'While at first it seemed quite obvious who was handicapped and who was not, living together day in and day out made the boundaries less clear.' So writes Henri Nouwen, a Dutch Roman Catholic priest who left academia to live at L'Arche Daybreak, a community centred on core members with disabilities.
This short book reflects on the life of Adam, a young man who needed help with all his day-today activities and could not talk. Nouwen became Adam's carer, reluctantly at first because he saw him as someone 'very different' from himself. Over time, however, the relationship transformed Henri. Adam became his friend and guide, helping him to see more clearly the face of God and to understand his own limitations.
We are used to a Christian viewpoint that encourages us to speak out on behalf of the vulnerable and to care for the weak. We are less familiar with Nouwen's message that God may be speaking to us through these people, if we are willing to receive the gifts they offer us.
Nouwen intended to write a book about the Apostle's Creed. But Adam died, so prompting him to write this moving account instead. I am glad he did.
GP in Leicester