A Radical Vision of Care and the Human Journey…
Everything Henri Nouwen wrote about, preached or taught resonated with his care, his compassion, and his deep love for everyone with whom he crossed paths. Henri didn’t shy away from suffering nor was he scandalized by the pain. He was very open about his own physical, emotional and spiritual anguish. Nor did he fail to embrace and nurture those who suffered.
We believe that Henri Nouwen in his writings and teachings has something unique and essential to offer to all caregivers. Through our books, videos and workshops we offer practical and spiritual encouragement to both professional caregivers and to all those who find themselves faced with the “unchosen vocation” of caring for a sick, aging, or incapacitated loved one at home.
Our hope is to provide inspiration for professionals and family members to be transformed by Henri’s unique perspective on caregiving which could impact thousands of people. In this vein, our goal is to help people integrate their spirituality with their practice in order to help them discover a new life-giving way of looking at care and the human journey – a journey that can be at times more transformative for the caregiver than the one being cared for.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”
– Henri Nouwen
The Situation Today…
More and more people are in need of care due to ageing, sickness or disability.
- Healthcare professionals in hospitals, hospices and long care facilities who are overworked and overwhelmed
- Adults caring for ageing parents
- Spouses caring for a husband or wife
- Parents caring for a child
- Siblings caring for siblings
Currently, we are working in collaboration with the Church Health in Memphis to develop a series of books based on Nouwen’s vision for caregiving, including Leadership Guides and Workbooks for retreats, workshops, and other personal use based on Nouwen’s vision for caregiving. The first of these is ready: Hope for Caregivers is a 40 day Devotional bringing spiritual encouragement drawn from the writings of Henri Nouwen.
Phase Two will be about training facilitators to lead caregiving retreats and workshops across North America. We will also be recording particular workshops so as to develop video resources and support materials for caregivers.
The final phase in this caregiving initiative is to develop an online web portal that will be the hub of all caregiving related resources. We recognize that many caregivers are limited in their ability to actually attend workshops or retreats and, therefore, we will endeavour to create webinars and online tools to sustain and nourish them in their sacred journey of care.
“To be a caregiver means to allow those for whom we care to unveil our own illusions of immortality and to claim a much wider and richer understanding of life. Every time we express our faith through the words of the Apostles’ Creed, we say that we believe in life everlasting. It is precisely this faith in eternal life that can radically change our vision of caregiving.”
– Henri Nouwen
What does Caregiving through the lens of Henri Nouwen look like?
At its core, Henri’s vision reveals that caregiving is a deep and heartfelt recognition that we are all beloved sons and daughters of God. There is an innate sense of mutuality between the one who is caring for and the one who is being cared for – a mutuality of dignity and gratitude for sharing and embracing vulnerability as gift, weakness as strength.
Courage for Caregivers – A Radical Vision of Care and the Human Journey is an incredibly meaningful initiative that calls us to ponder how we care for the caregiver while also tending to the needs of the vulnerable who are sick, homeless or living in fear. How does the caregiver care for her/himself? The journey for both people in this relationship is one from dependence to interdependence – a transition that can be an occasion for joy and celebration.
By developing retreat/workshop models, along with print and online resources (including videos and webinars),the Henri Nouwen Society will provide tools to frontline leaders in various spheres of influence, including church communities, health care settings and educational forums. These tools will enable leaders to guide others within their own networks to grow with confidence as caregivers.
Collectively and individually such caregivers would be able to access a community of support through various platforms, including events and a robust website that can serve as a mode of information for resources, networks and online webinars.
The intent of Courage for Caregivers is to help people feel connected into a community of care rather than being isolated in their own circumstances. We will measure the outcomes and impact by tracking the level of interest and participation, and by other trends that surface as we grow this initiative through new partnerships across North America.
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