31 January 2009

Henri Nouwen

I was introduced to Henri Nouwen by a dear friend some years ago. She showed me where to A book by Henri Nouwenfind little extracts on the internet and I read them avidly for several years. The collection cycles round annually so eventually they become quite familiar. Even so, I'm still signed up to the mailing list and read them from time to time.

This year she sent a small book in which Philip Roderick asks Henri Nouwen a series of questions. The answers do not disappoint!

You can try the daily extracts for yourself by visiting the website HenriNouwen.org and signing up on the Free eLetters page. The short book (one of many) is called 'Beloved', you can find it online at Amazon or order a copy through any good bookshop.

So why do I like Henri Nouwen's writings so much?

Thoughtful writing - The main reason is that he was such a contemplative believer. He wrote nothing without thinking about it carefully and, one suspects, long. His life was spent in serving others, and sharing in community with them. He lived in a l'Arche community for the mentally handicapped for some years, sharing his life with those who could not care fully for themselves. Everything he said, did, or wrote came from a heart of love, gentleness, and caring.

Most important of all was Henri's deep understanding of the heart of Christ. He knew there was a depth of love and caring in Jesus and in the Father, and that only when that is reflected in our own hearts and lives can we truly claim to be his children. You can get a glimpse of this by watching the video.

Wikipedia has a short article on Henri Nouwen. It provides a basic biographical introduction, some good quotations, and a bibliography.

I recommend Nouwen's writing to anyone who'd like to experience a careful, thoughtful, gentle, loving heart in action. What better way to finish than with a quotation?...

You cannot live in communion with God without living in solidarity with people; it is essentially the same.

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