WELCOMING THE STRANGER


Many readers will be familiar with a well known book called Anam Chara by the late John O Donohue with whom I shared my seminary days. In that he has a piece that captures the essence of what it means to welcome the stranger. We generally think of the stranger as being the person out there that we don’t know. However, an equally valid way would be to think of the stranger within ourselves; the parts of ourselves we are estranged from and still need to get to know. This was what John had to say: 'Our lives would be immeasurably enriched if we could but bring the same hospitality to meet the negative as we bring to the joyful and the pleasurable. In avoiding the negative we only encourage it to recur. We need a new way of understanding and integrating the negative. The negative is one of the closest friends of our destiny. It contains essential energies which we need, and cannot find elsewhere'.

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