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 Adevent-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.

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Summer Book Discussion Ends

The first sign that summer is drawing to a close is that our summer book discussion has ended!

I would like to say a big thank you to all who read the book and contributed to the thoughtful and engaging discussion. It is always such a blessing to have the time and the opportunity to delve into one of Henri Nouwen’s enlightening books and share the experience with others.

I am sure you all join with me in extending a heartfelt thank you to Ray Glennon for facilitating the discussion, monitoring the blog, and responding to comments in such a gracious and insightful manner. We look forward to enjoying Ray’s inspired leadership in many more upcoming book discussions.

As the summer reading series closes, we are already prepping for the Advent reading series that will begin in November. An announcement will be posted on our website (and in the Daily Meditation emails) when the book title is chosen… Not to worry, we’ll let you know in plenty of time so you can get a copy, dig out your fur-lined slippers, and snuggle into your favorite reading chair to enjoy another Henri Nouwen selection during the Advent season. We look for to seeing you then.

Many thanks to you all. Blessings and peace.

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August 2nd to August 8th: The Four Paths

Reading: No new reading.  Review and reflect across all four The Path of… essays

Friends, we are nearing the end of our challenging, inspirational, and spirit-filled summer journey together. Thanks to each of you for joining us along the way.  Our community has been enriched by your presence and participation whether you posted comments or followed along silently.

This week we take a step back, as Henri said at the outset of the first essay, to look at our world, our lives, and the four paths from “…the spiritual distance of our faith…with the eyes of  God.” (p  23)  We will consider and reflect on all four readings.  As always, please share whatever is on your mind and in your heart from any of the readings or sharing, any insights you gained during our time together,  things you will take away and incorporate into your spiritual life, or in response to this post.  To get us started, here are a few of my thoughts for your consideration followed by three reflection questions.

During our journey we have reflected on four seemingly dissimilar paths yet, from a distance, we can see that each path, if followed faithfully, is the way that will lead us home. We might find ourselves one one path under certain circumstances and a very different path when the circumstances change–either later in life or, sometimes, later that same day!  Yet even as we change paths the home to which God is calling us remains the same. If that is true, there must be some features common to each path that allows seekers to continue to find the way.

Using Henri’s three-point approach, it seems to me that the common features can be summed up in these words: weakness, community, and Jesus.  Throughout these essays Henri shows us how in our weakness we gain God’s strength and that by traveling these paths in community we strengthen each other by sharing our sorrows and joys.  Most important, Henri shows us that Jesus walked these same paths and he is here to walk with us and guide us if we but choose to follow him.  If we join with Jesus and each other on our life journey we will build the kingdom of God regardless of which path we are on at the time.  Or in the words of St. Catherine of Siena, “All the way to heaven is heaven, because Jesus said, ‘I am the way.'”

Reflection Questions
1. What are the most 2-3 most significant ideas, images, quotations, questions, or sharings that you will take away from our discussion of Finding My Way Home?

2.  Henri’s friend Sue Mosteller concludes her Introduction: “To read it is to experience what Henri would call, “finding home on the way home.” (p 15) How did reading and sharing this book help you to do just that?

3. In the final essay, Henri says, “Fruitfulness in the spiritual life is about love, and this fruitfulness is very different from success or productivity.” What have you learned that will help you live a more fruitful life on whatever path you find yourself?

A Fond Farewell
Finally, as we are concluding our summer book discussion, Maureen Wright is concluding her many years of dedicated service to the Henri Nouwen Society.  She is embarking on  the next phase of her journey  serving the Lord by assisting seniors to remain in their own homes. On behalf of all who have participated in these discussions over the years, I want to thank Maureen for her commitment, dedication, and support to those that have gathered to read and share Henri’s books and have been enriched as a result.  Thanks and Godspeed Maureen! You will be missed, but not forgotten.

I’m looking forward to another fruitful week of sharing and I hope that many of you will join us later this year for our Advent book discussion.

May the Lord give you peace and walk with you as you find your way home.


Posted in Summer 2015 Finding My Way Home | 15 Comments

July 26 to August 1: The Path of Living and Dying

Reading: The Path of Living and Dying (p 119-155)
For the complete reading schedule and instructions on how to submit and reply to comments, click on the Reading Schedule link in the bar immediately below the photo.

Thanks for joining us on what has proved to be a wonderful and spirit-filled journey! We have all been greatly blessed by Henri’s words and the heartfelt and inspiring sharing among our community. This week Henri challenges us to look ahead to our death at the end of our earthly journey–“our final passage, our exodus to the full realization of our identity as God’s beloved children and to full communion with the God of love.” (p 155)

Henri tells the story of his life-threatening and, much more important, life-changing experience after being hit by a car. “(I)n the midst of my confusion and shock I became calm, very “at rest” and there was a sort of “embrace of God” that reassured me and gently told me, ‘Don’t be afraid.  You are safe.  I am going to bring you home. You belong to me and, and I belong to you.'” (p 121) He goes on to say he “became aware of some of (his) life’s unfinished business” and describes his belief that he had “been given a gift of extended time to live my life more fully and to better prepare (himself) for his death”; Henri concludes, “I was deeply convinced in my heart that what I had experienced changed forever how I would live in the world.”

Haven’t we all had life-changing experiences, if not life-threatening ones?  Don’t we all have “life’s unfinished business” to address? And who among us doesn’t long to feel the embrace of God and to be told “Don’t be afraid”?  There is so much in this essay to assist us in reflecting on how we can respond to those events and tackle the unfinished business so we can live a life of fruitfulness that will allow us to experience a beautiful death like that of Henri’s friends who say, “I’m going to die.  I’ve had a beautiful life, and I’m grateful.  I give myself over to God and I want you to remember me.” (p 145)  However Henri reminds us that experiencing a beautiful death is almost impossible to do alone, hence Henri’s emphasis throughout his writing on the importance of community.  “We need other people whispering in our ears, ‘Don’t be afraid to die, because even when you die, you will stay with us in a very deep way.'” (p 146)

Henri delivered the presentation and gave the interview that were the source of this essay about a year before his unexpected death.  He said then, “At sixty-three, I am very aware that for me it is just a question of years, a few years.  I sense that my aging is a time for me to be thinking about my passage to more abundant life. I want to become grateful that my life will come to completion and to anticipate sending my spirit of love to all those I cherish… I want to befriend my death.” (p 154).  We that read and share his words are the recipients of his legacy and fruitful death; we are called to do as Henri did, to follow the path of Jesus during our lifetime.  Henri writes, “He calls to us, ‘Follow me.’  He assures us, ‘Do not be afraid.’ This is our faith.”

There are no specific “starter questions” for this week.  Our community has been together for some time now and the online discussion has been rich, inspiring, and fruitful.  You are encouraged to comment on anything that touched you in the essay, in this post, or to share your personal experiences.  We look forward to hearing from many of you as we also thank those of you that our following along in silence.

May the Lord give you peace.

Posted in Summer 2015 Finding My Way Home | 35 Comments

July 19th to July 25th: The Path of Waiting

Reading: The Path of Waiting (p 87-117)
For the complete reading schedule and instructions on how to submit and reply to comments, click on the Reading Schedule link in the bar immediately below the photo.

Welcome back as we continue our summer journey Finding My Way Home.  We have walked together on two of the four paths and have shared much along the way.  Thanks to each of you for your participation whether you have been actively commenting or following along silently. Know that your presence is valued.

The theology of weakness (The Path of Power) and the fellowship of the weak (The Path of Peace) point to The Path of Waiting that Henri explores this week.  He shows us the way to a life of active waiting with a sense of promise that is based on hope and trust in God. Henri teaches us what it means to actively wait, encourages us to wait in community, and shows us that in our waiting we must be willing “to be handed over” as Jesus was.  And we learn that just as we are waiting on God to define our lives, God is waiting on us to choose to follow him.  “God became human not only to act among us but also to be the recipient of our responses.” (p 110)

This is a sage, challenging, and rewarding essay.  As Henri writes, “The life of Jesus tells us that not to be in control is part of the human condition. His vocation and ours are fulfilled not just in action but also in passion, waiting… If it is true that God in Jesus Christ is waiting for our response to divine love… then we can learn to be obedient people who do not always try to go back to the action but who recognize the fulfillment of our deepest humanity in passion, in waiting.” (p115, 117)

We very much look forward to hearing from each of you this week. Your honest reflections are an encouragement to all who are journeying with us this summer. You may respond to one or more of the questions below or share anything that came up for you in the reading.

1.  Henri writes, “A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, believing that this moment is the moment… Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. “(p 97)
a)  Have you experienced the active waiting and patient living Henri describes in your life? What was the result?

2. Henri tells the story of Mary and Elizabeth to illustrate the strength of waiting in community. “Christian community is the place where we keep the flame of hope alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us.  In this way we can live with courage, trusting that there is a spiritual power… that allows us to live in this world without surrendering to the powerful forces constantly seducing us to despair.” (p 103)
a) How do Henri’s insights about waiting in community change your understanding of community?  of waiting?

3.  In considering active waiting and our world today, Henri asks,” In our world today, how much are we really in control?  Isn’t our life in large part passion?”  He then writes,  “Therefore it becomes increasingly important to recognize that the largest part of our existence involves waiting in the sense of being acted upon.” (p 115)
a) When have you experienced “being handed over” in your life?  How did you respond?  Would Henri’s teaching lead you to respond differently in the future?

May we have another blessed week of sharing.

Posted in Summer 2015 Finding My Way Home | 33 Comments

July 12th to July 18th: The Path of Peace

Reading:  The Path of Peace (p 51-85)
For the complete reading schedule and instructions on how to submit and reply to comments, click on the Reading Schedule link in the bar immediately below the photo.

Welcome back to our virtual, but very real, community to continue our summer journey. This week we will consider The Path of Peace and reflect on Henri’s words as he  tells the story of his friend Adam and “…let(s) him become the silent spokesperson of the peace that is not of this world.” (p 56) 

But first, let’s briefly consider the impact that Henri’s relationship with Adam had on his life. Henri tells us, “As my fears of making a mistake or hurting Adam gradually decreased and as I became more relaxed with his routine…I began to experience a mutuality of love not based so much on shared knowledge or shared feelings, but on shared humanity. The longer I stayed with Adam the more clearly I recognized him as my gentle teacher…” (p 59-60) Yet Adam was unlike any teacher the highly educated and world-renowned priest, writer, and speaker had ever known.  “Adam has never said a word to me. He will never do so. But every night as I put him to bed I say ‘thank you.'” (p 75)

Henri with his friend and teacher Adam (Photo by Zenia Kushpeta)

Henri with his friend and teacher Adam (Photo by Zenia Kushpeta)

Adam died on February 13, 1996 just as Henri was finishing the book we discussed last summer. There Henri wrote, “I dedicate Can You Drink this Cup? to Adam Arnett, my friend and teacher… I hope and pray that his life and death will continue to bear much fruit in the lives of all those who have known him and loved him so much.”  Later that year the Lord called Henri home and I am certain he and Adam were reunited in love.

Now let’s turn to the reading for this week.  Henri writes, “Adam’s particular gift of peace is rooted in his being and his heart and it always calls forth community.
(p 61) This is a rich essay with many ideas to ponder.


The three included here are offered to help get us started.   You may respond to these suggestions, share your thoughts on something that touched you, or follow along silently. Regardless of how you participate, you bless us with your presence in our community.

1.  “How simple the truth that Adam teaches me, but how hard to live.  Being is more important that doing.” (p 62)
In a world that values doing, what steps have you taken or would you like take to seek the peace that comes from being with the Lord and each other?

2.  Henri tells us that the heart is the center of our being where God comes to dwell.  He writes, “Adam keeps revealing to me, over and over again and in his own clear way, that what make us human is not primarily our minds but our hearts; it is not first of all our ability to think which gives us our particular identity in all of creation, but it is our ability to love.” (p 65-66)
What is your response to Henri’s insight as you look at the world today?  How are you living out your humanity in love?

3.  “Adam is gradually teaching me something about a peace that is not of this world.  It is a peace… rooted in simply being present to each other and working together in harmony, a peace that speaks about the first love of God by which we are all held safe, and a peace that keeps calling us to community in a fellowship of the weak.” (p 75)
Can you share about one or more “communities” in your life where you experience the peace we described by Henri?

We have a wonderful week of rich sharing ahead of us.

Posted in Summer 2015 Finding My Way Home | 42 Comments

July 5th to July 11th: The Path of Power

Reading:  The Path of Power (p 21-49).
For the complete reading schedule and instructions on how to submit and reply to comments, click on the Reading Schedule link in the bar immediately below the photo.

Thanks to each of you for joining the vibrant group of seekers forming this spirit-filled community. We had a wonderful first week of warm introductions and sharing.  It is a great joy to reconnect with previous participants and to welcome many others joining us for the first time.  Thanks to each of you for your contributions—whether you actively post comments or follow our discussion silently. We are all blessed simply by your presence.

Henri’s essay The Path of Power is thought provoking and, perhaps, transformational. Please feel free to share whatever came up for you through your reflection on the readings.  You may also choose to respond to some of the questions below:

1.  In describing power that oppresses and destroys Henri writes, “God knows the agony and anguish we have brought upon ourselves by wanting to take our destiny in our own hands and lord it over others.” (p 25) Taking it a step further he says, “The most insidious, divisive, and wounding power is used in the service of God.” (p 28)
a) Cite one or more events in in history, in our world today, or in your own life where someone has used power to “lord it over others”? What did you learn from the event that can guide us on our spiritual journey home?
b) What is your reaction to Henri’s criticism of “the devastating influence of power in the hands of God’s people”?

2.  Henri writes that our loving God confronted the evil in the world and showed us his divine mercy through powerlessness. “In Jesus of Nazareth, the powerless God appeared among us to unmask the illusion of power, to disarm the prince of darkness who rules the world, and to bring the divided human race to a new unity.” (p 31)
a) How does Jesus bring us to rest in the intimacy of God? Can you share your experience of God’s intimacy?
b) How does Jesus’ life of beatitude bring “the divided human race to a new unity”? What does this mean in your life today?

3.  In describing the power of God’s love, Henri writes, “A theology of weakness challenges us to look at weakness… as a total and unconditional dependence on God that opens us to be true channels of the divine power that heals the wounds of humanity and renews the face of the earth.” (p 40)
a) How do you respond to Henri’s challenge to look at weakness as dependence on God that renews the face of the earth?
b) How do  you live as a witness to a powerless God and help to build the kingdom of love and peace?

I’m looking forward hearing from many of you and to a rich and rewarding discussion. New joiners are always welcome, and, of course, feel free to share whatever comes up for you in the readings or to follow along silently.

Peace and all good.


Posted in Summer 2015 Finding My Way Home | 92 Comments

June 28th to July 4th: Welcome and Introductions

Reading:  Foreword by Wendy Wilson Greer and Preface by Sue Mosteller
(Note: The complete Reading Schedule is available by following the link in the navigation bar located directly below the photo at the top of the page.)

A very warm welcome to each of you–friends who have journeyed with us before and those joining us for the first time.  You will find here, in the weeks ahead, a wonderful group of seekers who encourage each other in their desire after the heart of God.  This summer we will be reading and discussing Finding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the Spirit, a collection of four short Henri Nouwen essays  that complement each other wonderfully.  I’m glad that you will be joining us as we follow Henri’s lead on this spiritual journey.

Those of you that have participated before already know how rich and rewarding the exchange of ideas within our online community can be. If you are a newcomer, rest assured that your appreciation of this book will be deepened by the comments and insights shared among this welcoming group.   As the facilitator my role is to prepare a space and scatter a few seeds that, when joined with the seeds sown by each of you and nurtured by the group, will grow into a rich and fruitful exchange among a special and caring community.

Here is how we will proceed.  Each Sunday a new “post” will be added to the blog’s homepage that will include a title shown in bold, a reminder of the reading being discussed that week, and a brief reflection with several questions that may help to get our discussion started.  You can then add your comments to the post for the current week and reply to the comments posted by others.   What you share in your comments is totally up to you.  You may choose to respond to one or more of the questions, to share your reflections on the reading, or to comment more broadly from your life’s experience.  And if you would be more comfortable participating by reading along  and reflecting on the comments of others without posting yourself, that is fine as well.  Always click on the ‘comments’ link immediately below the current post (i.e., the first one you come to at the top) to leave your comment.  In this case, it is immediately below Ray’s brief bio.  Note:  To leave a “new comment” (i.e., not a reply to an existing comment by someone), scroll to the bottom of all existing comments to the “comment box” and enter your new comment there. 

Please note that when comments are submitted they are held for moderation so it may be a few hours before you see your comment posted.   If you have any questions about how to use the blog, please feel free ask.  You may contact me at or Maureen at

With that background out of the way, let’s get started!    You are invited to introduce yourself and to reflect on the Foreword and Preface.  In your introduction you may choose to share:

  1. Your general geographic location
  2.  To whom or what you dedicate your days and energy, and why
  3. Whether you’ve participated in previous book discussions, or if you are joining us for the first time.  For the first-timers, how did you learn about this book discussion?
  4. In the Foreword Wendy Wilson Greer writes, “Our journey, then, is a journey to discover the perfect love that only God can give us.”  What might “finding my way home” mean to you in the current stage of your life and spiritual journey.

I look forward to hearing from each of you as we share this wonderful book together.

Peace and all good,


RAY GLENNON: Ray is a lifelong Catholic who lives in Columbia, Maryland and is active as a lector and in his parish Confirmation and adult faith formation programs. He and his wife are also members of a Catholic charismatic community. Ray first became familiar with Henri’s work over 20 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 participated in these book discussions since 2010.  You may contact him at and you can follow him on Twitter at

Posted in Summer 2015 Finding My Way Home | 116 Comments

We Begin a New Book Discussion June 28th!

Bookcover_FMWH_422X597Please join Ray Glennon and the Henri Nouwen Society as we embark on an exploration of Henri Nouwen’s Finding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the Spirit. We will begin June 28th and conclude the week of August 2nd.

How does our book discussion work?
On Sunday June 28, our facilitator, Ray Glennon will introduce himself on the blog and invite you to do the same. Ray will post reflection questions on the blog each Sunday through to August 2nd in keeping with a reading schedule we have posted on this blog (see top menu for link to reading schedule). There is no need to register or sign-in.

Read, reflect, share your thoughts – participate at your own pace and in whatever way is most meaningful for you.

Need a copy of Finding My Way Home?
Click here to purchase in US$
Click here to purchase in CDN$
Click here to purchase in the UK from Darton, Longman & Todd

Finding My Way Home is a collection of four short essays, three previously published by Crossroad Publishing and here revised, that looks at different aspects of our spiritual life: The Path of Power, The Path of Peace, The Path of Waiting, and The Path of Living and Dying.

Henri with friend and founder of the Henri Nouwen Society, Wendy Wilson Greer.

In the book’s Foreword, Wendy Wilson Greer writes: “In Finding My Way Home, Henri Nouwen writes about ‘journey’ in [this] way:

Our spiritual journey calls us to seek and find this living God of Love in prayer, worship, spiritual reading, spiritual mentoring, compassionate service to the poor, and good friends. Let us claim the truth that we are loved and open our hearts to receive God’s overflowing love poured out for us.

We look forward to a fruitful discussion with friends new and old! Questions? Contact Maureen at

Posted in Summer 2015 Finding My Way Home | 28 Comments

March 29 to April 4th: Epilogue and Conclusions

Reading:  Epilogue Living the Painting

1) In the epilogue Henri reflects back on his encounter with Rembrandt’s painting.  We similarly have the opportunity to reflect back on our encounter with this book – A Story of Homecoming.
a)  How this “encounter” has impacted you and influenced you on your journey?

2) Henri takes this opportunity to further explore and clarify his call to become the Father.  He writes, “True fatherhood is sharing the poverty of God’s non-demanding love.” (p 138)  And he concludes this way, “As I look at my own aging hands, I know they have been given to me to stretch out toward all who suffer, to rest upon the shoulders of all who come, and to offer the blessings that emerge from the immensity of God’s love.” (p 139)
a) Has this Lenten journey changed your understanding of “fatherhood” or “motherhood”?
b) What can you do to stretch out your hands to your family and friends?  Your church and community?  Those you encounter on your journey?

3) Henri also encourages us to consider ways we are called to move forward on our journey.  Of his own experience he says “It is comfortable to be the wayward younger son or the angry elder son.  Our community is full of wayward and angry children, and being surrounded by peers gives a sense of solidarity.  Yet the longer I am part of the community, the more that solidarity proves to be only a way station on the road…” (p129).
a) You are invited to consider ways you may be lingering in a place of waywardness, anger, suffering, because it provides a sense of solidarity with others around you.
b) Where is God leading you to now?

We want to express our deep gratitude to all who have journeyed together this Lent.  It has been an incredibly rich time, and we look forward to hearing your concluding reflections this week.

Ray and Brynn

Posted in Lent 2015 Return of the Prodigal Son | 58 Comments