Making Our Lives Available to Others by Henri Nouwen

“One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this: “I have nothing original to say. Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to.” This, however, is not a good argument for not writing. Each human person is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived. Furthermore, what we have lived, we have lived not just for ourselves but for others as well. Writing can be a very creative and invigorating way to make our lives available to ourselves and to others.

We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.”

Emphasis mine.


So “there’s nothing new under the sun.” Well, duh! And if we concentrate on message, we probably will be repeating something that already been said. But if we tell our unique story by formulating an image we have seen, we will be adding to what has been previously written.

One lesson I learned when I returned to school is that life is too important to begin with analysis. We must start with our stories. One might think I leaned this in a creative writing class. But no, it was a class in the sociology of religion. Our lives are our stories. From our stories come the lessons. (A big thank you to Alton B. Pollard III.)


Balcony Room
—for Alton B. Pollard III

Rustling leaves welcome the breezes,
but tree trunks remain silent.
I recognize the cry of an owl,
not the scuffling: that I cannot explain—

nor Jesus in Alton’s face.
Both. Shining. From the dark.
It is not the day that holds the fire—
nor is there consolation in moonlight,

but rather: where time and place
don’t seem to matter,
nor the colors of skin,
falsely bleached by the bright sun

into a feigned harmony,
’til I’ve forgotten if it is hue or tone
of which we vainly speak. Yes,
the night embellished as it deepened,

enhancing, as the night will do,
that which by day remains shadow.
I know what I saw in the upper room:
what cloaked me in gooseflesh—

and beckons gently now.

from Gathering the Broken Pieces, “Poets On Peace #5,” FootHills