Nov 20th – Nov 23rd: Introductions

Reading: Prologue

A very warm welcome to each of you! Today we begin an Advent journey together, which is sure to be a time of sharing, learning, growth and focus. What makes these discussions so rich is the thoughtful participation of so many people. Thank-you to each of you for being here and sharing with us.

First let me quickly share how the 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 Maureen or I need to “approve” it, so it may take a few hours before it actually appears on the blog page. If you have any further questions about how the blog works, please feel free to ask.

The theme of Life of the Beloved is “spiritual living in a secular world.” It is an appropriate topic for Advent – a time when we are invited to stand in awe of Jesus, while the world rushes through one of the most consumer driven times of the year. We look to Henri Nouwen as a teacher and qualified guide, to help us live this season deeply. With that very brief introduction to the discussion, I now ask each of you to introduce yourselves.

1) Please 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

2) As you read the prologue please take it in as more than a story of how two people met. Hear what Henri was saying to Fred. Imagine yourself in the seat across from Henri. Feel his love and passion as he asks you:
a) What do you really want?
b) Is there a dream, a passion or a purpose that God has placed in your heart?
c) Has something held you back from living that purpose?
d) Have you been able to grasp and live your purpose? How?

These question are meant to help get us started in our discussion, however please always feel free to share whatever comes up for your through the readings or comments of others.

Looking forward to a great Advent together,


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118 Responses to Nov 20th – Nov 23rd: Introductions

  1. Patty Geinosky says:

    My first time in the book study, asking myself “where have I been?”.
    Have been reading Henri’s books for years, so long that over the years the front covers have changed.
    Brings me to the next thought……in my life, I get older, have had various job, 4 very different sons……yet, I truly believe that inside I am pretty much the same.

    The same being a good thing, sensitive to others, caring and compassionate, loving to my husband and family, but I have and continue to change in my “faith”….being Catholic, following in love again with God, Scripture, Mass, Sacraments…..expecially when it comes to forgiveness and acceptance!

    My passion….. To continue on Jesus Christ mission daily, in the way I can do best!!! I finally understand that yes, I am one of God’s Beloved, this is what, with God’s grace U can bring to others! God Bless all!! Happy Thanksgiving! patty

  2. I am living in Fukushima Japan and read the Daily words sent every day with gratitude. I had given up joining as the book didn’t seem to be available where I ordered it but lo and behold, it arrived in the mail today so I guess that tells me the will of God for this Advent. I have lived in Japan since 1970 and am retired after teaching for too many years to remember, around 55 I think. I am a Canadian and member of the Congregation de Notre Dame of Montreal. I spend my week helping out with shopping, preparing for two community college classes, one on reading Genesis and the other poetry. (Denise Levertov this year). On Thursdays I have two Bible groups as we prepare together for Sunday’s Liturgy of the Word. I am on the Parish Council and participate in other small parish groups.
    So as with many of those participating, I am toooo busy and need a little help to get into the spirit of Advent.
    Hope this is not too long.

    Sr. Maureen

  3. Marie Pilong says:

    I’m from New Jersey but live in the Midwest. I’ve never participated in an online discussion like this one, but I am looking forward to it. My day to day life is an educational administrator in a large public school district, where I provide staff development for our English as a Second Language program. Life of the Beloved was the first book by Henri Nouwen I ever read, and I am really looking forward to delving into it again because each time I read something written by Henri I am encouraged and blessed.

  4. Bob says:

    Allow me to introduce myself. I am presently living in the Coastal Bend area of Texas. I am called to serve churches who are between ministers. My service includes healing, understanding of identity, and preparing for the future. I have never participated in a book discussion. I anticipate great blessings from our Lord through all who participate. As the angels sang to the glory of God in that field outside Bethlehem, I look forward to hearing in each of you, His messenger/angel, ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth among all.’

  5. Barb B says:

    I am from Detroit Lakes, MN. This is my first experience of sharing online. I am excited to grow in faith during this Advent season.

  6. Christine Smith says:

    Hello. This is my first time to participate in this discussion group though I have participated in other book studies on line. I live in the mid-southern US. I am retired from paid work and spend much time helping in the care of my two grandchildren. I have also recently re-joined a church and am becoming active there. I’ve been studying this book with a small church group and am looking forward to some different perspectives and insights.

  7. Hello, I am looking forward to taking part in this journey. I am in Dublin, Ireland. I work as a pastoral worker in the parishes of Greystones and Kilquade which are in Wicklow, south of Dublin. I have taken part in book discussions previously but not on-line. I have read some of Nouwen’s work but not this one previously. I have read the prologue and found it engaging. I will re-read it now based on your questions for consideration.

  8. Greta says:

    I live in Colorado foothills. I work full-time for an international technology firm. This will be my first book discussion. I have been using Henri’s Lenten devotional the last two years and was delighted to see the advent study. This past year I found the devotional web-site and the daily devotionals are now part of my daily quiet time.

    My desire is to retire in the next 2 years and move into a career that allows me to work on sustainability issues with a focus on social justice. I am currently exploring where that will take me and asking God to lead me on that journey.

  9. Denise says:

    Hello, I am participating from Denver, CO and am looking forward to the Advent discussion of this wonderful Henri Nouwen book. I am a Special Education teacher and the caregiver for my youngest daughter who has Down syndrome.

    What do I really want? Time to focus on the “life of the Spirit” without all the distractions. Henri Nouwen says “Let go of what distracts you, confuses you, and puts in jeopardy the life of the Spirit.”

    My dream/goal has always been to be useful to others. The special education/caregiver road is a useful, yet exhausting road. I would like now to feel a sense of what Henri Nouwen says in this book “..the greatest gift I have to offer is the sense of my own well-being.”

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you Denise for the quote from Henri Nouwen,”Let go of what distracts you, confuses you, and puts in jeopardy the life of the Spirit.” It opened something inside of me.

    • Bonnie J says:

      Great quote from Nouwen. Thanks.

  10. Penny says:

    I am also looking forward to this on-line discussion group. Though I have never participated in an on-line discussion until now. Thanks for selecting this particular book. Oddly enough, I just started reading Nouwen’s books and this was the first one I have read. I currently live in the Midwest (U.S.).

  11. Celeste says:

    This will be my first experience with book sharing online. I have not read any of Henri’s books in their entirety, but have read many quotes and excerpts in the past. I was born and raised in south Louisiana, and remain here still. I have two adult children. My day job is as a secretary for a state government agency. I am active in ministry at my Church parish with RCIA and as a liturgical minister.
    I am looking forward to “waiting” with you all as we journey toward our Lord’s arrival in a few weeks.
    Pax Christi,

  12. Colette Toland says:

    Hello my name is Colette Toland and I came to live in the outskirts of Greystones, County Wicklow (Garden of Ireland) eight years ago having moved from Adelaide-South Australia to work. I feel both secure and fortunate to be living in a habitat of nature’s deeper beauty defined by the Wicklow Mountains and such wonderful coastal scenery as well . I decided to do the advent interactive discussion study of Henri Newen’s Book after spotting this course advertised in our local parish newsletter. By nature I am curious to engage in learning more about my faith; and I would have a preference for the contemplative spirit. I work as a Social Worker with Children and Families. I have always found the church as a great source of support to my spiritual leanings and in developing a healthier lifestyle and more positive outlook than what the secular world would have to offer. The Church has always provided a rock basis which has instilled in me other ways of interacting with and supporting people in crisis where sometimes an alternative way of thinking is needed to be a more effective tool to truly help those who are in need. I too have read the prologue of the book titled Life of the Beloved- which has given me an appetite to study Henri’s work further. I found the early introduction to be an easy read. I liked very much Henri’s genunine connection, generosity of friendship and support offered to Fred-in the beginning of the formation of their relationship. This I would find as being unusual to be so magnanimous so quickly in a relationship which may show here the greater power of the Priest in this case. From his introduction I look forward to delving into and finding out more about Henri’s theological and spiritual orientation which would appear to show an early sign as to how we can encounter others in having an impact to engage more fervently for mutually obtainable benefits and growth in our beloved’s realm.

  13. Dan Lohman says:

    This is my first online book study. I live in Shreveport, Louisiana, my wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary this year. I retired several years ago and have devoted much of my time to outreach work with the poor and homeless in our area. I have read many of Henri’s writings and have visited his beloved L’Arche Daybreak in Toronto in 2005. I look forward to the inspiration that is received by sharing with others on this spiritual journey.

  14. Jane says:

    Hi! My name is Janeand I’m from New England . I am a retired teacher and spend my time volunteering and participating in the lives of my grandchildren. I was introduced to Henri Nouwen’s work by a dear parish priest. I have read many of his books but this will be my first reading Life of the Beloved. I have neverarticipated in an on line discussion group and was intrigued by the idea. I’m hoping to learn from all of you and grow with all of you as well, as we read and comment together. Maybe I’ll even be able to find a new direction . Peace to all and much Joy!

  15. Jean says:

    I am can honestly say this is the first time I am going out of my comfort box. I am very shy when it comes to my walk with Christ. I have not read any of Henri’s books so I am looking forward to learning new things about myself and how others may pensive each chapter. I currently live in Texas, married and have two children that are in their twenties. I work at a middle school and currently dedicate my time running around after a very active 14 year old. I am wanting to be more open and be able to speak about my believes without worrying about what offending someone or not sounding very smart.

  16. Marie Martino says:

    Greetings to All,
    I live near the mountains in North Carolina. I am a retired Director of Faith Formation. My time is spent tending to my husband, who is still working in his profession, as well as our grown children, who now live in other cities, and numerous volunteer activities. Within my church I am deeply involved as a leader in our Adult Faith Enrichment programs. I also coordinate the Eucharistic Ministry for our parishioners who are ill or homebound. In the greater community I deliver meals on wheels. I have a passion for helping adults that English is their second language. I also serve on the Board of Directors and work in the shop of our local Fair Trade store. So like many of you I am pretty busy most of the time. I do all of theses things because I am a believer in Jesus’ calling me as is recorded in Matthew 25: 34-40. Prayer is an ongoing activity. I love to read the daily meditations posted by the Nouwen Society and this book discussion caught my eye. This is my first time involved in an online book discussion. Advent is a time I need to put more effort into reflection. I’m a pretty outgoing and engaging person. My friends often say I don’t know a stranger. Friendship has always been an important part of my life and each of my friends is Beloved. I am intrigued with the prologue of our book. I look forward to our discussions.

  17. Harriet Schneider says:

    HI! I am a retired public librarian and legal assistant and live in Memphis,TN. I am an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church and have been active in it and other community organizations my entire life. This is my first online discussion group and I am looking forward to learning more about one of my favorite authors.

  18. Marsha says:

    My name is Marsha. I live on the Coastal Bend of Texas. I have not participated in a book discussion on-line before. I appreciate Nouwen’s writings and the daily thoughts that come into my email. My husband suggested reading this book and participating in the discussions. I am a retired elementary school teacher, and currently enjoy being free to explore my creative talents and be of service to others.

  19. ann says:

    This is my first book discussion. I have read several Henri Nouwen books and am looking forward to reading Life of the Beloved with others. I am located in Ohio and work as an office manager in a physician office. Looking forward to Advent.

  20. David Walsh says:

    Hello, I am also from Co. Wicklow, Ireland. I am new to Nouwen and to on-line discussion. I am recently bereaved and have a large family and step family. But I am on a lone trek/search in the spiritual area and looking forward to where this venture will take me.

    • Maeve Binder says:

      I haven’t done an introduction yet, just now reading all the comments. Yours touched me, as I was in your situation 7 1/2 years ago when my husband of over 40 years died. It has been a very spiritual journey from grief and mourning into life again. I read many, many books on the subject, along with going to counseling, cherishing friendships, joining new groups, etc. The ONE book that stands out among all the others, the one I would most highly recommend to anyone grieving is that by Henri Nouwen: TURN MY MOURNING INTO DANCING. My copy is written in, highlighted, page corners turned down, and has been read and reread many times. I have purchased copies for friends and I will never hesitate to recommend it. Read it, devour it, live it. Go inside into this very deeply spiritual part of your life, listen to your heart, hear what the Holy Spirit is guiding you to do with your life. Take time to do this, at your own pace. God will bless you and be with on your “new journey”. I know this to be true.

      • David Walsh says:

        Thanks Maeve, I will bear that in mind. I have already been involved in the Breeavement ministry. My group has been a great support.

    • Ray Glennon says:

      I too can wholeheartedly recommend Henri’s, Turn My Mourning Into Dancing. And know that you are never totally alone on your spiritual trek–God is with you even when you may not feel his presence. Thanks for sharing and joining our journey this Advent.

      Peace and all good

  21. Ruth says:

    I am a recent convert (4 years) and am stilling learning much about the Catholic religion. I was active in a protestant church for many years prior to converting and am familiar with Bible studies, but this is the first time participating in an online discussion group. I am not familiar with Henri Nouwen’s writings but am looking forward to learning from this book and discussions wit all of you.

  22. Jinny says:

    I recently moved to Minnesota and live in a Retirement community. I have read many of Henri Nouwen’s books and heard him speak on a couple of occasions. I had not read The Life of the Beloved, but since it came in the mail, I have found it to be just what I need! I have always loved the season of Advent and the spiritual preparation of waiting. I have never participated in a discussion or blog before.

  23. Bob T says:

    I’m Bob and I live in Central New Jersey. I spend my days involved in my business. I try desperately to reserve an hour each morning for reflection that includes reading material of a spiritual nature. I’ve read “Life of the Beloved” twice and look forward to reading it again.
    The last time I participated in a book discussion was 45 years ago in college.

  24. Rachel says:

    I live in the Southwest US. Looking forward to joining in my first online book discussion. I am retired and in need to focus on my spiritual journey. I like that there are questions to help guide me. Some of the introductions have already given me food for thought. This is way out of my comfort zone.

  25. I have been an avid Fr Henri reader for many years. I am of Italian Canadian background, living in Guelph, Ontario, just west of Toronto. I have read LOTB several times. It is such a foundational truth and I also have it in audible format with Fr Henri’s own voice. Several times a year I re listen and it’s like ‘medicine’ for me.

    I am also a devotee of Soren Kierkegaard. Many have likened Henri as a modern day Kierkegaard, only Henri is easier to understand.

    I love Henri’s ‘approach’ to Fred. He communicates that we live in a ‘you and me world’ rather than ‘you or me’ world.

    Looking forward to this online Adventjourney.

  26. Joyce Eads says:

    It is exciting to be part of an online book discussion with Christians from all over the world. I live just outside Columbia, Missouri. Retired from the ministry I still supply preach, do retreats and spiritual direction. Volunteer in my church and local school for I use to teach before entering the ministry. Love being involved with my grandchildren. Am a devoted Henri Nouwen fan. Look forward to stimulating conversations and continuing to grow in my faith. One is naturally drawn to Henri Nouwen’s heart because he seeks to embrace God’s unconditonal love and thus, this acceptance spills over onto others.

  27. Dave Glenn says:

    Hey Group,
    We live, probably not too far from Bob, in a small town outside of Houston, Texas. I work as an engineering designer in the oil and gas industry, and spend free time mowing grass and case management counseling at a near by faith-based state prison unit.
    This is a first for me, but like yawl, I have had a life of Bible studies, small groups and house churches, reading and talking over coffee or cake, listening for what the Lord might have to say and praying that I have the ears to hear.
    So, let’s get on with it!
    Advent, what better time for an adventure!

  28. Todd G says:


    Also a first timer here for on-line book discussion. I am a big Henri Nouwen fan and have read “Blessed” in the past, but so looking forward to re-reading and gaining insight from all of you. I am married for 20-some years and have 2 teenagers in the house (I will treasure the quiet moments reflecting with you:)

    I am a teacher of High School special needs kids- which I guess is why I identify with Henri Nouwen- love his writing on L’Arche and the beauty of people with disabilities.
    Looking foward to this Advent journey. Peace,

  29. Diane D says:

    Hi! I live on the flat plains of the Texas panhandle –

    Have been a fan of Henri Nouwen for quite some time. I’ve read a few of his books but not all. This is the first group discussion, or book discussion, that I’ve been involved with – so I’m really looking forward to that.

    Regarding the discussion questions – I am not sure I have found the passion or purpose that God has for me yet, although I am well into my 50′s and probably should have some idea by now of what that would be. For many years I spent my time doing what my family needed for me to do for them, but now that they are grown I think it is time for me to turn to God and figure out where He wants me, or can use me. I admire Henri for being where God wanted him to be, and for trying to help Fred and his friends figure out what it’s about.

    I look forward to reading the rest of the book and seeing how this unfolds. And to getting to know everyone else here a little better too and hearing your thoughts and insights from the book!

  30. I will respond to the first set of questions as my copy of the book just arrived last night and I have not read the prologue yet. I will get to it tomorrow.

    My name is Jedidiah Slaboda. I live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a small city two hours West of Philadelphia. I am the pastor of a church in Harrisburg where God and I have a wife and two young children. I hope that what I do is a reflection of my deepest desire–to live a life of love. Of course most days it seems much less exalted than that. I do what I do because I am responsible to these people and these people matter to me.

    I am joining this group for the first time. In fact, this is the first of Nouwen’s books I will have read. I appreciate the opportunity to do it with some fellow readers.

    • Bob says:

      I look forward to hearing how the Spirit will be working in you through this, for I was once at the same point of life with the same feelings you have. Your words bring back fond memories to me. God was good, God is good, God will always be good!

  31. Julia says:

    Hi. I live in Houston and am a wife, mother of two teenagers (one in high school and one in college), a part-time preschool teacher and a spiritual director on staff at our neighboring retreat center. I have never participated in anything like this so am looking forward to it. Thank you and blessings!

  32. Brian Fields says:

    I live in Virginia and work in Human Resources for a Christian organization. This is my first online discussion group! I was first exposed to Nouwen through The Spirituality of Fundraising. It was very enlightening. I’m very much looking forward to this book, discussion and Advent!

  33. Julie says:

    Hi all. This is my first online book discussion, and will be my first time through this particular book. I am from the Midwest but live in Los Angeles where I work in the music and film industry. Life out here is fast-paced and I find that Nouwen’s teachings are always timely and profound as I try to navigate a spiritual life in a city that doesn’t make room for much. Looking forward to this study.

  34. Ellen says:

    I live in the Midwest and work part time as a client educator at a crisis pregnancy center.

    I had never heard of Henri Nouwen or of any of his books or writings until last year. At that time, I felt I was in need of a spiritual director (Catholic priest) here in the Midwest to guide me on my journey of prayer, etc. Being disappointed in my search, a friend who is a protestant minister, suggested I read books written by Henri Nouwen. At first I checked them out from the library but now I have my “own library.” Every one of his books have been inspirational to me. “Life of the Beloved” is one of my favorites and I am excited to read this book again and to participate in this book discussion.

  35. Kayla Campbell says:

    Isn’t amazing to see God’s people unite from all the corners of his creations? This will surely be an engaging study and for myself, I’m searching for God’s purpose in my life as I’ve recently been forced towards a new career path. Nice to meet all of you!

  36. Chuck N. says:

    Greetings! My name is Chuck and I reside in Northwest Arizona, USA. I spend my days working with children as an assistant principal at a K-5 school. So every day is a good day for me. I have participated in two of these discussions, and have enjoyed them both. I missed the last one due to some time constraints, but am determined to see this one through. I read this book about two years ago, and am looking forward to this discussion. I already like the approach the discussion is taking with the questions posted for us to consider, specifically, view this as Henri Nouwen speaking to us, and not just Fred. Thanks for doing this again. I am looking forward to it!

  37. Cindy says:

    I am looking forward to the reading and sharing during the Advent Season. My friend shared this website with me and gave me the book as a gift. She is such a blessing in my life and I know we will both grow in our faith the next few weeks.

  38. Mary D. says:

    * Montana Native
    *Soon to be 60
    *Cradle Catholic who has always sought to further my spiritual growth
    *Sacristan and Eucharistic Minister/Family Promise Volunteer in my parish
    *Wife of almost 40 years to my high school love
    *Mother of 5
    *Grandmother of 5
    *Sister of 73 yr old disabled man
    *First year of retirement after teaching kindergarten for 27 years!

    As my life has evolved I have done my best to keep my spiritual focus. I am satisfied with my 59 years but as I look to my days of retirement ahead, I want to open myself to new paths with God’s guidance. I hope to be a catalyst to Christ in my community and family in small, quiet ways. Last night I read the preface and felt a resonance in my heart. I am excited to see how Henri approaches this task. Perhaps I will gain insight into how I too can put my spiritual essence into words to clarify my own journey and pass it to others.

  39. Barbara H says:

    Thank you for this! I live in southern Wisconsin and dedicate my days to my loved ones and my God (and perhaps too much to the “almighty dollar”) in the form of a mixture of office work, pottery creation, home and garden chores, etc. This will be my second book discussion.

    Before reading the prologue (knowing nothing of the book), I was thinking about how most of the people in the past discussion group were in “active” ministry and I am not, and the material will likely speak to the situation of those in ministry more than mine. My ministry field currently is full-time office workers who live numb and unfulfilled lives. I work in a city office and my co-workers are mostly women with working husbands and children in day care for 9-10 hours a day, who do not like their jobs but believe they have no choices. (I work there part-time.)

    So imagine my surprise when I read the prologue. I have often imagined being able to offer my co-workers a “way out” as Henri did to his new friend. I am hoping to be able to share this material with some of them!

    My desire is to live a creative life which is useful to others, and to spread divine light, hope and joy into this dark world. Whether I have met with success depends on the day. My part-time business of creating pottery allows my creativity to flow and to share with others, and I am immensely grateful for that. Fear (of failure, success, rejection and “doing the wrong thing”) holds me back from my full potential.

    I’m very much looking forward to this book and discussion.

  40. Judy says:

    Hi all, I am Judy and I live in northwest AZ. I am retired from a center for equine-assisted therapy for kids with disabilities. I am also bereaved (my therapy animals and my life partner). I live alone in the semi-wilds writing a book and growing in two kinds of spiritual contemplation (the Jesus Prayer and Passage Meditation). I have been in several online discussion groups, and I learned about this one from Sr. Joan Chittister’s Monastery of the Heart ( ). I was first drawn to Henri Nouwen because of his concept of the postmodern “nuclear man,” which I had earlier read of in the work of Jurgen Moltmann. (It is fascinating to learn that we have a participant from Fukushima.) On a positive note, I am finding that immersion in spiritual reading and contemplation is balancing my vicarious trauma over our broken world. I feel that Henri Nouwen has a great deal to offer on that struggle! So glad to be here in this blessed gathering.

  41. Kathy says:

    I am participating from Wisconsin. I am a former paralegal. I have 3 kids ranging from 6th grade to Senior in high school. I am currently unemployed after being the main caregiver for my father who passed away from cancer in 12/12. I have never participated in an online book discussion before. I have never read anything by Nouwen before. I found your website while googling the quote our FF coordinator had on the bottom of her e-mails/memos. I have read the prologue and I’m hopeful that the book, and also your comments, will help me find ways to better communicate about the Faith to family and friends.

  42. Trayce Cox says:

    Blessings to all of this wonderful group! I have loved Nouwen’s writing since my parish priest gave me a copy of, THE GENESSE DIARY, shortly after joining the church in the early ’80s. I live in Kansas City Missouri USA. I lived in Columbia, MO for over 20 years, so a big hello to Joyce. I have been a preschool teacher, head start director and a director of religious education. My last job was an elementary school teacher. I felt that I was serving God in all those areas,but now that I am on permanent disability, I feel lost as to where I am and who I am. At 53 years of age, it is not where I thought I would be. But God has his plans… This is the first on line book study I have done. I like the idea of having an open mind, a beginner’s mind. In the rule of St. Benedict that means no matter how many times you have wondered always are beginning again. I know that is how I feel and sensed that in the intro of the book. Henri is beginning again, wondering how to explain what lies in his very core to another who’s life experience is very different. Advent is about beginning again too. Beginning to hear the story of the child who became the Christ and retelling that story in a new way, to the person we are now, different than last year, a person whose life experience is now very different. How do we explain the core of our faith to who we are now. How do we begin again?

    • Joyce Eads says:

      Hi Trayce, We are neighbors only 2 hrs. apart. I live in Centralia-North of Columbia. Praise God for New Beginnings in our lives. Even though I am retired I continue to experience new facets of our Spiritual Journey. Lived here only a year. My youngest daughter is here. Moved from Jackson, TN where my other daughter is. Not a Southern native. Will go for now. The study will be truly enlightening. God’s Peace, Joyce

  43. Martha Donnadieu says:

    Hello! My name is Martha and I live in Guadalajara , Mexico . I participated before in the analysis of the book “Here and Now” . I was impressed by one of the leading questions of this discussion: “Imagine that you are sitting in front of Henri Nouwen and he asks you to search your heart to find out what you really want.” I consider Henri Nouwen as my spiritual director and a very dear friend who has accompanied me with his words and wisdom for a long time . In Mexico in November we celebrate the tradition of the Day of the Dead and we usually elaborate home altars dedicated to people very special to our hearts. My altar was dedicated to Henri Nouwen and in this experience I discovered many new things about him that will help me and my family to grow at a human and spiritual level. I am a mother of three teenagers and an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. The contact with sick people has opened me to true compassion, a concept always present in Henri´s words and actions.
    What do I really want? I would say to Henri :- I want to live the first commandment : To love God with all my heart, my mind and my soul, and found Him in every person in my life. I want to open my home and my heart to love with a sense of hospitality. I want to share the good news of Jesus and bring new hope to my community. I want to live in constant prayer in the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus.-
    Something that impressed me the last time I participated in this group discussion were the words of a woman who mentioned that during all the time of the study of the book she was going to pray for each one of the participants . I loved that commitment and in this moment I will follow her example.

    • Lisa. Sciacca says:

      Thank you Martha! I’ll follow your example, and commit to that same practice of lifting up in prayer our fellow travelers on this road!

    • Lisa Sciacca says:

      Thanks Martha! I appreciate the prayers and will add mine to yours, for all of us who are sharing this journey.

    • Joyce Eads says:

      Yes Amen Martha-praying for one another as we study is a joy. Joyce

    • Martha Donnadieu says:

      Hi Lisa and Joyce:
      In my favorite book of Henri Nouwen, “Reaching Out”, he spoke about the importance of a praying community. Let´s continue in constant prayer for each other and for embracing the love of God in our lives as a result of the sharing of this book. Thank you for your answer.

  44. Celia says:

    Hello. Last year I retired from my job as an engineer and moved from Southern California to Whidbey Island in Washington state. So this past year has been one of great change. As I begin my “Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life” (another excellent book I am currently reading!) I am dedicated to charting a course for myself that is both introspective and outwardly engaged with my family and community. I was introduced to Henri Nouwen last Lent through a pamphlet of daily devotionals that was distributed by my parish and I subsequently signed up for the daily meditations on e-mail which I enjoy very much. I have never participated in a book discussion before, either in person or on-line and am looking forward to it. I checked the book out of the library and read it all, but had to return it as there were holds from other patrons (maybe some other islanders will be participating in these discussions!!). However I am sure I have retained the essence of the text and will be able to fully participate in the discussions. Happy Advent season to all!

  45. Janet McDonald says:

    Hello.I live near Canterbury, Kent in the UK. I am married and have 3 daughters, the youngest of whom has just gone to University. So we are in a new phase of having no children at home! I am a Music Therapist and a Spiritual director – I recently did a course to enable me to accompany people through the Ignatian Exercises. I love doing this work – I find it amazing to share in peoples’ walk with God. I was drawn to the L’Arche community through reading Henri’s writings years ago, and so am involved in L’Arche Kent, with my Music Therapy.
    This is also my first online book discussion so not quite sure what to expect. Exciting that there are people from all over the world!

  46. Sally-Ann Timbrell says:

    Hello . My name is Sally-Ann and I live in a small village in neutral Herefordshire, England. Having retired from a career in education a few years ago Following bereavement, I have been on a journey with God discovering what my ‘new and different’ life is to be. To say it has been an adventure is an understatement. It has been both dynamic and challenging in equal measure.

    I spend much of my time in community with a wide range of people, some of whom are close friends, others who are less so but for whom relational living is vital. Alongside that I have seven young adults (my children) who are my joy and delight. Involvement in my church community as well as local community largely fills my time…nicely offset by a 2 year old Border Collie called Mr. Milo.

    We have just completed a 3500 mile journey to the Outer Hebrides and back. This was not only an adventure but also a deeply spiritual journey as I lived out Jeremiah 6:16 ‘stand in the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths , where the good way is, and walk in it. Then you will find rest for your souls.’ I spent 8 incredible weeks learning to be in companionship with God. To stand at the the crossroads and look, to ask for the ancient paths and to follow them…. And indeed found ‘rest’ for my soul. I have just completed writing the book of the adventure.

    I joined in the Advent discussion last year but was unable to sustain commitment to it…hopefully this year will be different. I enjoyed reading the book and the contributions made.

    I have read and re-read the Prologue. And looking beyond just the introduction of Henri and Fred’s friendship, I can recognise the potential they saw in each other to draw each other to a place of enrichment and change. They seem to be prepared to not only ask questions but to live the questions of life.

    Abandonment has been a major characteristic of my life – from early childhood. Separation and bereavement have featured in my life with monotonous regularity. And throughout all of these tough times I have learned (and am still learning) what it means for God to be my all-sufficient. And in developing this realisation and confident hope I have come to know that. I have never been abandoned by my Father.

    From the place of pain and sadness, I long for the fulfilment of being everything God intended me to be. Nothing less will do. And so I continue the journey. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, companions, and very often with strangers. All caught up in this mysterious and wonderful walk with God.

  47. Anne Burke says:

    I live in Long Island, NY and am recently retired This is my first book discussion and am looking forward to it. I read many of Nouwen’s books and meditations, including “Life of the Beloved”. But now I’m reading with new eyes. Thank you for this opportunity.

  48. Judy says:

    Sorry, I meant to say northeast AZ (the White Mts.)


  49. Lisa S. says:

    Hello! I am writing from Massachusetts, as a first time participant in an online book group discussion. I felt pulled to join because, over the years Henri Nouwen’s writings have touched my heart. I have ministered as a director of religious education and youth minister for about 30 years, and still carry in my calendar portfolio my tattered copy of “With Open Hands” that I read for the first time at the start of that ministry! Every time I open that book and read a passage, it touches me in a new way! I read Beloved many years ago and it didn’t have that same impact. But when I picked it up last week in preparation for this, I read it with new eyes. I’m sure the invitation to join all of you is an opportunity to grow in faith and I’m all in!
    Thanks everyone!

  50. Charles Vella says:

    Good Evening All,
    I am Charles , happily married and a proud father of an adopted son all the way from Brazil. Retired after working in various fields and today I am retired ( thks GOD)
    By the way I hail from the little island called `MALTA` right in the heart of the Mediterranean and St Paul was responsible for our conversion to Christianity.
    This is the first time that am taking part on an online discussion . Henri Nouven is one of my favourite spiritual writers, his books are down to earth and the reason that I am attached to Fr Henri is his long association with the home of L’ARCHE. My son is 24 yrs old and he is an AUTISTIC; he needs constant care and so most of my time is spent with my BELOVED SON.
    This book is AWESOME and thanks GOD that I am going to reflect for the ADVENT.
    Shalom to ALL

  51. Charles Vella says:

    I am Charles , happily married and a proud father of an adopted son all the way from Brazil. Retired after working in various fiels and today I am retired ( thks GOD)
    By the way I hail from the little island called ` MALTA` right in the heart of the Mediterranean and St Paul was resposible for our conversion to Christianity.
    This is the first time that am taking part on an online discussion . Henry Nouven is one of my favourite spiritual writers, his books are down to earth and the reason that I am attached to Fr Henry is his long association with the home of ARCHE. My son is 24 yrs old and he is an AUTISTIC,he needs constant care and so most of my time is spent with my BELOVED SON.
    This book is AWESOME and thanks GOD that I am going to reflect for the ADVENT.
    Shalom to ALL

  52. Penny says:

    I have been reflecting on the second set of questions as I read the prologue. I don’t think I have ever really had a clearly defined passion/purpose. (which makes me sad/anxious sometimes) What I find intriguing is that Fred had the “want” and then had opportunity to write but did not write the novel during that time. It just gave me hope/comfort. Even if we know (or don’t know) what we want, God is still working with us and putting us where He knows we need to be. The outcome may not be what we had envisioned.

    • Silvana says:

      Hi Penny,

      I can relate to what you said about not having a clearly defined passion/purpose. We live in a world where people are often defined by what they do, and for some this carries throughout their lives. However, for others, like myself, there are different phases. I am currently in-between phases. I spent the last 18 years of my life as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. I was very happy doing this and absolutely felt like that was my passion and purpose for all of those years. While my family is still my priority, now that my kids are moving on and need less from me time wise, I find myself wondering what I should be doing next…just what is it that God has planned for phase 2. So, I wait and try to just take each day as it comes while seeking to do what appear to be “little things,” yet perhaps are really big things if done in a spirit of love for God and others.
      I like your perspective…”Even if we know (or don’t know) what we want, God is still working with us and putting us where He knows we need to be. The outcome may not be what we had envisioned.” Thank you, this is what caught my attention when reading your comment!

  53. Maeve Binder says:

    I live in the deep south in a very peaceful location. I was widowed 7 1/2 years ago and thus began a deeply spiritual journey to find my new path in life. Henri Nouwen has been a great part of that journey, as his books have enriched my life greatly. “Turn My Mourning into Dancing” is one I always recommend to those newly bereaved, or those “stuck” in the process. It is an amazing book, one I go back to time and time again. I have joined discussions previously, but it seems I never get time enough to comment regularly. I do keep busy with those activities that are passions in my life. I am on the board of a free medical clinic that serves many people who live below the 100% poverty line. I love my church and parish, and I have been a member of the social justice ministry. I am very much a social justice person. I am a huge Nouwen and Merton fan. I am also a “fan” of our wonderful Pope Francis. What an example of faith and humility he is for the entire world! I hope to come back here often during Advent to follow comments and occasionally offer my own.

    • Bob says:

      I am a Protestant minister who has been greatly enriched spiritually listening to my Catholic brothers and sisters share their faith journey. I look forward to your ‘frequent returns’.

  54. Sharon says:

    My name is Sharon and I am a fan of Henri Nouwen’s writings also. The daily meditations that come on my computer are always inspirational to me and give me constant guidance. It has been a pleasure to participate in quite a few of these book sharings so far and I look forward especially to this one. Although my 30 year old daughter was raised in church, for quite a few years she has been a person who doesn’t see the immediancy of worship, not even Christmas and Easter, in her life. Now, next June she and her fiancée are getting married and the person who will officiate is one who does weddings of all sorts–secular, religious, heterosexual, same-sex, and what he does is request that the two people write what they would like in their wedding ceremony and then they all work from that. The chaplain’s blog has references and one of the references states that the married couple had religious and also non-religious people attending and no one was offended or uncomfortable. I think that’s why my daughter and her fiancée chose this chaplain to marry them. Most of my husband’s family and my family are not observant–my mother-in-law is the most religious. What Henri Nouwen writes in the beginning of this book is exactly the kind of situation we are facing in our family and I look forward to reading the rest of the book and the sharing on this blog. It’s a different time now than when there was a packed church on every corner in the neighborhood and it takes a considerable amount of praying and caring and hoping–to keep positive about it all and believe things will work out in the long run. I tell myself that perhaps, when the tide turns, and many people who were alienated from church return to church, that the Church will be stronger and more resilient than it ever was and be more of a catalyst to help solve some of these growing problems of poverty and hunger in this tired old world. Must see what happens between Henri and Fred.

  55. Anne McElheron says:

    My name is Anne McElheron; I live in Greystones, beside the Irish Sea. I was a teacher for 35 years and worked in a library for some years after my retirement but now I am fully retired. Belief in God is essential to my life but I have to wonder how central it is. My days are very busy and my grown up children seem to occupy most of my thoughts! My spiritual life has always been in my head and I would really love to bring it into my heart. I found the Prologue very encouraging and look forward to reading on.

  56. Bob says:

    As I stay with the prologue and reread it, I feel the Spirit of God moving. Moving where is unknown but movement is good. “Fear not!” is the mandate when the Spirit is moving. Though the world throws into our face all kinds of fears as it did with Fred and even Henri, all is well from a heavenly perspective. Ah, the peace that passes understanding which can also be said as ‘the peace the world doesn’t get’.

  57. Meg says:

    This will be my first time following a study like this. I look forward to this focus on spiritual growth during advent. Don’t know how often I will be writing but looking forward to it all the same. I live in Alberta Canada with family in school.

  58. Marianne says:

    I’m looking forward to another advent book study. These have helped me de-stress my Christmas Season. I live in Western Canada. I devote my time to my family – hosting extended fanily gatherings because we are centrally located between both families, and to my parents who live nearby. I have an excellent job in employee training which requires travel.

    When I was younger, I had a burning urge to take the Gospel abroad. When that was not to be, I was extremely disappointed, but the blessings of children and then some chronic illnesses proved enough for me to deal with on a daily basis! My dream/passion/purpose has become a bit less ambitious, but possibly just changed to more realistic with age. Now my purpose has to do more with myself – loving myslef, being a loving, healthy person, encouraging those I know and meet to love themselves and do the same. I did have the opportunity to do some 10 day missions to Central America and was completely blessed by the people there. I found more “gospel” there than you would find at home on a given day.

    I have not yet received my book and my answer will probably change after I read the Prologue.

  59. Maria Christina Antao says:

    Greetings! My name is Maria Christina and I am from India though presently living in Hong Kong as my husband works here. We have come full circle with our children grown and studying in Boston and New York City. I have been a stay at home mom as my husband used to sail before. Studying Counselling and Guidance after my children went into University and Secondary school and working as a school counsellor when in India helped me realize my God given talents. In Hong Kong I do volunteer work which I find very fulfilling. A little more than a year ago, a dear friend introduced me to Henri Nouwen’s “Inner Voice of Love” which touched my heart deeply and thus began my journey with Henri Nouwen. I have quite a few of his books and enjoy reading and learning from them. I have not read “Life of the Beloved” and look forward to reading it during this Advent season. It is my first time for an online book discussion and also the first time I join you’ll.
    What do I really want? To deepen my faith and grow closer to God as I get older. To thank God for who HE created me to be – a loving, caring and compassionate person. To be part of a community reaching out in loving concern. I do believe and feel I am loved by God as Isaiah 43:1-5 and Isaiah 49:15-16 has been and is an echo of God’s voice in my heart.
    Going to mass each evening, reading the scripture, reading the daily meditation from the Henri Nouwen Society as well as the explanations of the readings online on Sacred Space and in the Living Faith help me in my daily prayer to come closer to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

  60. Hilary says:

    My name is Hilary and I teach school in the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada. I am looking forward to spending time reading and thinking about Henri Nouwen’s words.
    In addition, I look forward to being part of the group. This is the first time I have done an online group.

  61. Christine says:

    I’m at the stage in life when I try not to worry about those things I didn’t do. The office job within a corporation I held before retirement was not necessarily a fulfillment of a dream. It was, however, a necessary step for me at the time to realize that, yes, I could support myself and provide for my family in the secular world. In that sense it was a choice made “according to (my) own best aspirations” as Henri described in his early discussion with Fred. I suppose the hours I put in did hold me back from pursuing activities that may have been closer to my heart, but those working years are part of my history. They are part of who I am and cannot be undone or redone. The “past is passed” as the saying goes.

    The sudden death of one of my sons at age 31 about five years ago was an event that shattered my complacency about my work at the time. It made me question just about everything. Eventually that and some other distressing life events led to my decision to take an earlier than usual retirement. I felt at that time that I simply had to unravel the meaning and purpose of my walk on life’s path.

    So, now, a little over two years into this life stage, I am still trying to answer those questions about passion and purpose that Henri posed to Fred – and Fred seemed to pose back to Henri when he asked him to write about “the deepest yearnings of our hearts.” I feel very much like a “fellow-traveler searching for life, light, and truth.”

    One thing I have learned about this search is that it is in a very real sense a journey. I’ve taken many steps and have many more to take. I am trying hard to appreciate and learn and grow with each step and I am happy to walk side by side with others on similar journeys.

  62. Mary says:

    I purchased Life of the Beloved and Bread for the Journey at a Cursillo retreat just last month and then discovered that Life of the Beloved was chosen for this book discussion. It seems that God has planned for me to be here :-) This is the first book that I’ve read by Henri Nouwen and I am looking forward to celebrating Advent with all of you. I am grateful to God for leading me to this spiritual group. I am grateful to God for leading me to the Cursillo retreat where my faith was moved to the center of my heart.

    Praying for peace on earth,

  63. Mark says:

    This is a first for me for any online book discussion. I reside in Southern California and have read several of Henri Nouwen’s books over the years and decided to try this method out to share Advent in “cyber community.” I have lived in the Rochester New York area in the past and visited the Abbey on the Genesee where Henri subsequently visited and wrote his Genesee Diaries. I never got around to visiting the L’Arche community in Toronto, though.

    I’ve have also read quite a bit of Thomas Merton and to me Thomas and Henri compliment each other.

    Looking forward to posting when I can,

    Peace and joy to all on our our faith journeys,


  64. Nancy T says:

    Hello from Montana,
    I have just returned from celebrating my 70th birthday following the footsteps of St Francis and St Clare in Assisi, Italy. I am awed and humbled by their passion and commitment to live as Jesus in time not unlike our own. I do not have such a passionate love for Jesus and yet seek to follow Him. I am challenged to examine my own priorities and obstacles.
    I have struggled with accepting/knowing that God really loves me and I do not have to earn His love. Thus I have not been able to fully love Him, myself and others. As the mother of 4 grown sons I know how I love them no matter so it is strange that I do not trust that God loves me unconditionally.
    I have read many of Henri’s works and participated in previous book discussions on line.
    I believe this discussion is perfectly timed and look forward to walking the journey with you.
    Peace and blessings,

  65. Caroline from Virginia says:

    I have three precious friends with whom love and laughter surrounds our time together as sisters in Christ Jesus. This invitation to be a part of an Advent study is special because it will be one more way to be close to these three women, though there are miles and responsibilities that separate us physically. I pray that the Holy Spirit will enlightened all of our spiritual journeys. Thank you.

  66. Brynn Lawrence says:

    I am overwhelmed with gratitude for each of you. Thank you for the small peek into your world, and for your willingness to be present and share of yourselves in this Advent journey.

    This is, I believe, the ninth discussion I’ve participated in! Henri never fails to give us rich food for thought, and the reflections each of you share truly make these discussions remarkable.

    Since 2009 I’ve been working on the Nouwen Archive Letter Project, which gives me the opportunity to connect with many of Henri’s friends and colleagues around the world. It always amazes me how his life of love and ministry touched so many. My work on the Letter Project is now part time, which has given me the opportunity to pursue one of my other passions in life – I am also a Strategic Intervention Life Coach. I feel God has given me this incredible opportunity to assist others in discovering the life of abundance Jesus came to give them. Last, but not least, I’m a fairly new wife with much to learn, and I always want to make my husband my first priority (well, second only to Jesus :)

    Looking forward to reading more introductions today and tomorrow, and to jumping into the book starting on Sunday!

  67. Rebecca S. says:

    First time in an online book discussion, though I’ve done a few face-to-face ones. I’m relatively new to Nouwen, have only read one other book, which I loved, and really valued the group discussion as I read. It takes me some time to process his writing.

    I’m a first-time mom, home alone with baby, who is now 8 weeks old. I love being with him, and the solitude, but now that I’m slightly less sleep deprived, I need some adult interaction. :-)

    Look forward to reading during nursing sessions, and in moments like now, when it seems the only place he’ll sleep is on my tummy.

    Book arrived minutes ago. Going to read now!

  68. Melanie says:

    Hi all,
    I reside in a community 30 miles NW of Houston, TX. My sister Denise (who is also a participant in this discussion) has inspired me to read this book! I am an avid reader and am always interested in learning more about who we are, why we are here, etc. I am currently finishing Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth” and am expecting my Henri Nouwen book to arrive in the mail in the next day or so. I am a Registered Nurse and work in my local community hospital. I realize that I must carry out my tasks as a nurse but I cannot, in fact, help others “heal”. I believe that must come from each individual. I am also very interested in Animal Assisted Therapy and am currently training my dog Liam to be a Pet Partners therapy dog. This in my first online book discussion and I am looking forward to spending time here.

  69. Rebecca S. says:

    Now that I’ve read the prologue and questions, I’m even more excited.

    What do I really want?…to touch lives, to be a friend and journey with others, especially those who have known brokenness as I have known it. In my work, I teach English to immigrants from many countries, but my passion is not grammar or communicative strategies. What I love is seeing my students find hope, and help, in their lonely struggle to adapt to a new culture, provide for their families, and find new dreams to pursue. “Speak to us about the deepest yearning of our hearts,…speak to us about God.”–I think this is what I really want to do for them, and for others in my life also.

    This little baby on my lap is a major life change; I look forward to seeing God lead me in new ways of fulfilling the desires He puts in my heart.

  70. I live in Co Wicklow, Ireland. I am a retired teacher. Since my retirement I have been involved in various voluntary activities. I have read several of Henri Nouwen’s books. I found them to be enriching. My faith is important to me. The Prologue to this book holds many interesting and searching thoughts which I look forward to exploring in this book. I am new to online discussions.

  71. jan greene says:

    Just to introduce myself as the group begins to read Life of the Beloved. We live on Cape Cod having retired from busy lives in NY. Now, to my amazement I have been back at work in a mental health clinic for 8 years. What a spiritual journey serving poor folks who work hard to make it and teach me how to live gently and listen with no judgement at all. I was in a prayer group in NY and we read Henri often and organized retreats in our Episcopal church around his themes and presence with the poor and in our modern world. I look forward to sharing with other members and growing together! jan

  72. Ray Glennon says:

    Hi, everyone. I’m Ray Glennon from Columbia, Maryland (between Baltimore and Washington, just west of I-95). And it’s a joy to be able to spend a small part of my 63rd birthday with each of you in our virtual discussion. My wife and I have seven children in our combined family (ranging in age from 39 to 19) and three grandsons. We are both Catholics and are active in the our parish (Confirmation small group leaders, Eucharistic ministers, and I lector) and a Catholic Charismatic covenant community. And we are both still employed full-time in project management roles–me for a contractor working with the Federal Aviation Administration and my wife on information technology projects.

    I have been participating in the Henri Nouwen book discussions since at least 2010 and the start of a new discussion is something that I eagerly look forward to each Advent and Lent. Brynn, the moderator for this discussion, has led all of the other ones I have joined. For those of you that are joining this group for the first time, you will find her questions and comments both thought provoking and inspirational.

    I have been a fan-disciple-spiritual follower of Henri Nouwen for at more than a decade and he has been an important guide on my journey of faith. I found his Return of the Prodigal Son, for sale on a table outside the Catholic cathedral in Singapore at a time that I really needed to read that book–I’m sure it was a Divine appointment. I have read Life of the Beloved at least twice in the past and I am looking forward to doing so again and sharing the experience with the group.

    Rereading Henri’s books with a group helps me to come to a deeper understanding than I achieved when reading the same book on my own. This is immediately apparent to me in the Prologue where I can read Henri’s question to Fred as questions that I am asking myself as I am in the later stage of my professional life. There are times at work I feel indifference and I would hope that Henri could say to me, “I sensed…a spirit fully alive–eager to learn and to create.” And how many of you (like me) have felt like Fred when he said, “You have to make a living. I should be happy to have at least this to do.” And Henri’s reaction was telling; he heard both anger and resentment–things that I can identify with at times at work as well. One final observation: Henri recognized that “…our meeting could not just be accidental.” And we, the readers of this wonderful book, are the real beneficiaries of Fred’s initial appointment with Henri.

    May God give you peace. (St. Francis of Assisi’s greeting and pray to those he met.)

    • Maeve Binder says:

      “Return of the Prodigal Son” is such an amazing, inspirational work by Nouwen. My copy has the beautiful painting by Rembrandt of the “Return of the Prodigal Son”, the perfect picture for the cover. The spiritual insight within this book is so deep and makes it a book I return to over and over and over. I believe the book and the lesson is as much the story of the elder son as it is the prodigal son. The elderly son had difficulty in loving himself. He had a blind spot in his eyes and heart – he could see the faults of his brother, but he didn’t see the unconditional love of his father who was so willing to forgive both of his sons. The elder son chose to reject the greatest treasure of all – his father’s merciful love. Thus, we relate this story to our own lives and God’s message of abundant mercy and forgiveness. This book is such a treasure and it brings home the lesson that Jesus is always loving us, always waiting for us, no matter what, no matter when. His arms are open and waiting and ready to embrace us with all His tender love. What a gift!!!!!!!!

  73. Larry H. says:

    Today, I was going through my old emails and saw that I had forgotten about this book discussion. :-( Tonight I ordered my copy of the book and hopefully will get it at the beginning of next week. Failing to last 3 weeks in the only online book discussion group that I had tried previously, I was looking forward to this discussion group of a book by one of my favorite authors.
    For over 42 years, we have lived in eastern Tennessee; we have reared two daughters who have provided us with 10 grandkids and 3 great-grandkids. I retired from being a university professor 11 years ago and celebrated my retirement by participating with my wife in a Stephen Ministry program at a local hospital and hospitality house. It was at this time I was introduced to Nouwen with the reading of “The Wounded Healer.”
    When my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, I found that I had been provided the necessary experiences to be a caregiver. With her 5 operations (including a double mastectomy) in 2 months, my focus was on her. Praise God, she has been cancer-free for over 3 years now. However, she has experienced other difficulties which has included 2 more operations.
    In June 2011, my father suffered a stroke in Florida. We were not pleased with his treatment in the rehab facility; we moved him to our house and took care of him with the help of home health care. His last 2 months were spent with family; he loved especially being with his great-grandkids and great-great-grandson. My wife and I, who became very familiar with the work of a CNA, were blessed by the experiences.
    When I was a professor, I liked to go to professional meetings to get “recharged”; I look forward to this book discussion as a “spiritual recharging.”

  74. Liz says:

    I am Liz and I live in Sydney, Australia. While I have participated in other online spirituality courses this is the first Nouwen book discussion group I have joined. I am forever amazed and delighted at how the daily Nouwen reflection touches me. So often the selection for a particular day is just what I need to hear. So on one level it was not surprise at all, but on another a delightful surprise to discover the title of the book chosen for this advent reflection- The Life of the Beloved because seeing first myself as the Beloved, then seeing the other as the Beloved has been incredibly significant in recent years and it lead me to prison ministry. So I am looking forward to these weeks ahead in which I along with many others from around the world will reflect upon the graces that Nouwen’s insights will bestow upon us and stir within us.

  75. Bob says:

    I sat with the ending of the prologue this AM. I could identify with Fred’s wish for someone to show him love, to show him God. I can remember being in a similar place in life when I was a teen. I so longed for someone to show me God but all I was getting was how to be religious. (Of course, it very well may have been I was being shown God but was not open to the fullness of God, a strange mixture of both I am sure.) As I reread the final part of the prologue, I was struck by how they exchanged roles from the initial encounter. What Henri was to Fred, now Fred was to Henri. The sentence I am left to think about today was when Fred said to Henri, ‘those who need you most will help you most’. How often when someone is helping another, there can often be a sense of superiority in the mix, sometimes by the helper and sometimes by the one being helped. When we love one another and reach out to help one another in a time of need, both are in need and neither is ever superior to the other. In the Kingdom of God there is no such thing as superiority.

  76. Amy Catherine Adams says:

    Good Morning! I am so glad to return to another of the on-line retreats. This is my third, and I have been waiting (patiently) all summer for another one.

    I live in the Northwest corner of Connecticut, and my days are dedicated to my Dad. He lost his beloved Catherine two years ago, and as the only daughter in the area, I am there for my Dad. And why not? He, as well as my Mom were always there for me.

    In a way it is a blessing that I have stopped working as a pre-school teacher and devote my days to my Dad. It has given me the space and time to search and seek meditative passages, to practice living them, and use my creative energies towards cooking.

    During my meditative seeking, I desire to touch God, fingertip to fingertip. That is what I would tell Henri if I had the chance to sit across from him.

    I would like to, as well, dedicate my days to serving the elderly, uplifting them in their place. This incorporates listening with an attentive heart, and responding to their wisdom.

  77. Seminarian in Suspence says:

    1. From Portland Oregon USA, I write and share that I wake each day in the wonderful mystery of discerning and heeding God’s calling. Following The Lord has led me to be a seminarian and student of spiritual formation. This is my first time joining an online group of this ilk, my first time reading Life of the Beloved, and second time reading Nouwen.

    2) As I imagine Henri asking me if I know what I want, I grieve a bit from the fear of unrequited love. I cannot deny that “it takes two to tango” and if my calling is to “dance,” I must love who I am called to love until they accept my invitation. Even if they deny, I cannot stop my pursuit as that would stop my heeding of God’s calling. I just have to be gentle and kind, fierce and cunning. I am embracing the paradoxical both/and of being and doing, resting in the GoodNews, and exercising the work of my formation. I pray this does not become a tragic tale. I am tempted to adorn myself with a veil of what I think they want to see, but that deceit would be sin.
    I know and want my calling. I heed it to the best of my ability daily.
    Love is both driving me and holding me back at the same time, and I am at peace with that. In that sense, I am living out what I want every day.

  78. Susan says:

    This is my first online book study and I’m looking forward to it. I live in Oregon, USA and our church leadership team has just finished the book “Dream Releasers” so the Prologue is a great continuation to that conversation as well. I’m looking forward to reading and sharing along with the rest of you.

  79. Joseph Piccione says:

    Thanks so much for hosting this international reading experience! I noticed your invitation several days ago and so the book is on its way.

    I’m a native of New Jersey and now live in central Illinois. My work is in healthcare ethics and regularly encounter pastoral care workers who studied under Nouwen; when we reference him we experience his blessing. It can be a reset in the midst of the day.

    The daily enote transmission is a great service. Perhaps his book that has most influenced me in recent years is his meditation on icons for prayer.

  80. David and Anita says:

    We are joining you from west Michigan. We have read many of Henri’s books and benefited from the openness of his communication. It is a life’s work (the Spirit in him) that is continuing to reap a harvest of blessing. “It is good.”

    It is my desire (Anita) to have the prayers of my heart and my communications in word, with song and action continue the legacy of Jesus, who was with us and is with us through his Spirit, by being ‘with’ others in a way that hears and sees and responds with Christ, “you are loved with a deep abiding love, and He earnestly and patiently waits for you to know it”. I have a number of gifts; musical, creative, blending, seeing what is, and what is needed, but often crippled in carrying them out. What holds me back sometimes is the needs of others or what I perceive are needs, or their opinions. Oh, that God would heal that place in me.

    I (David), too long for conscious fulfillment of purpose but have come to believe that in doing the many small things, that very well may be the fulfillment. Not the grandiose ideas and dreams. I hold those much more loosely these days. A book published, a new nonprofit started, my wife’s music ministry launches…those would be wonderful if they happen, but for now, small things, well.

    We look forward to our time with everyone on this year’s advent journey with Henri. Blessings from the snow and cold of the Great Lake Country.

  81. Gayle Whittemore says:

    Hi Friends.
    I am a retired United Church of Christ clergy who has specialized in working with churches in crisis. The problems of these congregations is at heart always a faith problem. I am so grateful for this calling, and for the work God has done in me. I long for ways to share that gift.
    I live in rural New Hampshire, raise chickens and keep bees. I belong to a wonderful worship community. I am a widow with three grown children and four grandchildren. My sister lives a few miles away.
    I read a lot and have read Henri Nouwen years ago. I have never done an online book study before.

  82. norah says:

    I am in Colorado.
    I enjoy Henri Nouwen’s books and as he asked- am looking for what it is I really want.

  83. Lata Hall says:

    My name is Lata, I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. This is my first tme. I was introduced to the world of Henri Nouwen by my daughter, who met him at a L’Arche retreat. He has changed my life. I have read the book before and, I am enjoying it even more now. He made me feel, I matter to God and now it is a personal relationship. I am 73 yrs. old, I live with my husband, who loves Henri’s writings with the same enthusiasm. We had plans to go and work in Day Break Community after we were to retire, but ended up starting a first L’Arche Community in Halifax. Henri died long before our retirement. We do study Henri’s works with our assistants. I am very much looking forward to sharing this time with others during this time of Advent. God bless you all, Lata

  84. Leslie MacPherson says:

    Hello. I live in the Chicago area.

    My days and energies, over nearly a year, have not so much been dedicated to anything in particular; rather, I’ve been in a strange and unsettling default existence of doing my best to examine my life … where I’ve been, where I am, where I’m going. I’ve never taken the time to truly contemplate or even consider, deeply, God’s purpose for the gifts of the Holy Spirit he gave me even before my birth. I don’t want to allow them to lie fallow anymore.

    I am joining for the first time. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. I’m grateful.

  85. ruth says:

    This is my first online book discussion and I am looking forward to reading along with all of you through the Advent Season. I have read some of Henri’s books but not this one, so I am eager to begin.
    I live in Western Michigan and we’ve had some very pretty snowfall today!

    I have been in the process of a midlife transition for the last few years. Having raised 4 children with my husband of 33 years, we are quickly being over run with grandchildren and new children(spouses). It is delightful. I have not worked outside the home in any paid position but have the privilege of walking alongside other women as a spiritual companion, mentor and friend.

    As I read the prologue I loved the thought that henri expresses toward the end, pg. 25, where he says “They called me to be who I want to be, but they gave me, as well, the assurance of their love.” Calling each other to be who we want to be, maybe calling out of one another who we were meant to be but can’t see it all on our own – I love the thought of community that gives to one another in this way.

    I am eager to hear what is to be shared in this community.

  86. Latrilla says:

    Hello. My name is Latrilla from Hampton Roads, VA. I have participated in online courses that required me to post discussions online among classmates. I forgot I had planned to join you all in this discussion so I ran out to get this book two hours ago. I read the prologue and could totally relate to Fred. My eyes became wet and my heart heavy. I am a mental health clinician and I, too, do not like my job. I love the clients, just do not like the work. I am also a divinity student, graduating in May. Presently, my passions and interest revolve around graphic design and writing. I keep suppressing this passion for years, feeling like Fred, because I have never taken any graphic design classes due to time and money. I’m sure I could teach myself, but I still feel hesitant to so. This interest keeps resurfacing but is always the same. The fact of the matter is, I believe this is the platform God wants me to use to reach his people, to speak with words. I was just having this discussion with a friend today. I have been speaking about this for years and not acting on it. I have decided to get out of my way and start learning the craft and see what each step will take me. I desire to see broken people come to the wholeness and love of God. This book and discussion is right on time!

  87. Betty Amnah says:

    I live in Ohio. I am a cradle Catholic, I am active in our church, and I am a math teacher at an all boys Catholic high school. We have 3 adult children and one granddaughter. I have never been in one of your online discussions. Getting excited about it! I have read and am digesting the Prologue of our book.

  88. Marty says:


    This is my first time in any book discussion group. I read this book about a year ago and was deeply encouraged in my faith.

    I am a wife and mother; have been married for 31 years and have three daughters (25, 21 and 10). I live in Manhattan, KS in the beautiful tall grass prairie of the Flint Hills. And, I enjoy experiencing God’s wonder through nature, photography and writing. I work full-time as a legal assistant.

    As a community, we all here have an opportunity to share, to encourage one another, to learn, and to generously give God’s grace to one another.

    Looking forward with great expectancy to this journey . . .

    Grace & peace~

  89. Mary Goodwillie says:

    Hello from York, PA. There have been many times in my life when Henri’s words have brought me home to where my heart has always longed to be. I often wonder why it’s so challenging to stay home when it’s such a beautiful place to be! I look forward to growing with you during this Advent season.

  90. mike says:

    from new jersey. first time with book discussion. Have been an avid reader and learner with Henri Nouwen for years. Looking forward to this discussion. This book has been a great compannion in a very difficult time in my life. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

  91. Elisa says:

    Wow, what a wonderful group to journey with, reading and discussing Life of the Beloved. A warm welcome to all of you first timers. So many of you have echoed the same thoughts and questions I have. I live in Michigan and have had a varied journey. After graduating, I worked 5 years in a University’s accounting department and then left when I had the first of 2 sons to be a stay at home mom. Then spent 12 years working with preschoolers until I needed to slow the pace down and to figure out what God is calling me to do/be. I am still trying to figure out what my heart’s desire is. I’ve been reading a lot of Henri Nouwen in the last 4 years and have participated in several on-line discussions. I look forward to learning and growing with all of you. God bless all of you on your faith journey during this Advent.

  92. Dottie L. says:

    After a crazy week, I realized I hadn’t gotten to the site yet–and I’ve been excited about this Advent group. I am from southern New Jersey, married, mom of three, grandmom of three, a retired English teacher and a freelance writer for our diocesan newspaper. Although I love to read, my experience with reading groups is limited. I joined this one because I have always been uplifted by Nouwen’s works so much that I consider him a teacher/friend–it’s a great thing being part of the communion of saints! (That feeling was amplified when I read everyone else’s post). I am active with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, music and liturgical ministries. Everyone, have a happy thanksgiving…travel mercies to you and yours.

  93. Rachel says:

    I am in the UK. This is my first time joining the book discussion.
    I work in publishing, which I love, and my three children take up most of the rest of my time.
    What do I really want? I have really struggled in my faith in recent years, and nowadays my only desire is to reconnect with God and find peace with Him again. The things that hold me back are, I guess, disappointment, confusion, pain.
    I really enjoy receiving the daily email and often find lots of encouragement from it, so I’m hoping that taking part int the Advent discussion will be a real encouragement for me.

  94. Nancy Pauls says:

    I’m Nancy, an associate pastor who oversees prayer ministry at a very very large church in the kansas City area. I’m happy to be part of the group. I love the book and am looking forward to the discussion.

  95. Carol says:

    My name is Carol. I live in North Carolina. I dedicate my days and energy in many ways. I am married, mother, work two jobs, am active in church and pray often.
    I dedicate my days and energy in this way b/c, gosh, interesting question; I love my husband and son and want to spend time with them, I work two jobs b/c I need the money, I am active in my church b/c I need to feel connected to my church family and I pray often b/c I need God’s help.

    I have participated in one previous online discussion group here.

    I really want to please God. The dream, passion or purpose God has placed in my
    heart is to care about my husband, son, work, church. I am living this purpose more
    fervently now than I have in the past. I have been able to grasp this purpose through allowing job to purify me of sin and a lot of praying to be obedient and humble.

  96. Marsha Lindahl says:

    My name is Marsha and I live in Central Texas in a small town outside of Austin. I met Henri Nouwen on Facebook and did some research to find more of his writings. I have been getting his daily devotion for about 6 months now. This is a new experience for me as my Bible studies have always been in small groups. I am retired but work part-time for school districts testing and counseling students who have or are suspected of having a disability.

  97. Sue Good says:

    I live in the southern part of the U.S. This is my first online book discussion. I was pleased to find this study while I was planning my Advent focus. Henri Nouwen is one of my favorite authors. I’ve been reading his works for over 10 years. I have worked in education as an early elementary teacher, special education teacher (learning disabilities), and counselor (mostly addictions). I retired for a few years and felt I wanted to be interacting with people. Now I work part time for a weight loss company which fits my background in education and addictions. I’m looking forward to participating in this discussion and seeing where it takes me. I know I will be both pleased and surprised.

  98. Bronwen Wathan says:

    I live in Swansea, South Wales, UK and I am a Lay Reader in the Church in Wales. As part of my ministry in our Parish I lead worship and preach. It is such a privilege being able to do this. As a birthday present I was given an iPad and it has opened up a whole new world for me, and I have enjoyed receiving the daily meditation, being able to take it with me when I go down to the beach with my dog. Today I found that I could download this book for the advent study, from a spoken word site and it is a great delight to listen to Nouwen reading it.

    I look forward to sharing this book with so many people around the world

  99. Brynn Lawrence says:

    Thank you to each and every one of you who has shared a little bit of yourself in these introductions! We’ve had such a beautiful beginning to the discussion.

    I’ve created a new post, titled “Nov 24th to Nov 30th: Being the Beloved.” If you come over to this new post you’ll find new discussion questions and comments focused on this week’s readings.

    To get to this new post you can scroll to the top of this page and click on the word “Home” located in the bottom left hand corner of the image of the forest floor. Once on the home page you’ll see the link to the new post (the title in bold text that turns red when you put your mouse over it).

    Please join us in the new post, and add any new comments (including new introductions) there.

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