Henri Nouwen in his book, “Aging, The Fulfillment of Life”, presents the premise that: “There can hardly be a better image of caring than that of the artist who brings new life to people by (his) honest and and fearless self-portrait.” He references an example given by Horst Gerson in his book, “Rembrandt Paintings”, in that the artist painted sixty three self portraits not just as “a model for studies in expression” but as a “search for the spiritual through the channel of his innermost personality”. Henri concludes that, “Rembrandt felt that he had to enter into his own self, into his dark cellars as well as into his light rooms, if he really wanted to penetrate the mystery of man’s interiority. Rembrandt realized that what is most personal is most universal. While growing in age he was more and more able to touch the core of the human experience, in which individuals in their misery can recognize themselves and find ‘courage and new youth’.” Henri states that unless we are able to paint a realistic self-portrait, we will never be able to reach back and help others “in the midst of the darkness”. He concludes that: “To care one must offer one’s own vulnerable self to others as a source of healing.” But isn’t that the purpose of this blog? What happens if the very people who have this valuable information, the aging among us, are feared and their wisdom ignored? Any thoughts?
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