N is for Henri J.M. Nouwen

I have read Mr Nouwen’s words, on and off, hither and thither throughout the course of my life.  I have agreed and disagreed with his understanding, his experience of God. Really, how does one, how dare one, disagree with someone’s experience? And yet, it is something we do, all the time, especially when it comes to God.

But my experience is mine and is not for you to agree or disagree with. Just as yours, and indeed Mr. Nouwen’s was his. And, what’s not to like about a man who loved Vincent‘s art?


For a taste of his words, here are a few excerpts from his book,  Life of the Beloved which I read in 2015 as part of my quiet morning time:

  • We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life…all of our life. (page 106)
  • More surely than ever before, I know now that we are called to give our very lives to one another and that, in so doing, we become a true community of love. (page 115)
  • We have to find the courage to embrace our own brokenness, to make our most feared enemy into a friend, and to claim it as an intimate companion. I am convinced that healing is often so difficult because we don’t want to know the pain. (page 92)
  • Your life and my life are, each of them, one of a kind. No one has lived your life or my life before, and no one will ever live them again. Our lives are unique stones in the mosaic of human experience – priceless and irreplaceable. (page 65)
  • Deep in the recesses of our minds and hearts there lies hidden the treasure we seek. (page 44)

And because, writers – great writers – move within us and pull forth our own truth,  words of mine that I jotted down as I read this book:

We fear the presence of the Beloved as much as we fear
knowing we are Beloved.

If you’d like to know more about Henri Nouwen, his writing, his life and the work that continues on, in his name, you may want to visit the Henri Nouwen Society here  where you’ll find an article entitled

Priest, Writer, Mentor, Misfit: Understanding Henri Nouwen


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