I know your background: you were born in northern Alberta. You are a status Cree Indian from the Swan River band of Treaty Eight. And it’s just amazing to hear this journey. That you walked out at 16. I take it you walked out of where you were born, there in northern Alberta. I’m curious. I’m wondering how you went from there to eventually becoming a minister. What happened?

    Ray Aldred: When I left home at 16, I mean, I got a job, I moved back home again and then I left. I started living with a girl when I was 19 and I got into drugs and alcohol and almost died when I was 18 in a car accident. And I remember thinking one time, I was working in a saw mill or a plywood factory. And I remember looking at the sun coming up one day, because I was working night shift, and I remember thinking, “God, would you give me a sign?” And then I remember thinking, “Why would God give me a sign?”

    But eventually what happened is I was watching my older brother who had embraced a life of following Christ and I asked him one time. And he explained to me, and I remember he said that God loves you.

    And I said, “I believe it.”

    And then he said, “But your sin is sort of, you’re missing the mark there.”

    And I remember saying, “Yeah, that’s kind of obvious.”

    And he said, “Well, God wants to build his home in you. And if you ask him it, he will put his Spirit in you.”

    This made sense to me. So, I prayed when I was 19 years old. I said, “God, I’ve done a lot of things wrong. And would you forgive me, put your Spirit in me, make me who you created me to be?”

    And my whole life changed from that point on. I think 11 days later I got married to the girl I was living with, and we’re still married today. We’ll be married 42 years. And I think it’s 42 this year, and we have four kids and some grandkids.

    And then, you know, because I’m an addict and an alcoholic, I just didn’t want to have any delusions of grandeur. I thought I should go into ministry right away, but I waited eight years. And then, you know, I did an undergrad, started being the minister at a small Indigenous church in Regina, which is where you met me. And then went on to do an MDiv. And it was through all this ministering in Indigenous churches and listening to the stories of people who had suffered tremendous abuse, more abuse than I had suffered, that I realized, “What’s going on here?” And I remember when I heard I was taking a class on Christian writers, and I read two books by Henri Nouwen. And I thought that’s key. That’s key that most of us have never come to the place where we understand that we are the beloved. We are the beloved.

    And to be honest, I went on this road trip, our missionary journey, me and another guy. We went to a bunch of First Nations churches. I think we drove about 3,000 miles in total, visiting these different churches. And on the way, he kept asking me these questions about what was going on in my heart. And finally, I had a vision and I don’t know if it was because the Creator just put it all into that vision. It was a very painful time. And I realized that I had made this vow that no one would ever hurt me because I didn’t know what to do. I would always know what to do. And that vow had held me even in ministry. And I remember I was feeling all this pain.

    You see, and this is what happens in these little groups that we did in iinanamoan. I was feeling all of this pain. I felt all the pain of the trauma of disappointment and of being treated so poorly. And I’m feeling all this. And my friend says to me, he says, “Ray, there’s something worse than your pain.”

    And I said, “Really? What is it?”

    And he said, “It’s your sin.”

    And I remember thinking, “You jerk, who would say that to someone who’s feeling so painful?”

    And then I said, “Okay, tell me what is my sin.”

    He says, “You believe that you’re unlovable.”

    And I remember at that point, I thought, that’s it. I have lived my Christian life thinking that I am too bad for God, that God’s love is too small for me. And it held me. And so, I said, “God, give me the gift of repentance.” And I began to weep and I said, “I receive your love.”

    And I tell you, like I said, I was already in ministry for five years and everything changed. The way that I prayed changed. I remember before when I used to pray, I realized that now, that I would just pray that circumstances would change so that people wouldn’t call me all the time, distraught. And it shifted from praying that so-and-so would get healing, so they wouldn’t bother me, to – I never said the “they wouldn’t bother me” part, but really that’s kind of what my motivation was.

    And I found that it shifted. I just would pray, “God, give me more love. Help me to love people so that they know that you love them. Help me to do that. Just give me more love.” That gave me a sense of freedom that I had not known or could remember my whole life – freedom just to love.

    Karen Pascal: Honestly, Ray, this has been so rich. I’m just kind of, to the depths of my being, hearing you with profound and penetrating truth, really. And it’s interesting, because I didn’t say this at the beginning, but our audience is really a global audience, and probably most of the people listening to this are in the United States. And it’s interesting, because in a sense, you bring a perspective, a very profoundly honest, individual perspective, but also an understanding, a deep understanding of indigenous people. And my sense is there’s no borders on that. My sense is that this is going to have value to so many people. I was delighted when I got this email from you. Basically, you were inquiring about Life of the Beloved and whether, you know, we had some of those books, because you could use them right now for groups that you were going out to, and that kind of reconnected us.

    And I love the fact that you can make use of what Henri has to offer. But Henri, like you, found that center line at really that place of knowing, “Okay, I am God’s beloved. I am that. He loves me. He likes me.”

    That’s so cool. Can I ask you? I’m going to ask you something totally different. I’m curious. If right now we’re living through a time where we really have become aware and sensitive to a tremendous amount of injustice that we want to see righted, and there’s a lot going on with Black Lives Matter, but there’s also very much an issue of how do we make sure there comes a true fairness and value of the Indigenous peoples of North America. But particularly I say, as a Canadian and of Canadians, how do you speak to that?

    Ray Aldred: I think I’m going to riff off of Henri Nouwen again. I think it’s in the book In the Name of Jesus, and he says the solution, the solution, theology is not to give people solutions to pain. Well, he doesn’t say it in that many words, but he says it’s not about giving people solutions. This is about understanding how what we are experiencing fits in on the way to the Resurrection. And another writer would say that, now I was reading another writer, William Stringfellow, who lived through the Vietnam War in the Seventies. He practiced law in Harlem; I think he was a Harvard-trained lawyer. And he was thinking about the tyranny of Nazism. And he was thinking about those who lived in resistance to the Nazi tyranny. And he said, “Resistance became the only human way to live.”

    And I just think that we resist the urge to use the tools of violence and abuse to try to sort of achieve our ends. And one of the problems that we’re facing with the residential schools and with other programs in different countries that they use, is that they’re actually idolatry, they’re idols. They make death their idol, and they’re trying to use death and destruction as a means for social engineering. And that’s just wrong. And resistance is really to live as true human beings. So, the examples that I can think of, as I remember reading another book, that Henri Nouwen always stopped and talked to people, and what I remember this one person writing about him, what struck them was the fact that he would talk to people on the street, street people. And he was interested in their story. He would stand and listen to the person because they were important. They were important.

    And I just think that we need to live as true human beings, to love one another and not let abuse that happened… we need to learn to love in different ways. Like sometimes people think that love is just letting stuff go. I mean, I think love is you need to help people work through their issues. When we think about abuse, the loving thing to do is to report abuse to the proper authorities and help the individual work through the process. Not so primarily they would be punished, the abuser, but so that they could find healing along with the people who have suffered at their hands. Because one thing we learned through the historical trauma of the residential schools, is that it impacted everybody. It impacted everybody. Nobody is free from the impacts of this. So, we all need healing. That’s what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was all about.

    The Indigenous people themselves, the residential school survivors, are the ones who called for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, so that we could be reconciled. If you think about that, that’s phenomenal, that those who were wounded the worst are the ones that were calling for reconciliation by coming together. And they paid for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission out of their settlement from the government for the abuse they suffered. So, Indigenous people called for reconciliation and continue to call for reconciliation, and they paid for it. And I just think, on one level I think that they have understood what it says, that God so loved the land that he gave himself. And I think that was what Henri Nouwen was trying to say. Christian ministry is to give yourself away in love.

    So, I think that people who go out to protest, I think they’re doing a good thing. As long as they don’t get caught up in trying to use the same methods of those who have done the oppression, which is easy to get into. You know what I mean? Like, you think you’ve got to use violence to end violence. Once you start doing that, I don’t know. It doesn’t work out well. So, I think we want to continue to love, shine a light, sometime we need to engage in… So, one of the things that Indigenous people have done over the years is, they’ve refused to just go along to get along. They’ve refused it because they speak the truth. But I would say mostly, they speak the truth in love. And that was what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was all about: speaking the truth, but seeking reconciliation. I heard about a group – it was from a friend of mine when she was doing her PhD. She studied the gospel when it came to the people up the West Coast of British Columbia. And the elders there, when they heard the gospel, they thought, “This is amazing, because this is a way to make peace with your enemy without war and without violence.” And I just thought that’s pretty cool.

    Karen Pascal: It’s interesting. Because with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, there came a call for actions and the responsibility is not just for those who paid for it. That’s an insight to me, I’ve got to tell you, but for all of us to say, “Okay, how do we help make sure those actions are taken, that this doesn’t sit on the shelf, but this actually moves forward?”

    Love going both ways. Love going from those responsible and love coming from those impacted by it. Yeah, for sure.

    Ray Aldred: So again, someone you probably know, I don’t know if he’s still around, Pierre Allard.

    Karen Pascal: Yes. I know Pierre.

    Ray Aldred: Well, I remember listening to him, and I kind of bring some of his understanding into this whole process. And he said, “Look, restorative justice. You have to tell the truth and you have to really listen. And then you have to come up with a shared plan.”

    And when we had these small groups, we were creating spaces where people could tell the truth, and they would have the experience of having someone really listen to them, really listen and hear their whole story. And that’s intimacy, that having a place where someone could see exactly what I’m like and still love me. And I think that’s what Henri provided for so many people: someplace where you could be exactly who you were and you would still feel loved, and then come up with a shared plan. And that’s what repentance is. It’s this shared plan.

    What would it be like if we took responsibility and stopped trying to figure out who’s to blame? In some cases, that’s important. But stop worrying about whether I’m innocent or not, but just take responsibility and begin to work to heal what’s damaged in our society. I mean, that’s what we need to do. And that’s the place we’re at in Canada. We need to come up with a shared plan, to take responsibility. So, in one sense, this pandemic gives us an opportunity. In one sense, we did that. We’re doing it in fits and spurts. Sometimes we get frustrated, but we come together, we’re taking responsibility. This is all our responsibility. And we’re trying to do something for the good of everyone. I think we just need to think about that when it comes to healing historic trauma. We need to take responsibility for what happened and begin to work to heal. Another guy, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, said, “Once people stop worrying about whether you’re innocent or not, and just take responsibility, then you can begin to heal the damage done by the sins of society.”

    Karen Pascal: Ray, these words are words that are going way beyond our borders. And certainly, right now, as we look at all the issues being raised, of wanting to right wrongs that are generational, I just love what you’ve just shared: Take responsibility and then begin the work to heal. I think that’s so important. You’ve just given it such credibility out of your own life and out of the work that you’re doing. Thank you so much. And I love the way you have plumbed the work of Henri Nouwen and found rich stuff and brought it to the surface. And I’m grateful for that. I’m so grateful. Thank you.

    Ray Aldred: Hey, well, I never got a chance to meet him in person, but his writing saved me in my ministry.

    Karen Pascal: Ah. Well, I know he would’ve enjoyed you, Ray. Absolutely know that. And it’s one of those things that, you know, it means so much to me. When I started in my position five years ago, I was really asking, is there still a need for Henri’s writing, and wanting to see where is it rippling out. So, I’m always delighted to discover that the wealth that’s there is feeding others. Somebody wrote us the other day and said, “I found water and now I want to give it to others.”

    And that was just, you know, the impact that he was having out of reading some of Henri’s books. And I thought, that describes it well. You find something that meets your thirst and then you give it to others. Thank you so much, Ray, for this interview. I’m really grateful.

    And we will definitely put contacts on our website so that people can learn more and follow up more. And I think I might even post the Truth and Reconciliation report, because I think some people might find that very helpful. But thank you so much. This has been good. I really appreciate it.

    Thank you so much for listening to today’s podcast. I deeply enjoyed Dr. Ray Aldred’s insights and his understanding. Oh, my goodness. I won’t be the same. I got so much out of it and I hope it’s the same for you and that you’ll pass it on to others.

    For more resources related to today’s podcast, click on the links on the podcast page of our website. You can find additional content, book suggestions, and other related materials, including a link to books to get you started, in case you’re new to the writings of Henri Nouwen.

    Thanks for listening. Until next time.

In the words of our podcast listeners

"A wonderful podcast that does a deep dive into Nouwen's teachings & influence on other leaders."
Matthew, Canada
"It's a great podcast - that truly pierces your heart!"
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"Karen Pascal does a wonderful job interviewing. There is so much to ponder after each episode."
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