The Inner Voice of Who Knows What

the pilgrimage: Henri Nouwen and my own topsy-turvy little heart

Day 29: Stand up.

Henri, Stand Erect in Your Sorrow:

The question is “Can you stand erect in your pain, your loneliness, your fears, and your experience of being rejected?” The danger is that you will be swept off your feet by these feelings. They will be here for a long time, and they will go on tempting you to be drowned in them. But you are called to acknowledge them and feel them while remaining on your feet.

Remember, Mary stood under the cross. She suffered her sorrow standing. Remember, Jesus spoke about the cosmic disasters and the glorious appearance of the Son of Man and said to his disciples, “When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand” (Luke 2:28). Remember, Peter and John cured the crippled man who was begging at the temple entrance. Peter said to him, “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!” (Acts 3:6). Then he took him by the right hand and helped him to stand up.

You have to dare to stand erect in your struggles. The temptation is to complain, to beg, to be overwhelmed and find your satisfaction in the pity you evoke. But you know already that this is not gaining for you what your heart most desires. As long as you remain standing, you can speak freely to others, reach out to them, and receive from them. Thus you speak and act from your center and invite others to speak and act from theirs. In this way, real friendships are possible and real community can be formed. God gives you the strength to stand in your struggles and to respond to them standing.


When I think of standing, I think of not hiding. Not hiding imperfections, or poor choices, or past hurts, or current hurts, or the chaos inside that sometimes goes unseen.
Not hiding the good that I have to offer, or  the joy I have to bring to a community, or the gifts and assets and growing wisdom I possess.

Standing is invitational, inviting others into knowing me.
Sitting down and hunched over, I can keep myself to myself – with a throne chair enfolding me into its arms, long and full hair hiding my eyes from the outside, a thick scarf waterfalling from neck to lap to shield my torso from any new acquaintance, crossed legs and crossed arms and a cross look when the desire is isolation.

Standing says, here I am. I place myself in front of you, to invite you to know me. I do this because I believe we will find something good in knowing one another. We can speak about my sorrow and your sorrow, we can speak about my joy and your joy. I can let you know the insides of me and trust that you will treat them kindly.

Standing means being bold with all of who I am.


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