You Are a Recipient of Light

You Are a Recipient of Light

June 29

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It is indeed the task of everyone who cares to prevent people— young, middle-aged, and old—from clinging to false expectations and from building their lives on false suppositions. If it is true that people age the way they live, our first task is to help people discover their lifestyles in which “being” is not identified with “having,” self-esteem does not depend on success, and goodness is not the same as popularity. Care for the aging means a persistent refusal to attach any kind of ultimate significance to grades, degrees, positions, promotions, or rewards and the courageous effort to keep men and women in contact with their inner self, where they can experience their own solitude and silence as potential recipients of light. When one has not discovered and experienced the light that is love, peace, forgiveness, gentleness, kindness, and deep joy in the early years, how can one expect to recognize it in old age? As the book of Sirach says: “If you have gathered nothing in your youth, how can you find anything in your old age?” (Sirach 25:3–4). That is true not only of money and material goods, but also of peace and purity of heart.

Henri Nouwen

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