Nouwen Then: Mentally Handicapped Secret
By presence I mean attentiveness to the blessings that come to you day after day, year after year. The problem of modern living is that we are too busy—looking for affirmation in the wrong places?—to notice that we are being blessed. It is not easy for us, busy people, to truly receive a blessing. Perhaps the fact that few people offer a real blessing is the sad result of the absence of people who are willing and able to receive such a blessing. It has become extremely difficult for us to stop, listen, pay attention, and receive gratefully what is offered to us.
Living with people who have a mental handicap makes this clear to me. They have many blessings to offer, but when I am forever busy, forever on the way to something important, how can I receive those blessings? Adam, one of the members of my community, cannot speak, cannot walk alone, cannot eat without help, cannot dress or undress himself, but he has great blessings to offer to those who take the time to be present with him, holding him or just sitting with him. It is a blessing that comes from simple presence.
Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved, from the chapter called "Blessed"