Day 06 – Can You Drink the Cup? – Henri Nouwen

Day 06

Can You Drink the Cup?

Henri Nouwen

Chapter 2

When I first came to L’Arche Daybreak, I saw much sorrow,I was asked to care for Adam, a twenty- two-year-old man who could not speak, could not walk alone, did not show signs of recognition. He had a curved back, suffered from daily epileptic seizures, and often had intestinal pains. When I first met Adam, I was afraid of him. His many handicaps made him a stranger to me, a man I wanted to avoid.

Soon after I met Adam I also came to know his brother Michael. Although Michael could speak a little and was able to walk by himself and even fulfill some minor tasks, he too was severely handicapped and needed constant attention to make it through the day. Adam and Michael are the only children of Jeanne and Rex.

Michael lived at home until he was twenty-five and Adam until he was eighteen. Jeanne and Rex would have loved to continue to keep the boys at home. However, time was eroding the physical resources required to look after their sons and so they entrusted them to the L’Arche Daybreak community, hoping to find a good home for them there.

I was quite overwhelmed with the sorrows of this little family. Four people burdened by worries and pain, by fear of unexpected complications, by the inability to communicate clearly, by a sense of great responsibility, and by an awareness that life will only become harder as age increases.
But Adam, Michael, and their parents are part of a much greater sorrow. There is Bill, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, who needs a pacemaker for his heart and a breathing machine for his lungs during the night, and who is in constant fear of falling. He has no parents to visit. His parents never were able to care for him, and both died at a rather young age.

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