Dutch-born Catholic Priest and Writer
Henri Nouwen, fully Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen
Dutch-born Catholic Priest and Writer
In solitude we realize that nothing human is alien to us.
Much violence is based on the illusion that life is a property to be defended and not to be shared.
Praying demands that you take to the road again and again, leaving your house and looking forward to a new land for yourself and your [fellow human]. This is why praying demands poverty, that is, the readiness to live a life in which you have nothing to lose so that you always begin afresh.
The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation.
To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.
When two people have become present to each other, the waiting of one must be able to cross the narrow line between the living or dying of the other.
In their poverty, the mentally handicapped reveal God to us and hold us close to the gospel.
Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not How am I to find God? but How am I to let myself be found by him? The question is not How am I to know God? but How am I to let myself be known by God? And, finally, the question is not How am I to love God? but How am I to let myself be loved by God? God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.
Real care means the willingness to help each other in making our brokenness into the gateway to joy.
The man who articulate the movements of his inner life, who can give names to his varied experiences, need no longer be a victim of himself, but is able slowly and consistently to remove the obstacles that prevent the spirit from entering. He is able to create space for Him who heart is greater than his, whose eyes see more than his, and whose hands can heal more than his.
To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear the voice of blessing-- that demands real effort.
When we are crushed like grapes, we cannot think of the wine we will become.
It is hard to bear with people who stand still along the way, lose heart, and seek their happiness in little pleasures which they cling to... You feel sad about all that self-indulgence and self-satisfaction, for you know with an indestructible certainty that something greater is coming.
Often we come home from a sharing session with a feeling that something precious has been taken away from us or that holy ground has been trodden upon.
Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don't receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.
The more we become sensitive to our own journey the more we realize that we are leaving and coming back every day, every hour. Our minds wander away but eventually return; our hearts leave in search of affection and return sometimes broken; our bodies get carried away in their desires then sooner or later return. It's never one dramatic life moment but a constant series of departures and returns.
To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it it is the movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit, l from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.
When we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative.
It is my growing conviction that my life belongs to others just as much as it belongs to myself and that what is experienced as most unique often proves to be most solidly embedded in the common condition of being human.
Once we deeply trust that we ourselves are precious in God's eyes, we are able to recognize the preciousness of others and their unique places in God's heart.
Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the Beloved. Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.
The mystery of one man is too immense and too profound to be explained by another man.
To the degree that we embrace the truth that our identity is not rooted in our success, power, or popularity, but in God's infinite love, to that degree can we let go of our need to judge.
When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope.
It is this nothingness (in solitude) that I have to face in my solitude, a nothingness so dreadful that everything in me wants to run to my friends, my work, and my distractions so that I can forget my nothingness and make myself believe that I am worth something. The task is to persevere in my solitude, to stay in my cell until all my seductive visitors get tired of pounding on my door and leave me alone. The wisdom of the desert is that the confrontation with our own frightening nothingness forces us to surrender ourselves totally and unconditionally.