April 13th to 19th: Conclusions

Reading:  Heart Speaks to Heart III “Look, here are my hands…” and Epilogue, as well as Making All This New Conclusion

We have been on an incredible Lenten journey together, and I am deeply grateful to each and every person who has journeyed with us (either actively or silently).

As with any journey, it is important to take the time to solidify what we have learned, and how we have grown, to be sure that we take it with us.

1) “Thank you for letting me believe more every day, hope more every day and love more every day” (Heart Speaks to Heart, p 57).
a) Below I’ve inserted a portion of a letter written by Henri in September of 1991.  May it remind you and inspire you to give God your full “yes” more and more every day.

Nouwen_letter_Sept_3_1991_adjusted

2) I invite you to take some time to look back over the previous six weeks and remember the most important things that Jesus spoke to you about.
a)  Please share with us the one or two things that you really want to take with you and integrate more fully into your life from here on in.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20-21

In gratitude to each of you,

Brynn

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29 Responses to April 13th to 19th: Conclusions

  1. Jeanne says:

    Thank you for this opportunity to grow in faith. Greater discipline is what I need now and I have plans for drawing closer and enveloping myself in a God’s love, in the sacred heart of Jesus. I feel on the cusp of a new step in faith and I’m both excited and filled with trepidation. I hope we do this sort of study again next year–who knows where I’ll be then! Joy and peace to all.

  2. kathy salem ma says:

    Thank you Brynn and all of you who shared this journey.
    I know that I do have a hunger that drives me to keep on seeking. I have long accepted that this “hunger is the first sign of God’s presence”. Sadly, because of my lack of self disipline, at times I slip away into my fog and dull my connection. God thankfully has always called me back and thankfully I am able to reconnect.
    I loved the closing lines in Making All Things New. I base my hope in them.
    “When we remain attentive to this Divine Presence, we will be led always deeper into the Kingdom. There to our joyful surprise, we will discover that all things are being made new.”
    I have struggled lately with doubt. I am praying and staying with the words on page 94; “But the struggle is not beyond our strength. It calls for some very specific, well-planned steps.”
    I am committing myself to these two very clear steps.
    1. “It calls for a few moments a day in the presence of God when we can listen to (God’s) voice precisely in the midst of our many concerns.”
    I am going to continue my quiet sit -now up to 15 minutes each morning before I start my agenda with my prayer routine; Loyolla Press 3 minute retreat, Richard Rohr CAC daily meditaion, and now Henri Nouwen’s daily web reflections along with my journal reflections.
    Give God a chance before I start !!!!
    2. “It also calls for the persistent endeavor to be with others in a new way by seeing them not as people to whom we can cling to in fear, but as fellow human beings with whom we can create new space for God.”
    With that instruction in mind, I will continue with my in interfaith prayer group. I’m also planning a weekend away with people from my Paulist Church community. I have invited them to come up to Maine to step away and pray. My son has offered me the use of his Maine vacation house and I have planned the share time. We will be using either, Always We Begin Again by John McQuinston or Seven Sacred Pauses by Macrina Wiederkehr for prayer format and David Whytes CDS from the Book The House of Belonging for discussion and journaling. There is space for eight and I know that I might be there alone but I am taking the risk and trusting that “all will be well”.
    I am also accepting that all my special people are on their own journey and that I can pray for them but I can’t push them or brow beat them into sharing mine.

    I wish all of you a blessed Holy Week and I will carry you all with me in my heart. Thank You. Kathy

    • Maggie from Wisconsin says:

      Thanks Kathy for all your sharing!
      I love your idea of “giving God a chance before I start” :)
      Whishing you a blessed and holy week and time that “time away” that you invited your friends to. To bad I am not closer I would love to come, it sounds like wonderful place to continue ones faith journey.
      whishing you the best.
      Maggie

  3. Connie says:

    Love is stronger than death. Having lost 2 close friends this week, it takes on an even deeper meaning for me. Thank you, Lord, for your sacrificial love.
    Thank you, Brynn, for leading us in this
    beautiful lenten study with our Lord, each other and Henri’s wise words.
    Blessed Easter week to one and all. May we all draw closer to our Lord and Savior this Holy Week.

    • Doris says:

      Yes, the Lenten journey has been most incredible to me. I am so thankful for thoughts presented and the messages given by others. I have learned that solitude is not about being alone – it about being with Jesus. I recognize my need and to rebuild in solitude while talking with Him. In this time alone with Jesus we find a place to be with Him alone, to be renewed spiritually. God speaks to our heart – we can get rid of the inner chaos that is going on in our soul. We must take time for solitude for it will not come if we do not personally set aside that time. Jesus said to enter your closet and pray – I now understand what He was saying be alone with Him, talk, tell Him your needs. Read scripture, set aside time to tell God your thoughts. It will bring peace. Then there is the time we need for community with other Christians walking alongside them, sharing their needs as well. Thus our hearts will become peaceful for Jesus will reign.

  4. Jenny Linnell says:

    Thank you Brynn for the wonderful opportunity you provided to become closer to Jesus during this Lenten season. It was a first for me and it came at the right time for my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer disease during this time. A dreaded feeling on my part was verified through various tests. “We do not know what the future holds but we know Who holds the future” a well-known saying but so true and comforting.
    Every day I eagerly read the letters and was comforted that there are so many like-minded Christians trying to follow Jesus in a deeper more personal way.
    I so much appreciated Henri’s “The soldier “pierced his side with a lance..” I had never before read anything as moving as this chapter about Jesus terrible suffering; so much more and terrifying than just the crucifixion. Such great incomprehensible love we received from our Saviour!
    Such consolation to read Henri’s letter; the part that spoke to me was about the growing older and I pray that I, too, will have the opportunity to say a great “Yes” to the One who says to me “I love you,” and that our final death is a return to that sacred place from where we have come.
    Thank you to all who spoke so openly and eloquently about your faith journeys; it was an inspiration and blessing to me.

    • Doris says:

      One last reply – yes I know I have probably written too much. Today my heart is overflowing with love and peace for the God of all Gods lives within. The Lenten journey as I look back I see that Jesus has walked with me, talked with me in the solitude. I have seen a change in my life – I need and want to draw closer for there is only one way and that is the path He trod. We too must come to that place where nothing matters but our Lord and being obedient to His will. I cannot say more except Thank You Jesus…..for all you have done. Also to all that wrote, to the meditations that spoke to my heart thank you and may God bless you all this Easter Season as we celebrate the risen Christ…Amen

    • Marianne says:

      Jenny: Thanks for sharing about your husband. The hardest thing about Alzheimer’s disease is probably the fear of the unknown. My Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s quite a few years ago. I love taking my Dad for coffee and doing short visits with him that twig old memories. A person with Alzheimer’s Disease is no less loveable even though their future is not what we expected. When bad things happen, the good is right beside it and I’ll pray that you will have eyes to see the good things. Blessings.

  5. Bonnie J says:

    Thanks to Brynn for her inspired leadership in this time of reading and reflection. And thanks to all of you who have contributed so many thoughtful words and ideas. I have not been a regular in terms of posting, but I have been reading and following throughout. I have been through a bit of a dark time but I am starting to see light now. I have been very discouraged by my sinfulness, by my lack of discipline during Lent, by my internal rebellion against my Lenten resolutions, which were not too hard in the first place. But I read something from Robert Baron this morning: “What does the desert symbolize? A number of things: confrontation with our own sin so as to see the dark side, a deep realization of dependency on God, an ordering of our priorities in life; a simplification, a getting back to basics. It means any and all of these things.” So I am glad to have been in the desert. The desert I created not through my sacrifices but through my lack of same. For me it was a constant confirmation of my own sin, which took me to a position of letting go of control and finally allowing myself to be dependent on God. I need to constantly work at “letting go and letting God.”
    I will pray for all of you and know that you will also pray for me as we continue on this journey to “the sacred place of love from where we have come. ” Thank you for the gifts of Henri Nouwen. Many blessing to all especially during this Holy Week.
    Bonnie

    • Marianne says:

      I too got a bit behind on the reading but enjoyed so much reading the last chapter of Heart Speaks to Heart. The take-away message from this Lent is to spend the time in solitude and prayer, connecting with the Holy Spirit.

      I’m preparing for a couple of small family gatherings – one today on Good Friday and one tomorrow. Sometimes the things God has for us to do is different than what we would like to do or what is easy for us.

      Thanks Brynn for your very insightful questions and your leadership – appreciated as always. I will still be checking back to read Easter Sunday posts in case there are any! : )

  6. Christine says:

    What will I be taking away with me from this shared Lenten pilgrimage that was guided by the thoughts and words and prayers of Henri Nouwen? Over the past few weeks I’ve been quietly reading the reflections of others in this group. I made a choice to practice a bit of silence within this community discussion. Giving myself permission to listen in silence helped me understand something of Henri’s ideas about the discipline of solitude being linked to the discipline of community.

    This week, in “Heart Speaks to Heart,” I read Henri’s words addressed to Jesus: “Where your heart is, there we are, children of your heavenly Father. In your heart we are forever hidden and present to God. Your heart is our permanent home, our resting place, our refuge and our hope.” What this says to me is that we are, all of us, in the heart of Jesus. Perhaps, then, the heart of Jesus is what anchors us and gives us hope in our times of solitude. Perhaps, too, being held within the heart of Jesus is what also holds us together in hope and love within community.

    I’ve been touched by so much of what has been shared in this communal space. In its own way, this community discussion is representative of Henri’s idea that “life together can become ways to reveal to each other the real presence of God in our midst.” I thank each of you here for sharing a part of your journey and revealing that real presence among us. I thank Brynn for leading us and the others at the Henri Nouwen society for providing this space to share that presence.

    That is what I’ll be carrying with me in this final week of following Jesus on the road to Calvary and to the glory and mystery of the empty tomb. I wish you all a blessed and joyous Easter

  7. nancy T says:

    From my heart,I thank you all. It is reassuring to know that I am not alone on this journey. This cyber community is the company I seek to find in a physical locale. In the meantime you support me and give me courage to continue to seek and listen to God’s very still voice deep inside me. I must establish a consistent daily discipline.
    In particular I hold close to my heart the words revealed: “He knows me: He hears me: He loves me”.
    I have been nourished by you as I have silently accompanied you these six weeks.
    Until we meet again,
    Pace e Bene,
    Nancy

  8. Sue says:

    Thank all of you for your responses each week- they truly helped enlighten me and I felt you were all so vulnerable and shared such wisdom. Brynn thank you for how you brought things together for us each week and for the suggestions of what to do.

    Blessings to you all!

  9. Jon says:

    Well, I found that very helpful. Having struggled with initial vagueness as to what Henri meant by “seeking first his kingdom” – that is if it wasn’t “doing things.”

    I began to realise that of course it was prayer. But not just the type of prayer which of itself is a bit like “doing” praying for this or for that, this too is too much me feeling in control, setting the agenda, trying to sort out what worries me.
    My prayer life must of course include this more verbal prayer agenda, but must also include more just sitting, being still, being quiet in His presence. The conclusion of “Making all things new” confirmed this, and gave simple practical steps – that’s how I like it!

    I think I suspected it might be this all along, but I was hoping it wasn’t, because – well I’m really not good at doing it, and make excuses for not doing so.

    So how will I prevent such practise from dwindling and then stopping as it has before for me? Well, maybe by starting in small ways, just a few minutes, what I feel I can manage – but every day. Rather than feeling if I’m going to do it, I have to do it “properly” and spend 20-30 minutes right from the start.

    But no excuses, I can do it, it is just a question of whether I will do it.
    Here goes then.

  10. Dorene Kilburn says:

    As we come to the end of this Lenten journey together, I would like to offer a few final comments. First, Jenny, I understand the Alzheimer journey you are embarking on… I have been through it with my husband. It is a road with surprises and frustrations, but Jesus will be with you every minute of every day. I will be praying for you.
    I’ve been thinking over my life and my evolving understanding of Jesus. I remember when, as a teenager, I promised to follow him. I also remember a dark time in my life, when I sought relief from loneliness in the wrong places, leaving the path Jesus called me to follow. Now, well into my 80s, it has taken me a long time to fully understand that Jesus is the only one who can fill all our needs, that in him we find total acceptance and a reason to live a life of service to our fellow-sojourners. Of that I am certain, as I now journey alone without my beloved husband and friend.
    Henri has been my mentor for over 30 years, primarily through his books, but I also had the privilege of spending time with him on two occasions through involvement in the L’Arche community here in Stratford, Ontario. I am so grateful to Brynn for her leadership in this discussion of some of his writings and for the insightful comments of all of you. My prayer is that we will go to the cross with Jesus and rejoice in his resurrection and the new life his sacrifice offers us. Wishing you all God’s Shalom.

  11. Sharon K. Hall says:

    Reread “Heart Speaks to Heart” this morning and again found it very comforting. Our daughter is getting married early June. On page 7 “Henri reminds us that it is in the union of those we love that we find salvation. There we abandon loneliness. There we end the devastation of separation. That love, Henri wrote, ultimately is the love given and received from God.” I hope and pray that, as my daughter and her fiancé live out their lives married to each other, they will grow to realize this ultimate truth ever more and more deeply. The community is there to support them. The other quote which jumped out at me is on page 55, “O Lord, it is true. I know it. Every time I overcame the fear of my own wounds and the wounds of those around me and dared to touch them gently, joy and peace came to me in ways I never dreamed of.” My mother-in-law is in an assisted living. She shared with me how she doesn’t like to go upstairs to the activities because seeing all those old people just waiting to die depresses her. I tried to offer words of encouragement to her telling her my belief that, while the old people look tired and suffering, inside they are getting stronger and moving towards new bodies in the resurrection. Maybe this is all true, I don’t know, but it occurs to me after reading Henri Nouwen’s book again that perhaps my mother-in-law is not helped by me saying things like this and, in fact I am worried about my own wounded ideas about old people’s tiredness and suffering–what we both need to do is to overcome “fear of our wounds and dare to touch them gently and joy and peace will come to us in ways that we never dreamed of.” Not wanting to see tiredness and suffering and wanting to focus on strength and the resurrection is probably denying Jesus and his love for us in some way. Henri Nouwen’s writings are awesome and lead us into a spiritual reality that is much more profound that has been speaking to me even as late as this morning though I thought I had read his book so carefully during the earlier part of the Lenten season. I am extremely grateful and especially to the Henri Nouwen Society and you, Brynn, for bringing this Lenten book-reading discipline to us and also to all the participants–the sharing has been courageous and helped foster greater understanding and faithfulness to following Jesus and paying attention to His Whole Life.

  12. Michelle says:

    Thank you Brynn for this opportunity to learn & share together. Much of my journey this Lentin season has been to more deeply let God & Holy Spirit in to guide me…to be more willing to let go of my mental planning sooner. The selected readings & the participants’ reflections offered a wonderful community for my Lentin goals. This Friday morning as with most of this week I find my body & mind fatigued with “miles to go” for work – literally & physically as i move into the last & most crucial leg of a critical project. Repeatedly this week I again had feelings of being unable to pray; of being blocked due lack of energy. I know it’s normal and i no longer get stuck for months, weeks or even days. I’ve gotten faster – & had more practice through this week remembering this to use a simple prayer: ” please hold me God ” & letting go. It’s all I can authentically offer and it’s enough. As I prayed it this morning I saw the connection for the first with Jesus on the cross – letting go & trusting God to hold him when he must have been experiencing some kind of exhaustion beyond what i can even safely imagine at this point…. Thank you to all the bookclub members for sharing your light, energy & love whether in words or active silence. May we realize each day more deeply God’s abundant Love this Easter Season & always. Peace & Blessings ~ Michelle

  13. Ray Glennon says:

    I also want to thank Brynn for her leadership and each of you for sharing this Lenten journey.

    This afternoon I spent some time preparing to proclaim the second reading (from the Letter to the Hebrews) at the Good Friday: Passion of the Lord service in our parish. For me, the conclusion of this reading pointed me toward the concrete steps I am committed to take as a result of our Lenten journey together. In Hebrews 5:8-9 we read, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” The workbook for readers points out that Jesus “learned” obedience through his suffering and that what God desires from us is what Jesus offered to him–humble, obedient heart.

    Isn’t this very similar to what Henri tells us about the spiritual life? That Jesus was concerned only with one thing: to do the will of his Father. That “His obedience means a total, fearless listening to his loving Father.” Nouwen goes on to say about Jesus, “He became like us so we may become like him.” And to become like Jesus means to be obedient (i.e., to listen) and to do the will of the Father. How is this possible? Henri reminds us, “This radical transformation of our lives is the work of the Holy Spirit” if, of course, we accept this priceless gift.

    And that leads me to my takeaway from our Lenten journey. Writing about the spiritual life Henri says, “…involves not only serious aspiration but also strong determination. A spiritual life requires human effort… A spiritual life without discipline is impossible. Discipline is the other side of discipleship.” (emphasis added) And that discipline is founded on obedience or “listening” for the still small voice of God. The challenge for me is to hear that voice of God so that I can follow it. Throughout the Gospels and as emphasized in today’s reading from Hebrews, Jesus show us how to live an obedient life–to listen to the Father and to do his will.

    Making and keeping a commitment to set aside “…a time and a place for God, and for him alone…” and to act on the basic fact “…that what matters is faithfulness to the discipline” is what I must do if I am to respond to the “hunger…(that) is the first sign of God’s presence.” I know that I have this hunger. My struggle is to remain faithful and to trust in the Lord among the worries and distractions of the world. In addition, the discipline of spiritual writing or journaling is one that I want to return to. Henri’s words, “I simply prayed as I wrote and I wrote as I prayed” will serve as an inspiration to me.

    May the blessings of the Lord be with each of you during this most holy season of the year. I look forward to joining many of you on a similar Henri Nouwen book discussion journey next Advent.

    Peace and all good.

    Ray
    Twitter: @RayGlennon

  14. Donna says:

    This season of community study has enriched my soul. To share the lessons learned through Christ is good community. In this last reading, Nouwen writes: [Gradually, I realize that in your heart, seeing and not seeing, hearing and not hearing, touching and not touching are not contradictions... I have not seen You and yet I truly see You every time I look at the broken bodies of my fellow human beings. I have not heard You, and yet I truly hear You every time I hear the cries uttered by men, women and children in pain. I have not touched You, and yet I truly touch You every time I touch all those who come to me in their loneliness. In the midst of all the human brokenness and human pain, I see, hear and touch the heart of humanity, Your humanity, the humanity of all the people embraced by Your love.] So well said! Blessings to all who have been on this Lenten journey! I have been embraced my Christ’s holy love!

  15. Brynn Lawrence says:

    May I also express my deep gratitude to each of you for making this Lenten journey so rich, honest and real. It is each of you who participates (in whatever form) that makes this community so amazing.

    I also want to recognize Maureen, who is our behind the scenes leader. As the Nouwen Legacy Manager she does so much to make these enriching opportunities happen.

    Finally may your heart continue to hear from, and speak to, the heart of Jesus as we celebrate his resurrection:

    “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
    “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Mark 16:4-7

  16. Lata Hall says:

    It has been an incredible spiritual journey with you all. I have managed to read every entry, in spite of the fact that this poor computer was having problem. Last night, I did the Good Friday readings with the meditation on the stations of the Cross given to me by a Franciscan Priest and prayed till late in the night, prayed for all the people who have been my partners in this Lenten study and my heart felt at peace which we call the peace which passes all understanding. Brynn and Maureen have made it possible. May the Risen Christ bless you, journey with you always. Let us always live in the Heart of Jesus as we were in His Heart on the day of He was crucified. He looked across the years and said, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’ His words to us all after he rose from the dead,’ Let not your hearts be troubled for I am with you till the ends of the time.’ You will remain in my heart as I will read these entries many times after I return home at the end of this month. We shall meet one day and we will know because we have been united by the Holy Spirit. A very Blessed Easter to you all and I know we will meet again as we all love Henry Nouwen. Lata

  17. Gina Oliva says:

    Well Friends,
    I am very late in posting this, a week behind or two weeks behind but no matter. As I sit in one of the bedrooms of my childhood home, surrounded by a family of “unbelievers” or at least not church goers, I am so grateful to have this online community. I love Henri’s book “Making All things New” and have read it through several times. Knowing there are others who love this book (and others) as well has made me feel very supported and nourished.
    Just today I had an “art day” with one of my sisters’ grandchildren (age 7), and we were making up a story to put into an “art journal” — we made up a story together, and my niece started it by saying there is a robot who we are afraid of. In composing the story, I would make up one line, then my great-neice would make up the next line, and we took turns typing these lines into a laptop. So she types “I’m so scared of this robot!” And I type (smarty pants me, right??) “Well, maybe we should say a prayer and ask God to give us courage!” Guess what she types next?? “I’m allergic to praying!” Wow, I was a little stunned, but not so, knowing sadly the kind of people she is surrounded by day by day. Surely she has heard someone else say this???
    Well, at any rate, it reminds me of Henri’s sharings in “The Road to Daybreak” how visiting his family would discourage him, because so few if any of his family members were people of faith.
    At any rate…later in the story it seems my niece got over her allergy. I think. It was not crystal clear. Sigh. Well I pray nevertheless that I got her to think a little bit about prayer.
    Now I am wondering when is the next online discussion I can join!!!!
    Happy Easter everyone, HE IS RISEN!!!!!!

  18. Carol K says:

    Thank you all. Silently reading and absorbing your thoughts. Often reread. Is that possible after today?

  19. John says:

    Thank you all for allowing me to share your struggles & insights. During the less-than-discipline times it was great to know you were there. Both books & the sharings were helpful in giving a boost to my daily prayers. Even though I did not share much, I was there with you in spirit & prayer. Thanks Brynn & Maureen. Until we meet again, God bless to all.

  20. Maureen says:

    Dear all,

    I am filled with gratitude for the gift of each one of you! You have been so generous, compassionate, wise and courageous in your reflections over the last 6 weeks. You have reached out to one another and you have journeyed deep inside yourselves and I sense a collective peace and a collective desire to enter into an ever-deepening relationship with God.

    As always, I send deep thanks and many blessings to Brynn for her wise and gentle leadership. It has been a grace-filled journey!

    We look forward to coming together again, certainly during Advent but if there is interest in another book discussion before Advent, please let us know.

    Easter blessings,
    Maureen
    Nouwen Legacy Manger
    1-866-226-2158

    • Gina Oliva says:

      I would love to participate in another online discussion. And much sooner than next year!! I hope you announce one soon!!
      Thank you!!!
      Gina

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