24 May 2019
In his book about life at L’Arche, Nouwen observes rather surprisingly, ‘The dinner table at the New House was where most of Adam’s miracles took place.’ He goes on to say that Adam didn’t do anything. He wasn’t curing the blind, the lame and the dead.
‘He was just there. But his ‘being there’ touched people’s hearts and souls in a profound way … there was a discovery that he, we, and the whole world had a new meaning, a new significance, a new purpose.’ he writes.
And so it was that one of Nouwen’s friends came to visit. Murray was appalled that the former university teacher had given up his career to care for people with developmental disabilities. He was afraid his writing would stop.
At first Murray wanted to stay in a hotel but Nouwen insisted that he stay in the Guest Room at L’Arche. Surprisingly, the rich and successful businessman was at home there.
One morning, Murray was sitting at table beside Adam. Nouwen was helping to feed Adam. There was an urgent phone call. Nouwen left and asked Murray to continue. Despite his anxiety, he agreed.
Later on, he told Nouwen that during the next half hour as he sat with Adam, he began to see him not as a disabled person completely different from himself ‘but as a beautiful human being who shared with him many vulnerabilities’.
Despite his successful business career, he had his own struggles, fears, failures and disabilities. As Nouwen observes, ‘Sitting beside Adam, helping him with his breakfast, was for Murray a moment of grace as he realised that he and Adam were brothers.’