The Spiritual Task of Henry Nouwen

“The great spiritual task facing me is to so fully trust that I belong to God that I can be free in the world–free to speak even when my words are not received; free to act even when my actions are criticized, ridiculed, or considered useless…. I am convinced that I will truly be able to love the world when I fully believe that I am loved far beyond its boundaries.”
 -Henri J.M. Nouwen,
 “Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life”

Henri Nouwen’s work has always interested me.  I haven’t always understood it.  His book,  “Wounded Healer”, was one I had to read in a class nearly a decade ago. It spoke to my heart then and helped me appreciate how the God of All Comfort brings comfort to us in order that we might bring comfort to others. More recently in a ministry group I had to read this one, “Reaching Out”.  It appears that Nouwen sought to fully give himself over to trusting God and humbling himself for however God wished to use him.  I wonder if he ever felt that he got there?  Is it a steady state that can be achieved, or something like the vibration of an atom….back and forth, never in the same place more than a tiny fraction of a second, but only just long enough for one to realize that there is another way to see and be?   I notice that it is very first person….”the task facing me”….not painted with a broad brush or seeking to draw others into that journey, necessarily. Did he feel that this was his journey and spiritual task alone….or something that he believed others should and could relate to and experience?  One would assume that if he went to the extent of putting it in a book, he must have thought others could and perhaps would journey there, too.  How much of anyone’s journey is shared, in common with others, and how much is entirely solitary?    

One Response

  1. Daniel
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    I can’t even express how tilemy this is for me. Just when I began to fear that I might not have a place in the Body of Christ (or in the world, to put it in secular terms), I opened my email and found this devotional. However, I still have a lingering fear that I might never find my place in the Body, but I suppose God will show it to me in time.

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