March 6th to 9th: Welcome and Introductions

There is immense pain in the wide world around us; there is immense pain in the small world within us. But all pain belongs to Jesus and is transformed by him into glorified wounds that allow
us to recognize him as our risen Lord.”

Henri Nouwen
Walk With Jesus, Preface

Reading: Publisher’s Note 25th Anniversary Edition and Preface

A warm welcome to each of you as we begin our Lenten journey together. I’m looking forward with joy and anticipation to greeting old friends returning for another fruitful discussion and to meeting new friends joining us for the first time. As in years past, a spirit-filled community of people will gather to read and reflect on the words of Henri Nouwen and to share their wisdom, insights, and stories with each other.  Thank you for joining us as we “come apart and rest a while” (Mark 6:31) during this Lenten season.  This is a wonderful opportunity to learn, connect, and grow as we prepare for Easter.

This Lent we’re reading and discussing Henri’s Walk With Jesus – Stations of the Cross. Henri’s meditations were written to accompany Sister Helen David’s the powerful illustrations of our suffering brothers and sisters.  As Henri’s friend and publisher Robert Ellsberg notes, “Henri Nouwen promoted a central, consistent theme: that the Christian life is a matter of following in the footsteps of Jesus.” I can think of no better way of doing so than by joining Jesus on the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows).

These illustrations were inspired by painful situations affecting specific people in particular locations in the late-20th century.  However, the poverty, suffering, violence, and abandonment that are portrayed are ever with us and we are called to respond with love and compassion as Jesus did.  Henri was believed that what was most personal was the most universal.  These meditations and illustrations are timeless and, as Henri wrote, “able to touch the hearts of people living in very different places, in very different times, and in very different circumstances.” (Nomura and Nouwen, Desert Wisdom, Introduction. Orbis Books, 2001).

But before we get started, let’s briefly describe how the discussion works. If you’ve joined us before, this will serve as review:

Each Sunday during Lent you will discover a new “post,” indicated by the bold title, on the blog’s Home page.  Click on the title to enter the post.  There you will find the week’s readings and some questions for discussion.  To leave a comment scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will find the “leave a reply” box.  It works best if you always add any new comment to the newest post, even if you are referring to an earlier post. That way, everyone will see your comment. After you submit a comment, either Ray as moderator or Will at the Nouwen Society need to “approve” it, so it may take a few hours before it actually appears on the blog page.  The instructions on how to submit and reply to comments are also included at the bottom of the reading schedule. If you have any questions about the blog,  please feel free to ask.  To ask a question you can submit a comment or send Ray an email at the address in his bio below.

As we begin our journey together, it’s always nice to learn a little bit about each of you. Over the next few days you are invited to introduce yourself. You may choose to share:

a) Your general geographic location
b) To whom or what you dedicate your days or energy, and why
c) How you came to “know/read” Henri Nouwen and whether or not you participated in a previous discussion.
d) Insights, thoughts or questions that arose as you read the Publisher’s Note and Preface.
e) What you hope to experience during this discussion

Welcome to each of you and I look forward to your introductions!

We begin our Walk With Jesus in earnest this Sunday, March 10th.

In gratitude,


RAY GLENNON: Ray volunteers in his parish Confirmation program and other ministries. He and his wife are members of the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) and a Catholic charismatic community.  Ray came to know and trust Henri’s written word in a special way in 2004 when he found The Return of the Prodigal Son for sale after Mass at the cathedral in Singapore at an important point in his life.  He is currently leading a six-week adult education course on “Henri Nouwen and A Spirituality of Living.”

You may contact Ray at and follow him on Twitter at

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44 Responses to March 6th to 9th: Welcome and Introductions

  1. Patrice Donnelly says:

    In other things, I have been checking off to-do items with care and consistency this Lent! I am a little behind in my posting here, but overall I have found a powerful repentance in simply moving forward with many different tasks performed efficiently and with a purpose. Our entire household is on the same page, too, engaged in the same process, which helps. Now it is time to stop doing, read, reflect, and pray.

    I downloaded the e-book today, the same day that my RE class prayed the stations of the cross. After reading the Preface, walking with one another on the path with Jesus, the points that I have reflected on are (1) slowing down to walk, (2) feeling nature/God’s creation as I walk, and (3) walking with others.

  2. Patrice Donnelly says:

    Hello and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Our Easter cactus is now in bloom. It seems to like Thanksgiving and St. Patrick’s Day (instead of Christmas and Easter!). It’s a little early. My introductory post, however, is on the other end of the spectrum…a little late!
    I am glad to be here with you. I live in Maryland. In the past, when a loved one has passed away, I have dedicated some time to that person and his/her soul. Generally, though, I don’t think so much about who I dedicate my days/energy to, so it is a good question. I guess it is to all those I love and hold dearly, perhaps without always realizing it.
    I was introduced to Henri Nouwen’s writing several times in my life, once in graduate school (working on an MBA of all degrees!), and from friends. I have participated in a prior Lenten discussion, which I enjoyed. In this Lent, I am taking steps to reduce procrastination on several things…opps! Well, not everything has made it quite so well! But I am trying! I have conquered procrastination around exercise, which is terrific.
    I will post again with insights from the reading… I look forward to our discussion!

  3. Kathleen says:

    Hi, I am late joining. I live in New Zealand and work as a hospice nurse.

  4. PJ says:

    I am PJ, a hospice home care and bereavement social worker in Michigan. I learned of Henri Nouwen from a hospice chaplain over 25 years ago. After reading the devotional she provided, I read many more. However I haven’t returned to a book by Henri for many years; only daily snippets. It’s time to review and relearn. I’m looking forward to this Lenten series.

  5. carol k says:

    I live in Maine, semi-retired, but still run several seasonal businesses, as well as volunteer work. I feel particularly needful of nouwen’s insights and subsequent spiritual growth as I start on my own writing venture.
    I first discovered nouwen twelve years ago, via return of prodigal son. I did a Lenten retreat with you several years ago and do look forward to this one, though historically, it’s been difficult to to stay somewhat abreast of the readings/thoughts, let alone comment on the topics.

  6. Brenda George says:

    I am an Episcopalian and live in Howard Ohio. I am a one year survivor of breast cancer. My Lenten studies meant a lot to me last year and brought me closer to Jesus. I’m lookong forward to this study.
    Brenda George

  7. Janet Edwards says:

    Hi, my name is Janet Edwards and I live near Asheville, NC. I have been receiving the Henri Nouwen emails for years. I think the first book I read was The Return of the Prodigal Son and I have participated in these online discussions before. His writings about how we are God’s Beloved really enrich me spiritually and I hope to grow closer to God during this study.

    I am a retired pre-k kindergarten teacher. My husband and I enjoy spending time with our young grandchildren who live nearby. I am seeking to be a spiritual mentor to them as my grandmother was to me. I am also an oblate of St. Meinrad Archabbey and serve on the healing prayer team and help with the Food Pantry at Calvary Episcopal Church.

  8. Cel says:

    Time got away from me and I never did my introduction. Better late than never, I guess. I’m in northern Wyoming. My Lent began early when I woke up Monday with no water. A lot of people are having that trouble due to our long, cold winter, and it took the plumber almost a day and a half to first get here and then find the problem and fix it. In between shoveling snow, I did read the introduction and, as usual, enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to this book, one of many of Henri’s that I have benefited for since the 80’s. I was Director of Religious Education in our parish for 23 years and am now retired. I continue to lead our Bereavement Ministry, which I began during my tenure as DRE and which has been active for about 27 years now. For enrichment, we read and discuss a segment of one of Henri’s books at our monthly meetings. Currently we are working through “A Sorrow Shared”. I have done several of these studies and am looking forward to the wisdom people so generously share.

  9. Suellen Nelson says:

    My name is Suellen and I live in Beacon, New York. I am a Physician Assistant for over 35 years presently working in Dermatology. I hope to retire this year. I have read Henry for many years but much more since major back surgery 2 1/2 years ago that resulted in severe pain for many months. His daily emails get me through many days of chronic pain. I have not done one of these online discussions before so am privileged to participate. My Deacon brother and I often discuss Henri’s thoughts and ideas and I am privileged to have Henri’s spiritual wisdom in my life!

  10. Deb Gustafson says:

    I am Deb Gustafson and have participated in many of the online Advent & Lent studies. I am a retired teacher from North Carolina currently working part time mentoring new teachers and am waiting on the book to arrive! As soon as it makes its way into my hands, I will join you in the discussion.

  11. Hi my name is Martha and I live in Houston, Texas. In April I celebrate 3 years as a stroke survivor. It’s been an amazing journey – a sort of Lenten wilderness of it’s own – but at last I have permission to slow down and “be.” I just lost my job, due to the stroke, and my husband (who is legally blind) just lost his, so we are on the edge of somethings new, living every I-don’t-know day with hope and expectation.

    I love reading, and discussions and Henri Nouwen! And I’m looking forward to getting to know each of you better. Been reading Henri since the ‘80’s, I think, and have always found his words simple and profound, their composition a work of art. I follow the society’s Instagram account and save every post. I’m so excited to join this group – a first for me. This group gives me the structure and accountability I need to stay with the disciplines to which I’ve committed on this journey of Lent. I so need Jesus.

    Great to meet ya’ll and talk with you soon!


  12. Chris Hoffman says:

    My name is Chris Hoffman. I live in Middle Tennessee outside of Nashville. Retired 2-1/2 years ago from a career as a purchasing and inventory manager with a manufacturer in Iowa outside of Omaha, Nebraska.

    I am new to reading books from Henri Nouwen. I have always enjoyed quotes from him as they passed in front of my eyes. The first book I read was “Hear and Now” during the last Advent book study. Since then I have read the “Return of the Prodigal Son” and am currently reading “You are the Beloved”. I am looking forward to our upcoming conversation as we read through “Walk with Jesus”. I do like how Henri Nouwen continually draws us to what is of our first importance recognizing that God’s love for us goes beyond anything we can imagine which encourages us to allow his love radiate out to others.

  13. Beth says:

    I’m a retired public library reference librarian. My husband and I will celebrate our 50th anniversary this summer.

    Am waiting for my copy of the book and join the discussion after it arrives. Thanks ahead for moderating this international group of people!

  14. Pat Martin says:

    Hello from central Illinois. I participated in an Advent online Nouwen discussion group a year or two ago and have been meeting with a few others for about ten years to discuss books written by Henri Nouwen. I was working as a high school librarian when we started meeting but am now retired and reading less than when I was working. I believe that “Walk With Jesus” provides the focus I need for Lent this year. Even though I know to do otherwise, I have been concentrating on what I should do or not do.

  15. Phil Smith says:

    I have joined quite a number of these discussions in the past and look forward to this Lent’s. I live in Derbyshire in the U.K. I have been married to my wife for 23 years and have 3, practically, grown up children (between 17 and 21).
    I am now involved in pastoral care in a school for 11-18 year olds, as a member of support staff, after 30 years in teaching (with 23 years in leadership roles, up to principal). I was intrigued to see that this was one of Henri Nouwen’s earliest books in the transition of his life from feted professor to humble chaplain; maybe I can learn from this. I know that the challenge of helping others see their “belovedness” is great indeed. It is one of the reasons I have pointed so many to Henri Nouwen’s writings over the years.
    Another point that struck me, from the preface, was the notion of their being no distinction, in the heart of Jesus, between the pain and suffering of people; whoever suffers has the possibility of being healed, it’s more to do with accepting healing rather than worrying whether we deserve it. I’m sure a greater recognition of this will, indeed, see people “lifted up” alongside Jesus … now and in their future … to life well- lived.

    I’m really looking forward to looking at the stations of the cross anew, as I’ve let this reflection become a little staid over the years. I also look forward to learning from fellow contributors on these pages. Here’s to a great Lent.

  16. Marge says:

    Coming once again, my name is Marge and I look forward to joining in reading and sharing…walking with Jesus and all of you. I’m eagerly awaiting spring here in central IL, but also know, there is much hidden growth happening…..interestingly, some of you mentioned “Reaching Out”….current reading for me as well…especially hospitality, moving from hostility to hospitality…also Nouwen’s thoughts connecting hospitality/host…”Poverty makes a good host.”…”poverty of mind, poverty of heart”….and “not to master God but to be mastered by God”. Somehow, I feel like this reading is prelude as I choose and surrender to all that is to come….

  17. Hello from the Abbey of the Genesee (which as you no doubt know was where Henri wrote two of his books).

    My name is Michael Jordan, and I am a Wesleyan pastor and the Dean of the Chapel at Houghton College, a small Christian college about 45 mins. south of the Abbey. That means that I plan all of our campus worship services and serve sort of as a campus pastor. I’m at the Abbey on retreat.

    I first became acquainted with Nouwen shortly after his death, when an undergraduate professor would read a short excerpt from his work for devotions at the beginning of class. Since then, I have read Nouwen’s work off and on but made a commitment to read all of his published work that I have not read during 2019. I haven’t read Walk With Jesus yet, so was glad when I saw this and had the chance to read with this group, with which I was not acquainted until now.

    I will be going up to the Abbey bookstore to buy the book later today; the bookstore is still staffed by the man Henri called “good-natured Brother Christian.” He seems less inclined (able?) than the others to keep silence, so I think they put him to work in a public place so he can use his gifts. 🙂

    After purchasing the book I’ll share some thoughts.

  18. Liz Forest says:

    Returning again to be nourished by Henri Nouwen wisdom. Our home(my husband and I)is in the city called the “Big Apple”. What’s big here now are the very low temperatures making some of us house hermits and others going out wrapped in three layers for warmth. My retired from education time is spent with music as in church choir and community chorus. Online I share my spiritual walk with members of “The Monastery of the Heart” ministry sponsored by the Erie PA Benedictines. For renewal time, I am blessed to be near the Passionist Monastery/Retreat house where I spend sacred time away for a day and weekend retreats. In between household tasks, I like to walk in the nearby cemetery where nature speaks to me of our Creator. Those who reside there are quiet.
    Surely we will be blessed by our discussion, enriched with more wisdom to share with others.

  19. George and Grace says:

    We are Canadians who have lived in Asia most of our lives. We now live and work in northeast China. Henri Nouwen’s book “Reaching Out” was formative for me (Grace) when I read it during my university years and we have read other of Henri’s books in the years since. We look forward to “Walk with Jesus” this Lent in the company of other followers of Jesus.

  20. D Gene Mason says:

    Hello everyone from Rapid City SD. I have just retired after spending fifteen years, sharing my life with people with Intellectual Disabilities. I am currently creating a ministry called Circle of Friends, which takes the love and compassion of Jesus to meet the spiritual needs of all abilities. Henri Nouwen’s book ” Reaching Out” was the first book that I read. It was required Seminary reading. Of course ” Adam God’s Beloved” is my favorite work by Henri Nouwen . Peace be with you all

  21. Mary Fitzpatrick says:

    Hello, I am Mary and live in Annapolis, Maryland. The name Ray Glennon sounds very familiar to me.

    I first heard of Henri Nouwen in the late 1970s.

    Not usually a sharer of my faith, I hope to become better.

  22. Ernie Rivard says:

    Good to see so many of you participating in this discussion! This is the first time I have joined a Nouwen online reading group. I am looking forward to some refreshment and reconnecting with Henri and the Spirit through our sharing in the weeks ahead.

    I have been blessed in marriage for 41 years and have an adult son with disability still living at home with us in central Massachusetts. Last year, I retired from full-time ministry as a pastoral associate and retreat director. I am a Passionist Associate and have served many years at Passionist retreat centers in the eastern U.S.

    I was fortunate to have met Henri in 1995 on a retreat he was leading in Rye, NY. The encounter deeply influenced my life and ministry thereafter. Henri’s way of being with people, of including them and of leading retreats changed me. Since ’95, I have been honored to meet many of Henri’s friends, lead retreats with some of them and to have traveled to Toronto several times visiting the archives and Daybreak community. Henri has had such a blessed impact on so many of us! I pray his guidance will lead us all to new fruitfulness this Lent!

  23. Patricia Hesse says:

    I am a teacher in northeast Arkansas. I definitely benefited from participating in the Advent discussion and have am eager to listen to the insight of others in this one.

  24. Joe says:

    My name is Joe, I live in California and I am a school teacher. I taught for 11 years in a Catholic School where I taught Religion but the school I worked at was having problems so I moved to a public school. Please help me pray for all students that they may realize the importance of education and to be respectful of their teachers.
    I was introduced to Henri Nouwen in part by my sister, various readings followed by “Return of the Prodigal”which I really connected with. Being Catholic I travel with lots of guilt so I am hoping that this process will help me focus on my connection with Christ and not on my sins. My book is a 1990 printing so I am missing that part of the introduction.
    Thanks and peace be with you all.

  25. Hello to all.

    I am Beverly from Louisville, KY. I’ve been a fan of Henri Nouwen for many years. I was spiritually formed by Henri’s books and message in “The Living Reminder.” I’ve been privileged to be involved in this discussion forum for some years. I’ve found that even when I walk with strangers, “I discover that it is because of my brothers and sisters who walk with me that I can make the journey at all” (Preface: Kindle, p8).

  26. Clara Cullen says:

    My name is Clara Cullen
    Im from argentina. I recive Henri Nowen daiily reflection, and this is the first time that i will participate on lent.
    I excuse myself pfor my english

  27. Vanessa says:

    My name is Vanessa. I live in North Carolina. I have been a neonatal/pediatric nurse for over 40 years. I will retire in January. I have enjoyed and been blessed by reading Henri Nouwen’s books for several years. I have never done one of these book discussions, and I’m so looking forward to it this Lenten season.

  28. Karen Jaworski says:

    I’m Karen, I’m currently in Discernment for the Diaconate in Houston Texas. I’m excited to join this book discussion.

    I’ve read several posts by many of you who are in pain, physical and mental. I will add you to my prayers.
    Peace to all of you,

  29. Anne Leitner says:

    Hi, I’m Anne. I am a retired RN and active in my parish’ s Visitation Ministry & Bible Study. I found this book discussion and decided it would be perfect for this Lent. I am looking forward to a closer walk with Jesus through these forty days . Thanks for having me.

  30. Patty tomaso says:

    My name is Patty and I live in Dallas. My husband and I are on the RCIA team at our parish in addition to other ministries. A friend introduced me to Henri Nouwen several (15?) years ago and I have shared his books with others ever since. I find his simple words so compelling.
    I spend my working hours as a pilates instructor as I love helping people feel stronger physically, which also makes one feel better emotionally!
    This is my first book study online and my first Nouwen study and I am anxious to get closer to Jesus in the process!
    Thank you for making this possible. And may God bless all of us as we make our Lenten journey!

  31. Henri Schuyers says:

    I am in Emeryville ca, have and still love Henri Nouwen, have had many discussions about his books but haven’t participated in an online discussion, looking forward to seeing other responses on the words of Henri and hoping for a wonderful lent

  32. Maggie Menendez says:

    Hi everyone, my name is Maggie and I’m from Miami. I’m a nurse by profession but I left the clinical practice about 8 years ago to help my ageing parents to care for my disabled twin brothers. Why? Because I felt the call to do so. I found out about Henri Nouwen looking for literature about caregivers and I found a book that was an epiphany to me: A Spirituality of Caregiving. And I fell in love with him. I have never done anything like this book discussion, but I’m looking forward to walk with you all during this lent. I’m also looking to get to know Jesus better, getting close to him and letting him transform my life. Thanks for having me.

  33. Ann McComas-Bussa says:

    Hello Everyone,
    I live and work in Minnesota near the Twin Cities. I teach Theology at a Catholic High School and I just love it so much!!! I believe teaching is a sacred vocation. I read Nouwen’s works when I was in school getting my MAT. He writes with such clarity and transparency, it is as if I am reading a letter from a dear friend. I love Lent! And each year my family and me take on new and out-of-the-box Lenten commitments. This online book study will be a new one for me, and I look forward to the experience.

  34. Janet Ballis Lestock says:

    Greetings from Hudson Wisconsin. I work in Minneapolis, MN at Augsburg University in the graduate admissions area. I was introduced to Henri Nouwen by a Young Life leader in 1979 and this opened up a whole new understanding of grace to me. Henri’s words broaden my perspective – 40 years later, his words continue to help center me.

  35. Debbie Vaughn says:

    I find the Lenten studies always helpful to my spiritual growth having done the studies in 2016 and 2017. I team teach a Confirmation class in my parish, am director of my parish’s religious education program, and recently began discernment as a spiritual director. This book study was one I couldn’t resist! Lent is a time for me to focus on Jesus and all he’s done for me!

  36. Jane Arney says:

    Greetings! I’m in Atlanta. I fell in love with Nouwen’s writings when I discovered the Return of the Prodigal Son several years ago and was inspired to start an art and faith blog, Infinite Windows (though I’m on hiatus to complete my doctoral dissertation in art history). His Life of the Beloved recently rocked my world and I’ve been following the emailed readings daily. I’m a grant writer for a Christian organization that serves the homeless. I’m involved in prison ministry, really have love in my heart for incarcerated women since younger me could easily have ended up there. I’m struggling with my Catholic affiliation lately due to the priest sex abuse scandal.

  37. Thank you. I am an Indian Christian Brother residing in Shillong Meghalaya, India. I came to like Henri Nouwen when I read his book “With Open Hands” in 1976. Since then I have read whatever books have been published by him. I have gifted copies of his “Return of the Prodigal” and ” You are my Beloved” to many people.
    We cannot buy foreign publications unless they are sold in India due to foreign Exchange regulations.
    I use my energy to help poor tribal pupils pass their school leaving examination besides trying to build them up. God bless, Br. T. Pinto

  38. Tonya Minton says:

    Hi all,

    My name is Tonya and I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I have studied several of Henri Nouwen books for classes that I have taken and they spoke to me so much that I have engaged in others. I’m looking forward to this study as a way of leaning into this Lenten time.

    Nancy, I’m sorry for your grief. You will be in my prayers for peace and relief.

  39. Brenda Laronde says:

    Hello brothers and sisters from Ontario, Canada. I am a retired R.N. but still working part time taking care of seniors. I love the work and it fills my days with helping, caring and giving. I have joined in a book discussion before with the Henri Nouwen people but I haven’t done so in quite a while now. This Lent I am hoping to deepen my walk with Jesus and become more involved in his sufferings. I hope to fast and pray more than I ever have during this Lent. Praying for all of you and hope to read some interesting posts too! God Bless. VIVA CRISTO REY!

  40. Barry Bruce says:

    Hope to order my book today.

  41. Joyce McCoy says:

    Joining this discussion for the first time. I heard about Henri .noiwen from a dear friend and pastor and have read his books for 6 ye#rs. Looking forward to this series

  42. Nancy Wickett says:

    My name is Nancy. I live in Round Rock, TX with my husband of 42 years, Don. 2 years ago my Dad (now 94) moved in with us. I suffer from chronic physical pain and emotional anguish. I have 2 sons in Heaven. My identical twin son, Todd was stillborn in 1981. His surviving twin lives here in TX with his sweet family. My youngest son, Philip, died by suicide at the age of 23 in 2007. Nothing prepares a mom to lose her child or children. It’s horrific grief. I have closed my Facebook account for Lent hoping I will do a daily Bible reading. I need PEACE!

  43. I am 80years 24/7pain from multiple injuries:’hit&run’ crime many years ago
    I would like to make prayer, communion with Christ the core of my effort during Lent
    -to be still
    -to listen
    -to seek Christ
    -to reflect Christ to others as I go about life’s journey

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