When We Have Nothing to Lose

When We Have Nothing to Lose

May 8

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When we feel lonely we have such a need to be liked and loved that we are hypersensitive to the many signals in our environment and easily become hostile toward anyone whom we perceive as rejecting us. But once we have found the center of our life in our own heart and have accepted our aloneness not as a fate but as a vocation, we are able to offer freedom to others. Once we have given up our desire to be fully fulfilled, we can offer emptiness to others. Once we have become poor, we can be a good host. It is indeed the paradox of hospitality that poverty makes a good host. Poverty is the inner disposition that allows us to take away our defenses and convert our enemies into friends. We can only perceive the stranger as an enemy as long as we have something to defend. But when we say, “Please enter—my house is your house, my joy is your joy, my sadness is your sadness, and my life is your life,” we have nothing to defend, since we have nothing to lose but all to give.

Henri Nouwen

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