March 14th to 20th: Lent Week 4 – Friendship, Holy Week, and Plans to Return to Daybreak

Reading: March 15 to May 18 entries, pages 127 to 167

This year has been different from my expectations and has been one of the busiest and most involved years I can remember. But still, it’s been a
wonderful year. I did not write as much as I planned, but I wrote
a lot. I did not pray as much as I planned, but my experience
of God has deepened in my writing. I haven’t been as alone
as I hoped, but I’ve had more solitude than before.
(Wednesday, May 15th, p. 166)

We were blessed last week by the personal, touching, and inspired thoughts many of you shared. Several people mentioned they have fallen behind in the reading. Let me assure you, that is not possible in a Henri Nouwen book discussion. I’m confident that the Holy Spirit often guides us to discover what we are supposed to discover at the time we are supposed to discover it. I know that has been the case for me, especially when I read Henri.

During the two months from mid-March to mid-May, Henri is enthused about the book on the Flying Rodleighs; makes progress on the book about Adam; welcomes Nathan, Sue and other friends to Peapack, New Jersey; returns to L’Arche Daybreak to celebrate Holy Week with his community; and then travels seemingly non-stop for a month. Through his sabbatical journal, we gain insights into Henri’s hectic, fulfilling, and, at times, insecure life that we don’t glean from Henri’s other books, as personal as they may be.

When I realized that during last week and this week we are reading Henri’s journal entries twenty five years after they were written on these exact dates (March 7th to March 20th, pages 122 to 131), I was touched and felt a close connection to him. This week, in addition to encouraging you to share whatever touched your heart, I’m going to mention several journal entries and quotations that were especially meaningful to me that may prompt your thoughts.

  • March 15: “When we love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul, we cannot do other than love our neighbor, and our very selves. It is by being fully rooted in the heart of God that we are creatively connected with our neighbor as well as with our deepest self.”
  • March 20: “I feel in gentle harmony with my family, the people in Daybreak, especially Nathan and Sue. . . I easily forget how fragile I am inside, and how little is needed to throw me off balance. A small rejection, a slight criticism might be enough to make me doubt my self-worth and even lose my self-confidence.”
  • March 29: This entry of is significant. Henri wrote about the depression caused by the breakdown of a friendship in the The Return of the Prodigal Son and the Inner Voice of Love without mentioning Nathan by name. Not mentioned here, Sr. Sue Mosteller played a key role in healing the relationship.
  • April 29: “Jackie spoke to me about my homily and especially the way I talked about Murray’s vulnerability. ‘I never have thought about being vulnerable as something positive,’ she said. ‘I should have thought about that earlier.'”
  • May 15: The quote in bold at the top of the post.
  • May 17: “What I most hope is to learn how to write a good story that engages the reader to the very end. . . (Mentions books on Adam and Rodleighs) So my trip to Sante Fe is a little gift that I give myself to push me into a new dimension of storytelling.”

As before, you might consider using the process shown below to guide your reflection.

  1. Select a few journal entries that stand out to you, and read them thoroughly, perhaps several times. In your careful reading and reflection, consider:
    1. The experience, thought, or concept that stands out to you
    2. How does it relates to your personal experience?  Look at your experience with the benefit of Henri’s insight.  Does that help you to see things differently or to know yourself better?
    3. What is God speaking to your heart through Henri’s experience and words? How have you been touched, inspired, challenged, and comforted on your spiritual journey.
    4. How you will respond?  Carefully (prayerfully) consider how your heart responds to the insights you gained. Are there small steps you can take to incorporate these insights and to move toward spiritual freedom in your life?  What changes will you make?
  2. Please share your reflection and insights with the group to the degree you are comfortable.

I’m grateful to everyone that has joined us this Lent–those posting comments and those silently sharing our journey. All are welcome here.

May the Lord give you peace.

Posted in Lent 2021 - Sabbatical Journey | 34 Comments