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Finding Vocation in Downward Mobility

Henri Nouwen recalls his move from the elite to the vulnerable.
Finding Vocation in Downward Mobility

From the beginning of my life, two voices have been speaking to me: one saying, Henri, be sure you make it on your own. Be sure you become an independent person. Be sure I can be proud of you, and another voice saying, Henri, whatever you are going to do, even if you don't do anything very interesting in the eyes of the world, be sure you stay close to the heart of Jesus; be sure you stay close to the love of God.

I'm sure we all hear these voices to some degree—one that says, Make something of your life; find a good career, and one that says, Be sure you never lose touch with your vocation. There's a struggle, a tension, there.

At first, I tried to resolve this by becoming a sort of hyphenated priest—a priest-psychologist. People would say, "We don't really like having priests around," and I could reply, "Oh well, I'm a psychologist. I'm clearly in touch with things, so don't laugh at me." I tried hard to keep those two voices ...

May/June
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