Feb 17th to Feb 20th: Welcome and Introductions

Reading: Foreward, by Sr. Sue Mosteller, C.S.J., Henri’s friend and
Literary Executrix, p. vii t0 xi.

The book recounts an “odyssey” of friendship; it required the stature
of a “Ulysses” to make the exhausting journey
and write five books along the way.
Sr. Sue Mosteller, from the Foreward

Welcome to the Henri Nouwen Society Lent book discussion of Sabbatical Journey – The Diary of His Final Year, written by Henri Nouwen while on sabbatical in the year preceding his untimely death on September 21, 1996. Our discussion of Henri’s diary of his final year is one of the ways the Society is celebrating Henri’s legacy during this 25th anniversary of Henri’s passing. As always, we look forward to greeting 0ld friends and welcoming new ones in our virtual community as we journey through the season together with Henri as our guide.

As Sr. Sue notes in the Foreward, Henri made his last entry on August 30, 1996 and he died before rereading or editing the journal. In preparing the book for publication, Sr. Sue’s goal was to be “faithful to his original text. I have not made many changes. The result is that the book lacks his completeness and finesse but it brims with his life and spirit.” We the readers are the beneficiaries of this approach. This Lent we will share the last year of Henri’s vibrant and exhausting life as he experienced it. We will see Henri with his many friends, in a close and mature relationship with his father after many years, in his solitude, as he is writing, and in personal prayer as well as his priestly Eucharistic ministry. I’m confident that you will grow in your understanding of Henri and be enriched by your participation.

Let’s briefly describe how our online book discussion works. If you’ve joined us before, this will serve as a review.

Beginning on February 21st, the First Sunday of Lent, and each Sunday through March 28th a new entry or post will be added to the book discussion (the blog) home page. The post will identify the reading for the week, present a brief moderator’s reflection, and suggest some questions for discussion. Participants are invited and encouraged to comment on the post by responding to the suggested questions, by sharing their own reflections, and by replying to the comments of others throughout the week.

To read the comments or to leave a comment of your own, scroll down to the bottom of the post.  If you don’t see any comments, click on the small link at the bottom that says
## Comments.  To leave a new comment, continue scrolling down and use the “Leave a Reply” box.  To reply to someone else’s comment, click the Reply link directly below their comment. After you submit a new comment or a reply, it needs to be “approved” either by me or Will at the Nouwen Society so it may take a few hours before it actually appears on the blog page.

You should always post your comment in the current week. If you are unsure, click on the Home link in the black bar under the photograph at the top of the blog to navigate to the current week. Then click on the bold title to open the post and any comments. Finally, the instructions on how to submit and reply to comments are also included with the Reading Schedule found by at following the the link in black bar.

As we begin our journey together, it’s always nice to know something about our companions. Over the next few days you are encouraged to introduce yourself. You may choose to share:

  • Your general geographic location
  • To whom or what you dedicate your days or energy, and why
  • How you came to “know/read” Henri Nouwen and whether or not you participated in a previous discussion
  • What you hope to experience during this discussion
  • Any thoughts and insights you gained from reading the Foreward

We begin our discussion of Sabbatical Journey – The Diary of His Final Year in earnest this Sunday, February 21st. In Sr. Sue’s words, “May the gift of Henri’s word and example shepherd us and lead us to find each other in friendship, welcome the questions arising from our search, share our joys and pains, and befriend death by trusting the One Who waits to catch and reunite us in everlasting joy.”

Meanwhile, welcome to each of you and I look forward to your introductions!

In gratitude,

RAY GLENNON: Ray came to know and trust Henri’s written word in a special way in 2004 when he discovered The Return of the Prodigal Son for sale after Mass in Singapore. He began participating in Henri Nouwen Society book discussions in 2010 and has served as a moderator since 2014. He developed and led a six-week adult education course on “Henri Nouwen and A Spirituality of Living.” Ray volunteers in his parish Confirmation program and other ministries. He and his wife are candidates in the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS). You may contact Ray by email at ray.glennon@1972.usna.com and you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/@RayGlennon.

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84 Responses to Feb 17th to Feb 20th: Welcome and Introductions

  1. Patricia A Kaiser says:

    Sept. 19, 2995 Nouwen delights in Jonas playing shakuhachi. My dear friend, Royce, has a son who has played the instrument with excellence many years. I heard him once perform with a local koto ensemble. Apart from my fondness for the shakuhachi, I am moved by seeing Henri had a very close relationship with our Lord, in the beauty of friendship and prayer. Although zen practice is foreign to many Catholics, I feel a bond with Henri for his acceptance of eastern practices, since Catholic zen meditation made a difference in my life. The call to me is to revisit and draw from those experiences that gave me a personal sense of beauty and truth. His awareness of his own anxieties , as on 10/23, is a gift not all have, knowing ‘even the best of things, became a distraction’. His life is very full, and he seems to be taken by much around him. It is a trade-off, loving/engaging others and shutting out the world to create/write. Both were important to him, and each prevailed at one time or another. How can it be otherwise?

  2. Mary J says:

    Hi, sorry I’m joining the group late – I recently returned from our son’s wedding in Turkey and ordered the book which just arrived. Happy to start reading. I live in the Hudson Valley area of New York. I can’t recall exactly when I started reading Nouwen’s books but have many of them and frequently give them to others when they are experiencing times of difficulty. Appreciate the introduction to Sabbatical Journey as one I do not have. I have been reading the daily devotionals for many years, and look forward to seeing them every morning. Look forward to the virtual discussions during this Lent.

  3. John T Smith says:

    Hello All,
    I am joining the discussion from East Tennessee, near Knoxville. Much of my energy is devoted to my vocation as a community college professor of mathematics and statistics, I am a happily married husband, father, and grandfather. This is my first time participating in an online book discussion based on the work of Henri Nouwen. I am not sure where I first became aware of his work. During my dissertation research I had come across the work of Parker Palmer. I also found my way to Richard Rohr’s website. Henri Nouwen’s writing was referenced in both places. From there I found my way to this website and began receiving the daily devotional email. Time and time again these daily devotionals have provided just what I needed, when I needed it. As to what I hope to experience, my walk of faith has been diverse and inconsistent. I was raised in an Irish American Catholic family. My first few years of school were in a Catholic School. However, eventually I moved away from the Catholic Church and tried to hide from God for several years. Trying to hide did not work, that still small voice never left. When I returned to church as a young husband and expectant father, I was nearly 30 and began attending a Protestant Church. In the years since I was in and out of church, enduring a painful divorce and family tragedies. During those years I attended churches of different Protestant denominations. Currently, I am a member of the small Southern Baptist Church where my wife was raised. We live in her hometown. Full disclosure, I am extremely uncomfortable with the politics of much of my current church family, but that does not prevent me from loving them very much. In the last few years, I have become aware of my Quaker roots, which has aroused great curiosity. I hope this was not over-sharing, but I felt like I needed to provide enough background information to answer the question, what do I hope to experience? My spiritual and academic pursuits are rooted in a sense of wonder. I have studied Eastern and Western philosophy which I found fascinating. I think I can best be described as a seeker. As I approach a new season of life, I am confronting the “what’s next” question. I hope my participation in this book discussion helps me with that question.
    The sentence I have returned to again and again from the forward. “There is so much quiet, hidden depth and beauty here that the rapid curious reader risks disappointment.” As my spiritual journey deepens, I cannot think of better advice as we undertake this journey together. The second message I found from the Foreword is that I really must be much more disciplined in my journaling. I am looking forward to this time with fellow seekers.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Greetings from Sydney Australia. This is my 3rd HN Lent book group. Frequently Henri speaks into my experience. It is as if I am hearing myself articulate my previously unspoken thoughts and feelings. And that is every liberating.

  5. I am Melanie living in Los Angeles and am excited to join this reading and discussion group! I am a Worship Leader at our church, have been a Youth Leader of youth groups, and am a Psychotherapist as well. I first heard of Nouwen in my Spiritual Formation class in college.

  6. Marilyn Moonan says:

    I am looking forward to participating in this book discussion. I live in Boston with my husband and 2 dogs. Last month, I retired as a nurse from Boston Children’s Hospital after 30 years of service. I feel fortunate to now have the time to read and reflect. Marilyn

  7. Hello! My name is Ray Klapwyk, and since 2012 I have enjoyed living in Minnesota while teaching an online course named “Foundations of Educational Leadership” for Trinity Western University which is located in Langley, BC Canada. Actually, I began teaching this course in 2002, after retiring from a 35-year career as an educational administrator, mostly at Christian private schools in Canada and the U.S. I’m excited about joining this book discussion because, like Henri Nouwen when he wrote his book “Sabbatical Journey,” I am currently entering a new chapter in my own life. A couple of weeks ago, I informed my university of my decision to retire from teaching. As I enter this new chapter, I anticipate a time of freedom to read books I didn’t have time to read until now, but I also feel a sense of anxious withdrawal. Nouwen’s “In the Name of Jesus” was my favorite course textbook–it was a wonderful discussion starter! Now, after reading the first entries in his Sabbatical Journal, I look forward to sharing with others in this book discussion!

  8. Pamela says:

    I’m Pamela, from southeastern Massachusetts, an Orthodox Christian (convert from the Baptist faith). I’ve been reading Henri’s books for a number of years after being introduced to him by my Orthodox godparents in 2004. I particularly enjoyed The Road to Daybreak when I was trying to make an important job decision. I receive Henry’s daily devotionals by email and decided to participate in this Lenten (though it is not yet Orthodox Lent) discussion largely because of Covid and the isolation it has wrought in my life. I’m looking forward to Henry’s words on his final journey as well as the insights and comments you all share.

    • Pamela says:

      P.S. I am a semi-retired teacher and newspaper reporter, mom, grandmom, seeker, reclusive putterer. I admire so much Henri’s willingness to be transparent and TO BE — to exist, to share, to show himself — with other people. I think that was evident in the preface to this book. At 69, I am reflecting on the experiences of my life and trying to connect what seems disjointed and “chapter-like” into some sort of unified meaning. I also need a spiritual battery charge and look forward to reading the comments shared here.

  9. Bill Spreitzer says:

    Hello all. I’m a first timer of Nouwen’s book club and am excited about taking this spiritual journey with all of you. I live in the Charlotte NC area. I’ve tried to get into Henri’s works as a younger man with little impact. At a ripe old age of 62, Henri’s words and experiences are landing powerfully for me.

  10. Linda Lytvinenko says:

    Hello, I’m Linda, from Holly Springs NC- just outside Raleigh. Have been getting the daily emails for a year or so on the recommendation of a Cursillo friend from our church — St Paul’s Episcopal in Cary NC. I find Henri’s writings so authentic, comforting, and thought-provoking, and have found the beginnings of this book all of the above. I’m looking forward to the special meaning his writings snd this discussion group can bring to my Lenten journey.

  11. Patricia A Kaiser says:

    Thank you so much for this spiritual reading and discussion opportunity. I live in Northern Virginia. Being home and not attending Mass, I have sought other ways of being connected to others. This group may be one of those valued connections. Years ago I read Wounded Healer, and have read several other Nouwen’s books. My parish book club recently read Return of the Prodigal Son. Years ago, I read Genesee Diary, and visited the Abbey on a cross-country road trip in 1976 to the Eucharistic Congress. His work with the disabled community of L’Arche drew me closer to his writing, since for years, I was employed with developmentally disabled adults and children. Now, it seems fitting to read, with others, the final writings of this man who has inspired so many with his great love and compassion.

  12. Patti Harrold-Runge says:

    I’m Patti from Santa Rosa,CA and was introduced to Henri’s writing when my brother gave me Here and Now in 1999. His words speak to and challenge me. I am recently retired from work as a RN after 45 years. I too chose this as a part of my lenten practice and to delve deeper into Henri’s writing.

  13. Barry Sullivan says:

    Last night I woke up in the middle of the night with a migraine. After taking my medication, I have to stay up a bit and walk around to help make it work! Anyway, while doing all of this I put in my AirPods and listened to this YouTube lecture:
    “Henri Nouwen: A Saint for the Complex.” Video presentation by Father Ronald Rolheiser
    Keynote Speaker: Ron Rolheiser, June 11, 2016 “Way of the Heart International Conference” Hosted by Henri Nouwen Society & University of Toronto Mississauga

    I prefaced all of this with the note about my migraine just to warn you that my recommendation here may be affected by my muddled brain at the time. However, it seemed quite good. I hope the link works here and that you might have a similar assessment.

    Oh, I forgot to mention in my earlier introduction that I have benefited from a few other discussions such as this one with Ray as our talented guide

  14. Elaine M says:

    As a long-time veteran of these book discussions, I am excited to see so many familiar names as well as first-time participants. If you are new to the Henri Nouwen book discussions, I can assure you that the discussions will not disappoint. Ray is a great facilitator, and I learn so much every time from the wisdom, inspiration, and practical experiences of the earnest seekers who gather here. I am excited to see such rich diversity: seekers of many backgrounds, people who have served others as teachers, pastors, lay ministers, volunteers in social justice endeavors, doctors, nurses, therapists, ecologists, caregivers, parents, and grandparents.How exciting that some of you have had personal experiences with Daybreak or with Henri himself. This year, more than ever, we share the unique common bond of life in the time of pandemic with extraordinary challenges to our ability to connect socially, do our usual work, stay safe, and retain our hope and resilience. What a blessing to have this opportunity to process our thoughts and feelings in this safe space and find consolation and strength in Henri’s messages for us.

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Thanks Elaine. I would like to echo Elaine’s comment to say how much I learn “every time from the wisdom, inspiration, and practical experiences of the earnest seekers who gather here.” It is an honor and a privilege to journey with each of you. I look forward to our discussion starting on Sunday.

  15. Carrie says:

    Hello Everyone! I currently live in the southwest of France with my husband and 2-year old son. We moved here about 4 months ago from upstate New York. I left my career as an ESL teacher working with immigrant communities as well as my work in ministry to youth at a local church to move to my husband’s hometown so that he could have a chance to be close to his family. Several days after leaving the states my father fell severely ill. He was hospitalized in the ICU for over a month before passing away in December and it was a very challenging but also spiritually transforming time for me. My father had always been my spiritual mentor and I had taken a class he led on Henri Nouwen’s book on the Prodigal Son several years ago and it had been very meaningful to me. Before I left for France my father gave me his Kindle, he knew I wouldn’t have access to many books in English while I was abroad and wanted me to have it. This gift turned out to be life-giving. I felt I was able to stay connected to him through his illness and death through reading the books that he had downloaded and read himself. The first book I began reading while he was hospitalized was Henri Nouwen’s I am the Beloved and that followed by Nouwen’s book on Discernment. I signed up for the daily meditations and am now led to this discussion group. I’m looking forward to reading the thoughts and insights of the many remarkable people in this group, each with their own stories and histories. I am looking to listen and learn, grow and transform. The line from the forward that spoke to me was “I know I am not completely free because the fear is still there”. I working in my faith journey on being fearless or at least recognizing fear when it is there and working through it so that it does not control me. Thank you all 🙂

  16. Mark S. says:

    Hello! I’m Mark, a Baptist pastor from East Central Ohio. I was introduced to Henri in seminary when we were assigned to read “Wounded Healer.” I’ve been a fan and recipient of many blessings from reading his works over the years. I’m looking forward to reading Sabbatical Journey for the first time, and to the discussion.

  17. Meg R says:

    A former clergyman often referenced Henri Nouwen in his sermons which motivated me to begin reading his books. Eventually, I signed up for daily email meditations. Our adult education book groups have read and discussed of number of his books. Sabbatical Journey is a new book to me. I look forward to learning about Henri’s last year of life.
    Other daily meditation sites that feed my spirit are SSJE (Society of Saint John the Evangelist), Center for Action and Contemplation (Richard Rohr Meditations), Ann Voskamp, and Rev. Steven Charleston.
    I live in South Central Kansas.

  18. Barry Sullivan says:

    Hello everyone. I live with my wife in Roseville, Minnesota, which is near Minneapolis and St Paul. We are both retired but I still do some part-time teaching at a local college. We have one daughter and her family, including two grandkids, living about 5 miles from our home. We have another daughter and her family, including two more grandkids, living in Texas—they do have power at the moment!

    I have been a Henri Nouwen fan for many years, prompted by a Baptist history professor who advised me to start reading his books. I think he may have been his favorite spiritual author, and he read a lot! At last count, I believe I have read about 20 of Henri Nouwen’s books, some more than once. I still have another 19 to go. Somewhere I saw that he published 39 books, not counting many articles, but correct me if I am wrong. I had not read Sabbatical Journey, but once I started it I had a hard time putting it down. Reading what turned out to be his final thoughts is a great opportunity and in so many spots quite moving.

    I look forward to sharing our thoughts on these last insights from a great teacher and, dare I say, trusted friend.


    • LA says:

      Many people have and are still suffering from subzero temperatures. Thankfully it is warming up today. My ranch was without power except for rolling blackouts of 45 to 30 min and no water for a week until yesterday. Thankfully my son has kept the horses and cattle alive by feeding them daily, breaking ice up in the troughs and tanks so they could have water. It’s been tough but we are ok. Please put those in your prayers that are still hurting.

    • John T Smith says:

      My Son , Daughter-In-Law and two grandchildren live in the suburbs of Austin. They had a few bad days but appear to have emerged unscathed.

  19. Sharon K. Hall says:

    Hello. My name is Sharon and my husband and I live in a suburb close to the City of Detroit, MI. My first time reading Henri Nouwen was with “the Wounded Healer” in a Stephens Ministry training program. The book is profound and was the most helpful part of the training, together with the peer supervision. I have accompanied seniors for many years and now myself am a senior and trying to learn to design and sew for disabled and wheelchair bound residents of nursing home/assisted living/homebound facilities. I identify so much with Henri Nouwen’s writings and struggles and the sentence from the forward that speaks to me as I face all my procrastinations and such of learning to obtain new skills so as to serve people is “He was fearful but unashamed, searching with the wisdom of his years for new freedom beyond adolescence and beyond human limitations, and for deeper communion with people and with the unseen God in whom he trusted and with whom he communed on a daily basis.” All of these Henri Nouwen book reading Lenten and Advent groups have been so inspirational and help me grow spiritually. I am thankful that they are available!!!!!

  20. Sally Lally says:

    Hi, I’m from Derbyshire in England. I am retired from support work at the local university. The pandemic has thrown up challenges and we are learning to connect with family and friends in different ways. This is the first time joining a book discussion for me. The image of the trapeze artists of the flyer and the catcher stood out for me. Also Henri’s thoughts around “moving into new places”. God bless

  21. LA says:

    Hi to all I am LA from Texas. As of now I’m busy running my husband’s ranch that I hope to sell soon. My husband died 3 years ago and living alone has been tough during this terrible pandemic. The community I feel with all of you is so comforting to me. Looking forward to my second time to join the book discussion.
    I discovered Henri in the 70s when I read REACHING OUT and continued to read most of his books. I love that he was so honest and vulnerable in his writing.

    The words that stood out to me in the foreword were “the flyer must never catch the catcher….he must wait in absolute trust”, “I know I am not completely free because the fear is still there”and “What does it mean to fulfill my vocation?”
    I’m glad that many changes were not edited out so we can learn more about the great depth of the fragile Henri Nouwen. We are all on the same journey and I hope to learn much from your words and insights on my journey to finding everlasting joy.”

  22. Marybeth says:

    Hello to everyone,
    My name is MaryBeth Duffy and I’m a nurse who lives just south of Pittsburgh, PA. Working in a large hospital for 35 years, I can say that this past year has been like no other, and it has been my faith that has given me strength and hope. I started reading the Henri Nouwen meditations last year too, after a good friend introduced me to them. They truly are filled with love and inspiration. I joined in on the Advent book discussion which I really enjoyed, as it added such a personal way to grow with others on this spiritual journey we are all a part of. Fr.Henri’s words and the reflections of the group were so open, supportive, and helpful in confirming to me a deeper sense of God’s Presence in our world (and in us). So I’m looking forward to sharing this time during Lent, with a wonderful faith community, inspired by a holy man…

  23. Michelle E. says:

    Hello there, a day late, but excited to be here for my second book discussion, having participated in the Return of the Prodigal Son in the summer of 2020. Such a gift as a way to be in-filled during a strange COVID summer! I live in Phoenix, Arizona, where I teach theology at an all-girls Catholic high school. Journeying with Henri feeds my soul and spirit, as will dialoguing with all of you. I was struck by the line in the Foreword: “Henri, in his journal and in his life, is first and foremost priest and pastor.” I tend to forget that Henri was a priest, and I look forward to seeing him more closely through that lens, particularly as he daily celebrates the Eucharist. Perhaps I, too, though a laywoman, will find a deeper appreciation and renewed thanksgiving for the Eucharist (as I most certainly have in the past several months not being able to receive it) as I discover its primary place in Henri’s life.

  24. Cheryl says:

    Good Afternoon All,
    My name is Cheryl and I live on the east coast of the United States. I am currently employed in ministry in my parish- my partner in minister and I wear many hats. To name a few, we visit the sick, the home bound and those that live in care facilities, being a friendly visitor and bringing them the Eucharist as well. We have the privilege of assisting families with funeral rite preparation when they have lost a loved one.
    Like Steve, Henri’s writings have been a part of my life for so long that I don’t remember the first time I became acquainted with his work. This is my first time joining in on a book discussion, but I do receive the daily meditations and often send them on to others.
    My hope is to grow in community with other lovers of Henri’s work. Like some of you have stated, I too, identify with Henri’s longing to be loved, his wounds, his desire for community.
    I look forward to spending this Lent like no other, together, and to learn from you.
    Wishing all of you a blessed, grace filled Lent!

  25. Sherman Bishop says:

    I’m a day late in introducing myself. I live in Cleveland, OH and recently retired from ministry, most of that spent here in Northeast Ohio. I first was introduced to Henri’s writings when I was a first year seminary student. The pastor of the congregation in which I did contextual work invited those of us assigned to his congregation to read “The Wounded Healer”. I’ve read many of Henri’s writings since. This will be my first time participating in a discussion group. and I’m looking forward to hearing your insights on his thoughts.

  26. Rita J says:

    I live outside Chicago and am looking to make this Lent a time of spiritual growth. I read a number of Henri Nouwen’s books years ago as I was learning to navigate life following a divorce. I am newly retired and married and working through emotions sparked by the isolation from children, grandchildren, and aging parents that comes with COVID. I am hoping to find companionship in Henri’s writing. The image of the ‘catcher’ and the ‘flyer’ in the Foreword is so vivid it brings tears to my eyes. I, too, yearn for the trust to hand my life over to the “Eternal Catcher.” I am looking forward to participating in this study together with others.

    • Sharon says:

      Rita, I too am touched by the “catcher” and the “flyer” image. Letting go and allowing myself to fall into the hands of Jesus is an ongoing process for me. Being one who likes to control everything relating to “me,” this doesn’t come naturally. I am hopefully of learning from the book and especially from the conversations among us

  27. Diane says:

    Hello from Breckenridge in the Colorado mountains. I discovered Henri’s works several years ago along my contemplative journey and I find myself frequently returning to his words of wisdom and love. I felt especially close to Henri in spirit when I read “With Open Hands” at the bedside of my dying father a few years back. I retired from the practice of medicine 2 years ago and feel I am still settling into this new phase of life which has indeed been a blessing. Henri’s introductory remarks about approaching his sabbatical with anticipation and anxiety are similar to what I felt entering retirement, so I look forward to learning more from him and from all of you who share this Lenten journey.

  28. barbara dusterberg says:

    I am looking forward to this opportunity to have a fruitful lent.

  29. Chris Walton says:


    I have long been inspired by Henri’s candid, insightful reflections on life, faith and community. Nouwen’s mediations on love and friendship in particular have encouraged me to both see myself as the beloved and to risk reaching out to share that love in practical ways with others.

    My wife, Paula, and I are joining in from Vancouver, BC.

  30. Patrick Perching Eagle Watters here from Sacramento, CA, USA. Also known as “anonemoose monk” by many. Irish Lakota ecotheologist and former park ranger and ecologist. Husband, father, grandfather, storyteller, mentor and friend. #woundedhealer #heyoka #enChristo

  31. Maria says:

    My name is Maria. I live in Toronto, Canada. I joined daily meditation a few months ago and I developed hunger for more. This is my first online book reading and discussion experience and I am looking forward to learn and share our spiritual journey.
    God bless

  32. Hi, Beverly here from Louisville, KY (home is Boston, MA). I identify vocationally with Henri, as a retired pastor, now employed psychotherapist and Spiritual Director.

    I had heard of Henri but tasted his uniqueness as a seminarian. When I began pastoral ministry his book “The Living Reminder” was my mentor. From that point on, I began to read almost everything he wrote. I am also a Notice Oblate. At my oblation I take on the name of a Saint. Henri Nouwen is my patron Saint for sure.

    Reading the “Foreward” was fragrant with familiarity about Henri. Sr Sue brought me deeper into knowing his heart. I was drawn into the repetitive “small” gatherings (vs big events) Henri was attracted to. Secondly, his comments of not cutting off from his father, but staying connected caught my attention. For Henri to to say (re his relationship to his father) that as they both aged he saw they “had the same character” breathtaking. Finally, hearing him say that all he had to help others on their journey was “to share my own,” struck a deep cord in my own vocation.

    I am so glad to be among you all learning together in this global but “small” and intimate community. I look forward to learning from and listening to your sharing as we walk together with this great soul, Henri Nouwen. (FYI I am reading a kindle version so can’t footnote pages for quotes).

  33. Shelfie Tjong says:

    Hello, I am Shelfie Tjong. I live in Indonesia. This is my first time join Henry Nouwen’s Discussion book. I love to read Henry’s book. I’ve got email meditation every day and knew this event from there. I am single, 48 years. I work as a counselor and also in Discipleship ministry. I am in my Sabbatical till March 2021. So I hope I can learn from the book “Sabbatical Journey” of Henry, also from the other members in this discussion group from around the world. I hope to know God more deeply and intimately through this discussion experience. Something interests me In Sr. Sue’s words, “May the gift of Henri’s word and example shepherd us and lead us to find each other in friendship.” I want to know Henry’s more especially how he could face his loneliness as a single through friendship with God and others.

  34. Martha Andrade-Dousdebes says:

    My name is Martha Andrade-Dousdebes and I am in Lawrenceville NJ. I became acquainted with one of the first books of Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer, but it was not until later on that i found in his books the source of consolation, affirmation, and teachings. In the times of his desolation I found comfort and encouragement. The Inner Voice of Love became my daily guidance, it led me through the road of hope to the promise land of God’s love and healing. I am looking forward to the daily meditations with excitement and to the Lent reflections of this year as well. Thank you so much for organizing this great program.

  35. Jim Willis says:

    I am from Barrie, Ontario.
    First time for doing a book discussion here.
    I have read bits and pieces of Henri’s writing.
    In 2020 I used the daily devotional book along with the daily email.

  36. Deborah M says:

    Hello, I am live near Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay Maryland, US. Married 36 years and homeschooling our 7 children going on 29 years. I am the sandwich generation, homeschooling the youngest still at home while also starting to spend more time and care with healthy but aging parents. I volunteer for a fantastic organization and last year, as part of our Spiritual growth, I was introduced to Henri Nouwen’s writing. I have been thoroughly enjoying the daily emails since.

  37. Steve Bolie says:

    I live in Clive, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines. I am a retired accountant and non-profit executive director. My days are put to good use, presently preparing four Sunday School lessons and pursuing my wannabe artist wish. I have been blessed by Henri Nouwen’s books long enough that I don’t remember how I became connected with them. My favorites are his diary books. This is a first experience with a book discussion, online or otherwise. I’m looking forward to being part of the conversation.

  38. Sandra Dickau says:

    Blessings on this Ash Wednesday. I am a Director in a hospital in Toronto. My program oversees the sickest Covid patients in critical care, respiratory and internal Medicine. I am expectant over the Lenten season to encountering Christ in new ways as we all interact.
    I came to Henri’s writings after meeting him in Edmonton where he spoke. He was mesmerizing in word and in his physical being. I have read most of Henri’s books and have made my way to Up State New York to the Abbey of the Genesee for rest and reflection retreats.
    Having read all your entries I feel a sense of community and I look forward to this Lenten journey with all of you.
    I am weary living and working through the pandemic and the road to Easter could not come at a better time.
    Lastly thank you to Karen and Sue, Gabrielle and so many others for keeping Henri’s gift to us alive.

    • Sandra,

      I appreciated your post for muliple reasons. First, thank you for working on the front lines in solidarity with those suffering during this surreal time. Second, my roomate from college days lives in Edmonton and I never knew Henri had been there. More, I love what you said about Lent: “I am expectant over the Lenten season to encountering Christ in new ways as we all interact.” And, “Having read all your entries I feel a sense of community and I look forward to this Lenten journey with all of you.”

      To tell you the truth, I was resistent to Lent (church) upon lent (Covid). I felt like I’d given up enough. But your words inspire me to expect Christ in new ways as I walk with you all. Thank you Sandra, for your encouraging spirit.


      • Sandra Dickau says:

        Hello Beverly
        Thank-you for your kind words. This really has been a surreal time for all of us. I desperately miss my faith community experiences. I belong to a United Church in Toronto and am sad at times that we cannot be together in person. I also have lead over the years a women’s discussion group – we read a book in about 8 months- yes only one book and we delve in and DEEP. We have used Henri’s books some years- I am missing that.
        I too Beverly have resisted lent and other spiritual practices/journeys etc. that keep me whole. I am not sure why exactly but I have an inkling that walking through , embracing the ‘poop’ and acknowledging that which we are experiencing helps us to move to a different place in our beings. Henri so often talks about these movements- example: resentment to gratitude. However to get to a place of gratitude you have to walk through that hard dark tunnel. Which takes me to the entry in Sabbatical journey that I will talk about in week 1 that I keep going back to.
        I am keen to dialogue with you and others through lent and am expectant and open.
        Thank-you Beverley for writing to me- it was very encouraging in more ways than you know.


    • Gabrielle Earnshaw says:

      Thank you Sandra! I hope you are restored a bit by this Lenten journey with Henri (and Ray).


  39. Barbara Mark says:

    Good evening. My name is Barbara and I live in a Coastal Valley in Central California.

    My days are dedicated to whatever needs to be done for body and soul for my husband, for friends, and myself as time and energy allows. My husband and I are up in years with some physical limitations so everything takes much longer than it used to take. My desire is to dedicate more time each day to people in need and to developing a deeper spiritual life.

    Years ago a friend introduced me to Henri Nouwen, but because of who the friend was I resisted reading his books. In the past 20 years I have read all I can on-line and subscribe to the daily meditations. He makes God so accessible. Have never participated in a discussion of his work.

    During this discussion I hope to get to know Henri Nouwen better, look forward to other participants input, and deepen my spiritual relationships.

    There were many things that struck a note with me in the forward, One of which strikes my heart at this moment in time…being restricted by living up to his reputation and asking if he has to be consistent with that way of living or asking for the courage to live out new directions the Divine may have for him. Good question. Difficult struggle.

  40. Rick says:

    Hello everyone. My name is Rick and I live in the Midwest United States and work as a medical support assistant at a veterans hospital. This is my first time doing something like this but a friend of mine from my church invited me to this. I’ve also never officially observed Lent or read one of Henri Nouwen’s books so please feel free to comment and help guide me if you would. God bless all of you and I look forward to getting to know some of you and learning more about Lent and more of what it means to be a Christ follower.

  41. Cay says:

    Good afternoon all. I live in the high mountains of New Mexico. I am a health care practitioner in a nursing home. I was first introduced to Henri Nouwen in a bible study group at my church in 2011 when I was struggling with my husband’s cancer diagnosis. The first Nouwen book I read was ‘God’s Beloved’ and then ‘Making All Things New’. Since then, I have been a subscriber to the daily meditation and I have read many of his other books. I have been a silent observer in many of the book discussions. For me, Henri Nouwen so eloquently puts into words the joys and pains of the heart and spirit. What struck me in the Forward was his mention of being fatigued. I can identify with that. This pandemic year has been physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually fatiguing for me. I have not been in my Episcopal Church for over a year. I have been estranged from my brother who is a pandemic naysayer. I have not seen my aged mother in a year and three months. I am suffocated by the PPE I must wear all day at work. I know there are many of us in the same situation. With this discussion, I hope to lift the weight somewhat and gain some respite from my melancholy. I am so ever grateful for Henri Nouwen’s words which bring me peace and hope. I look forward to the discussions!

    • Richard Garrett says:

      Hi Cay. I just wanted to say thank you for your service in caring for the elderly in this difficult time. I too work in the health care field as a medical support assistant in a large hospital in the United States and I can completely relate to the fatigue and exhaustion you’re feeling. This is my first time participating in something like this so I really don’t know what I’m doing:) Sabbatical Journey will be the first book I’ve read by Henri Nouwen but I’m sure I’m in for a treat. Anyway nice to meet you (kinda) and godspeed to you.

  42. Rev. Dr. Bob Brown says:

    Good Afternoon: Getting darker and colder in northern Michigan as daylight turns to dusk. But this study will warm my soul now and in these days of Lent. Looking forward to being intellectually enlightened and spiritually uplifted by Henri’s book and your sharinga

  43. Connie says:

    My name is Connie and I live in Mukilteo Washington north of Seattle. I’ve spent the last year on leave in order to protect my 83 year old mother from Covid. It’s been my own sabbatical of sorts only without the comfort of knowing when it would begin or how it will end. I first came to Henri Nouwen through Compassion years ago and more recently read the Prodigal Son with a book club. I am making Sabbatical Journey my Lenten Journey and am happy to join this group in doing so. I was struck by the fatigue Henry felt on his Sabbatical and wonder how things might have been different had he sought medical attention.

  44. Jamie Mehaffey says:

    I live in Woodstock, Georgia. I have the privilege of teaching 6th grade for a hybrid school AND getting to homeschool my 2nd grade son and kindergarten daughter.

    I have read many of Henri Nouwen’s books through the years and am particularly drawn to his ability to verbalize so much of the dichotomy of the Christian Life…both wanting to rest in the fact that I am God’s beloved and my desire to be seen by and connect with others. His words are a comfort to me in what can often feel mundane and lonely in raising children intentionally and in continuing to make decisions that God is calling me to that go against culture and status quo.

    This Lent I hope to be able to settle more into his distinct voice and calling for me and to do so as an outpouring of relationship with him rather than rules I’ve created for myself.

  45. Neil Fraser says:

    Hi all. I live in San Diego, CA. Retired from math and computer programming. Starting three years ago I have been publishing devotional contemplative worshipful poetry books. I am also doing part time home care for a 95 year old man.

    It is awesome reading all the introductions made so far. I appreciate connecting with a group centered on an author I resonate with. I was encouraged to read Henri’s book “The Way Of The Heart”. I couldn’t stop with reading it once. I throughly enjoy the daily emailed meditations. And am looking forward to stimulating cross pollinating discussions in this group. And learning a lot more about Henri Nouwen from the majority here who know him a lot better then I do.

  46. Gina says:

    I am Gina. I read “Can You Drink the Cup?” as I was sitting for many long hours by my injured daughter’s bedside after her auto accident that resulted in a severe traumatic brain injury. God used Henri to speak to the deepest needs of my heart at that time.

  47. Rev grace l shirk says:

    Hello. I am a retired pastor and “met ”Henri at Stony Point N Y. I was a clown minister and found his book Clowning in Rome. I was captive from that time I have all his books and am anticipating the study of Sabbatical Journey. I lead Bible studies and preach on occasion. God bless us one and all

  48. Sharon says:

    I am a retired registered nurse who thoroughly enjoys family and friends. My 6 grandchildren and 2 greats have helped keep me sane and laughing during this year of isolation with the pandemic. I am looking forward to this my first online book study and am happy to read another Nouwen book. I discovered his writing in the 70’s with the reading of “Reaching Out.” I quickly fell in love with his style of writing in which he seemed to verbalized so much of what I thought and felt but could not express. Along with this study, I am adding the discipline of journaling during this Lenten season with the expectation that I will grow in my own spirit as I intentionally look for and recognize God in the ordinary happenings of my daily life.

  49. Lainie Snider says:

    I live in Bentonville, Arkansas
    I was introduced to Henri during my spiritual director formation classes many years ago Since then I have read many of his books. I receive his daily meditations and always feel a connection to them. I also listen to the Here and Now podcasts and always look forward to them.
    I love his vulnerability and that inspires me to be vulnerable and to encourage my directees also. I am very excited to be reading this book with all of you and look forward to your comments.

  50. micheline lizotte says:

    Hello, my name is Micheline Lizotte and I’m from New Hampshire, USA -the only one from the Northeast so far. All the comments show that Henri has a great following which is impressive. I didn’t know about this blog until a friend suggested we try it. I did participate at my parish in a book discussion on the Prodigal Son which was fantastic and very helpful, and at a private book club we enjoyed Life of the Beloved. I look forward to discovering what Henri had to say in his Sabbatical Journey, what the Lord revealed to him. He amazes me, what a thinker.
    I’m disappointed that this discussion is not a Zoom face to face.
    Thank you for offering it.

  51. Beth Ann says:

    Peace to all of you. Nouwen has been a long-time favorite. As the themes surrounding rest seem to be pursuing me as of late, this seems to be something on which to focus this Lenten season. I hope to develop a class for university students surrounding the works of Nouwen, so expanding my repertoire as well as perspectives from all of you is my hope as well.

  52. Patricia Hesse says:

    I am an educator in northeast Arkansas. I have participated in several Nouwen book discussions. I always look forward to reading the insights of others –which is a good thing, especially now. Although I ordered my book well over a month ago, it still hasn’t arrived! I will read your posts as I wait.

  53. Mary Piccolo says:

    Greetings to all. I had the good fortune to meet and study with Henri at Boston College. It was the summer he left Harvard and had his sights set on L’arche. One day I was sitting in the cafeteria just starting my lunch when Henri approached to ask if he could join me. When I registered for the course I had no idea who he was or what to expect from a class on “The Spirituality of John’s Gospel. I did know I was seeking the Light and that a closer relationship with God might just be the healing that I needed. So it was over a tuna sandwich and a Diet Coke that I came to meet my spiritual guide Henri Nouwen. I was soon to enroll in what was then known as IREPM. What a great place to begin… every class was SRO and I felt that Light for 2 weeks that changed the course of my life. Ever grateful for my experience and for the gift of sharing Henri with many over the years. Franklin, MA

  54. Janet Edwards says:

    I am a retired teacher and am enjoying being Grammy to my young grandchildren nearby.
    I have been spiritually enriched through reading Nouwen’s works throughout the years, but never read Sabbatical Journey. I hope to also keep a spiritual journal during Lent.
    I read the daily mediations and have participated in the book a couple of times before.

    I am originally from St. Louis, MO but have lived near Asheville NC my entire adult life.

  55. Alice Hein says:

    Good Morning All. I live in St Louis County Missouri, and have been searching for a practice for Lent. In my church newsletter a link was included for the Henri Nouwen Society and since I knew of his work and have read a couple of his books, I clicked the link, signed up for daily meditations. As a sacrifice for this Lent I choose to leave playing solitaire type games on my computer after two hours of play. It is interesting how much of my habit of sitting down on the couch, picking up the computer and clicking on my game tab is so automatic!! So this last sit down, when I picked up the computer I knew I wasn’t going to play, I decided to read the meditations offered. Lo and behold, as my grandmother would say, there is information on a Lenten book study!! AND, I happen to have the book on my bookshelf! A sign for sure.
    I haven’t done an online book study but I have done other work online.
    I am a retired School Counselor, who now substitutes part-time and teaches Mindfulness Meditation to students and adults.
    I look forward to our time together.

  56. Angela Steidley says:

    Hello. I am Angela Steidley. My husband and I are retired and live in Broken Arrow OK. I have read several of Henri’s books, the first of which was The Genesee Diary (and I immediately became convinced that here was a writer I wanted to know more of). I have never been part of one of these book discussions but I look forward to this one. I work part-time as a financial coach but it has been virtual during the pandemic. I miss face-to-face (masked) contact with people. I look forward to meeting the people in this book discussion, even though we are still “virtual”.

  57. Nicola Santamaria says:

    I live in Hertfordshire, UK with my husband and we are both retired. I have not been part of one of these online discussion groups before. I have read many of Henri’s books, including this one. In 2012 I was privileged to visit Daybreak in Toronto and I was there on the anniversary of Henri’s death. A Ukrainian Bishop was staying there at the same time and he hired a car and drove me and his fellow priest out to the cemetery to visit Henri’s grave. It was a very special time.
    There are three themes that struck me in the Foreword. First is how much I long to have a priest like Henri as my guide. It feels as if the Church is very short of good shepherds.
    Secondly there is the image of the flyer and the catcher and that rouses in me the desire to trust God more. I am not yet at the stage where I can leap in faith and allow God to catch me, although I wish I were.
    The third theme that runs through this book is death. Coronavirus has made the past 12 months a year of deaths and I have also lost friends from other diseases. Sabbatical Journey will, I hope, give me some guidance on how to come to terms with death, both that of those I love and my own.

  58. Nancy Hartsock says:

    Good morning! This is my first book study/discussion here…I am recently retired (June 2020) and we have moved to the Jersey shore. We are greatly enjoying being close to the water and discovering beautiful places to watch the sun set, but it is a very strange time too not being able to gather in person with others, get to know them, and build community. I have read Henri Nouwen for years, most recently his book Discernment. When I think of him I think of hard-earned wisdom, and his term “wounded healer” — a descriptor I can readily identify with. As my husband I begin the last chapters of our life story, it feel apropos to read Henri’s thoughts as he approached the end of his life story…and the fact that today is the beginning of Lent means I will be invited to “go deep” with Henri in self-reflection and conversation with my husband as well. I am grateful.

  59. Deborah Hubenthal says:

    My name is Deborah Hubenthal. I reside on the coast of Washington, 60 miles from the Canadian border. This is my second time in joining this group. Nouwen has been an everpresent part of my spiritual life for many years. Excited to be with all of you.

  60. Mandy Callf says:

    Hello Everyone,
    My name is Mandy, now mostly retired, living in East Sussex, UK. This is the first time I have joined in a discussion like this and I am looking forward to the richness of the exchange of thoughts. Connection and interaction with people seems to have been an important facet of Henri’s life.
    I have read quite a few of his books over the years; he is my go to author when I need solace and encouragement. and I am refreshed by receiving the daily meditation.
    I am currently moving to a new home; it marks a new chapter in this later stage of life and this lent programme seemed just the right focus to assist this transition.

  61. Jackie Warren says:

    Good Morning! My name is Jackie Warren and I live on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada and am a Priest in the Anglican Church. My first encounter with Henri’s writings came years ago when I had my first meeting with our Bishop at that time. Within an hour I was enrolled as an M. Div student, assigned to a hospital to begin studies in Pastoral Care where I was given a copy of The Wounded Healer. Since that day I have been working to collect all of his books and thus far have 21 on my bookshelf. I have led many book studies and Quiet Days using his work and in turn have inspired others to read more of his writings. I am looking forward to being part of this group, delving into this book and seeing what new kernels of insight and knowledge I might gain that I can use personally and share with others.

  62. Deb C says:

    Good morning, my name is Deb and I live in rural eastern North Carolina. I ebb and flow out of “church” but maintain my faith and have loved reading and studying Henri since I was first introduced to him. 30 some years ago a neglected, underweight young man came into my classroom. Long story short, my “couple months of foster care” while we got his mama up to speed has been a little over 30 years now. I identify so much with Henri because Stan is profoundly disabled, non ambulatory, non verbal, total care, but the lessons he provides are a joy. Blessings to all those participating….stay safe and healthy in these chaotic times!

  63. Sandy Yates says:

    I am a retired RN from Rhode Island and I came to know Henri through my work with the Ignation Volunteer Corps and my subsequent immersion in Ignation spirituality. I have read much of Henri’s work, but not this book. During the Pandemic I have remained isolated in place with my husband of 39 years. I grocery shop and that’s about the only time I leave the house. I spend my days reading, communicating with my two daughters and their families via FaceTime,and spending lots of time with our Lord. I am looking forward to walk with Henri during his final year, and gain new insight into the Lenten season.

  64. Eddie Dunn says:

    This is my second time to participate in one of these book discussions, but I have for some time looked forward to the daily excerpts I receive “from Henri” by email, also having read several of his books. This lent has special meaning and hopefulness for me as we mourn the tragic death of my 16-year-old grandson who was more like a son to me than a grandchild. I live in Northville, Michigan having now been retired from state employment for 22 years. This was my second career my first having been a minister assigned by choice to Finland where I spent 10 years being far more spiritually impacted by the Finns and by the Holy Spirit’s work to free me from legalism and denominational chains to experience grace!

    • Nicola Santamaria says:

      I am so sorry for your loss, Eddie. I pray that the Holy Spirit will comfort you and your family in the time of sorrow. Henri’s book has something to say about death, and so I hope it will help you as you read his words of wisdom.

  65. Kimber Zappia says:

    I am new to this group and discussion. I was introduced to Henri by my cousin who posted from this site the daily reflections and have been praying with them for about a year. I live near Charlotte, NC, USA. The challenges of this past year have left me lost, sad and insecure. I have lost my marriage and my mother. I was unable to go on any of my trips to Haiti because of the virus. I work in healthcare, though not at the bedside. I am looking for God’s light.

  66. Caroline Hill says:

    Good Morning. I live in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. I have been married for 55 years and retired for a number of years. I now enjoy time with our children and six grandchildren. I have been looking forward to participating in another blog with Henri and friends this Lent. As I reflect on this past year and the pandemic I’m amazed at how our world and all of us have needed to change our ways of living. There are so many things we’ve needed to give up for now in order to protect our neighbours. It has though given us much to contemplate on plus called us more and more to rest in the arms of Jesus.

  67. Charmaine says:

    Great to read one of Nouwen’s books again. Looking forward to gain insights from his pen. Through this pandemic I was continually grappling with, what legacy am I leaving behind?, with death of loved ones having been so prevalent these few months. With social distancing, how will we build friendships? By wearing masks how do we hold the space for the eyes who reflect the hurt? I trust these questions will reflect as we discuss. I’m from sunny Cape Town South Africa, retired from ministry with husband and a continuous seeker to know God more!

  68. Michael G says:

    Hello. This is my first time joining a discussion. I live in Dorset,UK,in a cohousing community( the website is written below) and normally would now be in a Benedictine Ashram in South India for 3months. An ashram open to all seekers of God, in whatever spiritual tradition that is expressed. . I first came across The Return of the Prodigal Son the library there.. I was much moved by the book. I have spent many years trying to accept the fact that as a gay man God reallyloves me as I am ( sadly in contrast to much of the established Church teachings!). I have resonated with much of Noewen’s sense of woundedness I look forward to our journeying together

  69. Phil Smith says:

    Good morning on this very different Ash Wednesday. My name is Phil Smith and I live in Derbyshire, in the Midlands of the UK. I am a husband to a great wife, a father of three grown up children and have worked in schools for over thirty years. This year I am looking to take early retirement – a new path in my journey. I’ve been fortunate to read, often through this group, many of Henri Nouwen’s texts. I am looking for this Lenten journey to be a starting point into my new life that I am sure will be full of richness.
    I was drawn to the passage, in the foreword (p. xi), where the hope that Henri Nouwen would write his “circus book” was mentioned; that he was not yet in the place where he could write it as it, “requires a radical new step not only in my writing but also in my life”. My own story is at one of these points and the phrase penned by Sue Mosteller here is certainly apposite to this, “This relationship spoke to the inner aspirations of Henri’s heart and his yearning to fly in the spiritual life, but only in relationship with and yielding more and more into the loving hands of the Eternal Catcher”. I hope, both through Lent and my new life to yield more fully into these hands.
    I look forward to reading the many comments in this group that uplift and unveil ideas I had not seen in my reading of this text.
    Many blessings to all and wishing you all a happy and fruitful Lent.
    God bless
    Phil Smith

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