Feb 10 – Feb 13: Lent 2016 Welcome & Introductions

Reading: None.
Note: The complete reading schedule and instructions on how to submit and reply to comments may be found by clicking on the Reading Schedule link in the black navigation bar, located directly below the photo on the top of this page.


A very warm welcome to each of you. We’re so glad you’ve decided to join us for the Henri Nouwen Society (HNS) book discussion. This Lent we will journey together to read and reflect on one of Henri’s ten most read books In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership. For those of you who are returning, you know how incredible this experience is, and for those who are joining us for the first time you will soon discover its blessings.  

Every time we gather for a book discussion a caring and spirit-filled community emerges as you share your reflections, insights, and responses to the comments of others; as facilitator I’ll do my best to assist you in this creative process. This Lent we will be without the deft touch of Brynn Lawrence, our other regular facilitator. She and husband Francisco are focusing their attention on their first child, baby Leo, who was born just before Christmas. Congratulations! Brynn will be rejoining us in the future.

Long-time participants may recall that we last read In the Name of Jesus for our Lent 2010 discussion. It is based on a talk that Henri gave shortly after becoming the pastor at L’Arche Daybreak, the place that became his true home.  His simple, profound, and timeless message applies to each of us since we are all leaders in our own way.  You will be blessed by your Lenten encounter with this book  whether you are reading it for the first time or returning to savor it again.

Before we jump in, it is always helpful to provide some information on how this online discussion flows.  Each Sunday, beginning on February 14th,  you will discover a new “post,” indicated by the bold title, on the blog’s Home page. This post will have discussion questions based around the week’s readings. 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 or William at the HNS need to “approve” it, so it may take a few hours before it actually appears on the blog page.  As noted above, instructions on how to submit and reply to comments may be found by clicking on the Reading Schedule link  If you have any further questions about how the blog works, please feel free to ask using the comment box or by sending an email to the address below.

After that long introduction, we would love to hear from you!

Over the next few days you are invited to introduce yourself to the group.  You may choose to share:
a) Your general geographic location
b) To whom or what you dedicate your days and energy, and why
c) Whether or not you’ve participated in previous book discussions, or if you are joining us for the first time
d) Any hopes, aspirations, burdens, or special intentions that are with you this Lent

Enough from me.  Now it’s your turn and we look forward to your introduction.

RAY GLENNON: Ray lives in Columbia, Maryland  where actively volunteers in his parish Confirmation and adult faith formation programs  and serves as a member of the pastoral council.  He and his wife Dawn are also members of a Catholic charismatic community.  Ray first became familiar with Henri’s work 30 years ago. He 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.  Ray has joined in these discussions as a participant or facilitator since 2010 and they have  become an important part of his spiritual journey.   If you have any questions for Ray, please contact him at ray.glennon@1972.usna.com and you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/@RayGlennon.

Posted in Lent 2016 | 23 Comments

Lent Book Discussion – 2016

Welcome to the Henri Nouwen Lent Book Discussion!

We are delighted to present In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership as this Lent’s featured book.

With the subtitle Reflections on Christian Leadership, one might think this is a book only for those in church leadership. It’s not. Its content is incredibly relevant to anyone and everyone who is serious about their spiritual walk. It’s a concise, easy-to-read book — but don’t be fooled. Nouwen packs the pages with more meaning and more thought-provoking material than can be found in most books ten times the size.

Returning as our discussion facilitator is Ray Glennon.  Our other regular facilitator Brynn Lawrence is deferring this time around so she and husband Francisco can enjoy being new parents to precious baby Leo! (Congrats Brynn and family!) Rest assured, Brynn will be back with us for future book discussions.

Things get underway from February 10 – 13. Please join us here on the book discussion home page (you might want to bookmark it) beginning on Ash Wednesday to introduce yourself and to meet and greet other participants. If you would like to read ahead, the reading and discussion schedule can be viewed by clicking on the Reading Schedule tab in the black bar beneath the photo at the top of this post.

We are looking forward to a meaningful and spirit-filled discussion. Be sure to tell your friends. Everyone is welcome.

Don’t have a copy of In the Name of Jesus? Order one by clicking here.

Posted in Lent 2016 | 38 Comments

Advent Book Discussion Ends

A big, hearty ‘thank you’ to everyone who participated – whether by commenting or by quietly reading along – in our 2015 Advent book discussion.

Judging by the number of comments, and by the depth and breadth of the content, this has been an amazing and deeply rewarding experience for all. On behalf of everyone at the Henri Nouwen Society, I extend a gracious thank you for coming along for the ride – and the read!

I know I speak for you all as I offer a very special thank you to our discussion facilitators Brynn Lawrence and Ray Glennon. As always, Brynn and Ray provided thoughful insight, gracious sensitivity, and welcoming leadership. Thank you, Brynn and Ray!

As most of you know, our next book discussion is scheduled for Lent – which is only weeks away. We will be announcing the next book selection in the next week or two. Come back to this discussion page, or check our website at henrinouwen.org for the announcement of the Lent Book Discussion title.

On behalf or Ray, Brynn and everyone at HNS, I wish you a wonderful, blessed, and peaceful 2016.

We’re looking forward to having you join us in a few weeks for our next online book discussion!

Blessings & peace,
William

Posted in Summer 2015 Finding My Way Home | Leave a comment

Dec 20th – Dec 26th: Conclusion

Reading: Conclusion ( p 116 to 118)

We are nearing the end of our Advent journey together and we want to express our deep gratitude  to each of you for joining us along the way.  Because of you and the words and spirit of Henri Nouwen, a beautiful community has gathered and grown in faith and understanding–the fruit of your participation in the discussion, both by posting comments and quietly reflecting in your heart.

In our reading this week  Henri looks back on the spiritual imperatives with the perspective of eight years of “radical changes… (moving) through anguish to freedom, through depression to peace, through despair to hope”  and he concludes, “I have heard the inner voice of love, deeper and stronger than ever.”

This week, in what for many are the hectic final days before we celebrate the birth of Jesus,  you are invited to give yourself the gift of time to once again reflect on the spiritual imperatives that touched your heart during our time together.  You might prayerfully consider the following questions:

  1. Were their any connections or common themes in the imperatives that touched your heart?   If so, what were they and why are they important to you now?
  2. Why did these imperative touch you at this particular point in your life?
    a) Was it a result of something happening now?   If so, how does the imperative help your challenge you to grow?  b) Or did you recall a personal experience from an earlier time? If so, can you see how you have grown as a result of that experience?
  3. Have the imperatives that touched your heart helped you to hear the inner voice of love and how will you respond? 

As always, you are invited share your responses and other reflections with the group to the degree you are comfortable.

Once again, we want to thank you for joining us and for enriching our Advent experience and book discussion.  We wish you and yours a blessed and joyous Christmas season.

May the Lord give you peace.

Ray and Brynn

P.S.  And we hope that many of you will join us for our Lenten book discussion beginning in mid-February.  Be on the lookout for more information.

Posted in Advent 2015 | 42 Comments

Dec 13 – 19: Imperatives 50 through 63

Reading: Imperatives on pages 89 to 113 (Imperatives 50 through 63)

This week we are reflecting on fourth set of Henri’s spiritual imperatives. And what a meaningful and insightful journey we have been on together–thanks to everyone that is participating in whatever manner you deem appropriate.

It is worth remembering how these imperatives came to be.  They are  insights Henri gained during a period of  “mentally and spiritually debilitating anguish” that caused him to leave his new home at L’Arche to surrender to his spiritual guides who, over a six month period, were able to lead him to a new freedom resulting in his return home and the recommitment to his ministry and writing.  As Henri explained in the Introduction, “Nearly every day, usually immediately after meeting with my spiritual guides, I wrote a ‘spiritual imperative’–a command to myself that emerged from our session.  These imperatives were directed to my own heart.  They were not meant for anyone but myself.” (p xvi-xvii)  Nor were they meant to tell a story or to be read in any particular order.  We have ordered the readings solely to focus the discussion.

Beginning next Sunday we will take the last few days before Christmas to look back across all four weeks to see if there are any common themes or opportunities for growth that arose for you during our Advent journey.  But that is next week.  This week’s readings provide plenty more to reflect upon.  Remember that you certainly  don’t have to read and reflect on all the imperatives!  As Henri said, “These spiritual imperatives are meant to be like salt for the meal of your life.  Too much salt might spoil it, but a little at a time can make it tasty.”  Considering Henri’s advice, we once again offer this process if it is of help to you:

  1. Briefly look over the 14 imperatives assigned to this week (50 through 63), either by simply reading the title or by lightly skimming the text.
  2. Select a few (perhaps 2 or 3) imperatives that stand out to you, and read them thoroughly, perhaps several times.
  3.  Consider:
    1. The 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? What do the Scriptures say?*
    4. How you will respond?  Carefully (prayerfully) consider how your heart responds to the insights gained during your reflection. Are there small steps you can take to incorporate these insights and to move toward spiritual freedom in your life?  Perhaps you would like to write your own Spiritual Imperative.
    5. Pray!
  4. Please share with the group to the degree you are comfortable

Anticipating another rich week together!

Ray and Brynn

Posted in Advent 2015 | 53 Comments

Dec 06 – 12: Imperatives 33 through 49

Reading: Imperatives on pages 57 to 88 (Imperatives 33 through 49)

You all continue to amaze us and honour the group by journeying with us this Advent.  We want to thank each of you for your participation whether you are following along silently or blessing us with your honest, open and profound sharing.  It is obvious that each and every comment has touched another person in the group – and that includes the comment you shared!  So thank you.

This week’s readings provide plenty more to reflect upon.  Remember that you certainly  don’t have to read and reflect on all the imperatives!  You might select the ones that seem in line with the theme that God has been speaking to you about, or just focus on ones that stand out to you.  Again, we offer this process if it is of help to you:

  1. Briefly look over the 16 imperatives assigned to this week (33 through 48), either by simply reading the title or by lightly skimming the text.
  2. Select a few (perhaps 2 or 3) imperatives that stand out to you, and read them thoroughly, perhaps several times.
  3.  Consider:
    1. The 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? What do the Scriptures say?*
    4. How you will respond?  Carefully (prayerfully) consider how your heart responds to the insights gained during your reflection. Are there small steps you can take to incorporate these insights and to move toward spiritual freedom in your life?  Perhaps you would like to write your own Spiritual Imperative.
    5. Pray!
  4. Please share with the group to the degree you are comfortable

Anticipating another rich week together!

Ray and Brynn

Posted in Advent 2015 | 43 Comments

Nov 29 – Dec 05: Imperatives 17 through 32

Reading: Pages 26 to 55 (Imperatives 17 through 32)

As we enter into week two of our discussion we want to express such gratitude to each of you who are journeying with us, and have shared and/or listened with such grace and honesty.  It is a source of encouragement, just as Henri’s honest sharing is such a source of encouragement.

As we open up a new set of imperatives this week, it is worthwhile to reiterate that these imperatives were written in a very raw time in Henri’s life.  A number of people last week suggested that they expected more from Henri, or were surprised that he didn’t seem more solid in his aspects of his faith.  Remember, as Henri explains in the introduction, he was in a time of “intense purification,” not intending to be leading or teaching anyone else.  You’ll find the powerful and solid insights that came out of this time in Henri’s The Return of the Prodigal Son (pxviii).    What is so powerful about this text, and what we can so clearly learn from, is his desire to draw closer to the heart of God even during the most difficult of times.

This week we again offer the following process to follow as you reflect on the readings, but of course you are always welcome to share in your own style.

  1. Briefly look over the 16 imperatives assigned to this week (17 through 32), either by simply reading the title or by lightly skimming the text.  Don’t feel you need to read them all.  Remember Henri’s advice on p xxi…too much salt can spoil a meal!
  2. Select a few (perhaps 2 or 3) imperatives that stand out to you, and read them thoroughly, perhaps several times.
  3.  Consider:
    1. The 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? What do the Scriptures say?*
    4. How you will respond?  Carefully (prayerfully) consider how your heart responds to the insights gained during your reflection. Are there small steps you can take to incorporate these insights and to move toward spiritual freedom in your life?  Perhaps you would like to write your own Spiritual Imperative.
    5. Pray!
  4. Please share with the group to the degree you are comfortable

Very much looking forward to hearing from you,

Ray and Brynn

Posted in Advent 2015 | 110 Comments

Nov 22 – 28: Imperatives 1 through 16

Reading: Imperatives 1 through 16 (pages 3 to 25)

It was so wonderful to see all your introductions last week – again, a very warm welcome to each of you!  We are excited to begin our first full week of exploring the text.

As we saw through last week’s readings (Introduction) the journey from anguish to freedom is indeed a journey.  A spiritual battle.  Henri wisely choose not to fight this battle alone, but rather with the tiny bit of strength he had in him, he put himself at the feet of God, and clung to God’s Word of truth.  By doing this he chose not death but life, and through the help of his caring and attentive guides, each day he chose very small steps towards life.

Whether you are in a place of crisis, or whether you are in a calm place but want to daily take steps towards life in Christ, you are invited to engage the journey as Henri did.  This group is here to listen, encourage and support.

You are free to share whatever comes up for you in the readings.  Below we offer you a process you might follow, to help you explore the readings and share your journey with the group.

  1. Briefly look over the 16 imperatives assigned to this week (1 through 16), either by simply reading the title or by lightly skimming the text.  Don’t feel you need to read them all.  Remember Henri’s advice on p xxi…too much salt can spoil a meal!
  2. Select a few (perhaps 2 or 3) imperatives that stand out to you, and read them thoroughly, perhaps several times.
  3.  Consider:
    1. The 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? What do the Scriptures say?*
    4. How you will respond?  Carefully (prayerfully) consider how your heart responds to the insights gained during your reflection. Are there small steps you can take to incorporate these insights and to move toward spiritual freedom in your life?  Perhaps you would like to write your own Spiritual Imperative.
    5. Pray!
  4. Please share with the group to the degree you are comfortable

* Although in this text we don’t see Henri referencing specific chapters and verses of Scripture, we do know that he loved the Scriptures and looked to them for truth.  Indeed, you can see Scriptural truths throughout many of the imperatives.  We encourage you to seek out for yourself, or perhaps on behalf of others in the group, the Scriptural truths we can and must cling to on our journeys.

Very much looking forward to hearing from each of you!

Ray and Brynn

Posted in Advent 2015 | 126 Comments

Nov 18 – 21: Advent 2015 Introductions

Reading:  Introduction (xxi to xix).

While you can skip the introduction to many books, you are encouraged to read and reflect on this one to understand Henri’s journey and how this book came to be.   Note: you can find the link to the reading schedule in the black navigation bar, which is located directly below the photo on the top of this page.

A very warm welcome to each of you!  You will find here, in the weeks ahead, a caring community of people who encourage each other in their desire after the heart of God.  Henri Nouwen is our guide, as we study his books and legacy.  We as facilitators do our best to make the space for this community to form, and it is truly each of you that actually creates it.  If you’ve joined us before you’ll know how incredible these times are.  If this is your first time – welcome!

This Advent we will open up the pages of Henri’s “The Inner Voice of Love.”  As you likely know already, this book is composed of journal entries written by Henri during one of the most difficult times in his life.  Henri shows us how he was honest with himself and with God about the pain he was feeling, but he also shows us how he chose to journey through the anguish to freedom.  We can follow his example as he turns his eyes upon Jesus, and therefore leads us to a place of hope and new life.  This book is equally for those who are in a time of deep anguish and for those who are in a time of peace and joy, and want to be reminded of practical ways to keep their eyes on our Saviour.

Before we jump in, it is always helpful to provide some information on how this online discussion flows.  Each Sunday you will discover a new “post,” indicated by the bold title, on the blog’s Home page. This post will have discussion questions based around the week’s readings. 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 Will, Ray or Brynn 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 further questions about how the blog works, please feel free to ask.

After that long introduction, we would love to hear from you!

Please 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) Whether or not you’ve read The Inner Voice of Love before, and if so, how it was significant to you at that time
d) What you hope to experience during this Advent discussion

We very much look forward to hearing from each of you!

In gratitude,

Ray and Brynn

RAY GLENNON: Ray actively volunteers in his parish Confirmation and Adult Faith Formation Programs. He and his wife are members of a Catholic charismatic community. He 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.  If you have any questions for Ray, please contact him at ray.glennon@1972.usna.com and you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/@RayGlennon.

BRYNN LAWRENCE: Brynn is a marriage restoration life coach and an experienced group facilitator. She has been helping to preserve Henri’s Legacy for the last six years, through her role as project coordinator of the Nouwen Archive Letter Project and also by facilitating many of our online book discussions. Brynn is  the founder of Abundant Life Coaching. If you have any questions for Brynn, please feel free to contact her through her website.

Posted in Advent 2015 | 131 Comments

Advent Book Discussion

Welcome to the Henri Nouwen Advent Book Discussion!

We are delighted to present “The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey through Anguish to Freedom” as this Advent’s featured book.

At first glimpse, this may seem like a peculiar choice for an Advent-themed discussion since Advent is a celebration of darkness giving way to light with the coming of the Messiah. Yet, this is precisely what this book reflects. It’s a journal of Henri’s darkest days, the most difficult period of his life. It was written during a time of recovery from a breakdown that left Henri feeling he had lost everything: self-esteem, the energy to live and work, the ability to love and be loved… even his hope in God. But out of this incredible personal anguish comes healing and hope – a light to dissipate the personal darkness in which Henri found himself enveloped.

Henri’s journal reflects a fierce inner struggle following what he called “an interrupted friendship,” a friendship that he had come to depend on, only to find himself seemingly abandoned and rejected. He left his community, went into counseling therapy, and during this period, after each counseling session wrote a “spiritual imperative” — “a command to myself that had emerged from our sessions. These imperatives were directed to my own heart. They were not meant for anyone but myself.” Which is precisely what makes them so powerful.

“The Inner Voice of Love” has been called a life-changing book – ideal for anyone who is looking for relief from the brokenness, grief or disappointment that touches each of our lives in one way or the other.

Our discussion moderators for this Advent offering are Ray Glennon and Brynn Lawrence, familiar to many of our blog readers for their outstanding leadership and direction during previous book discussions.

If you don’t have a copy of “The Inner Voice of Love”, you can purchase it through our Amazon store connection here.

Things get underway on November 18, 2015, with introductions and a reading/discussion schedule for the Advent book discussion. We’re looking forward to a meaningful, spirited and inspired discussion! Be sure to tell your friends. Everyone is welcome.

Posted in Advent 2015 | 86 Comments