Dec 16 to Dec 22: Family, Relationships, & Who We Are

Reading: Here and Now, Chapter IX to Chapter XI (p. 155 to 200)

Our true identity is that we are God’s children, the beloved
sons and daughters of our heavenly Father… We are
God’s beloved… because God freely chose us.
Here and Now, Who We Are, Two (p. 189) & Three (p. 192)

Thanks, once again, to each of you for joining us and participating in this meaningful and Spirit-filled Advent journey.  All of us, whether commenting online or not, have all been greatly blessed by the thoughtful and inspiring responses to Henri’s meditations on living in the Spirit.   According to Henri, “If we truly  believe that God loves us with an unlimited, unconditional love, then we can trust that there are men and women in this world who are eager to show us that love.  But we cannot wait passively until someone shows up to offer us that friendship.”  (p. 184)  We who belong to this loving and supportive Advent virtual community have chosen to believe in God’s love, to  trust in each other, and to gather together and share with each other here and now.  We are grateful for your presence, your participation, and your friendship.

In the Introduction post as we began our discussion, Nouwen archivist and editor Gabrielle Earnshaw’s  observed, “Here and Now is Henri Nouwen’s statement of faith. It covers almost everything he ever thought and experienced about the Christian spiritual life.”  During the past few weeks Henri has shown us key aspects of living a spiritual life, often focusing on actions we can take and disciplines we can adopt. This week Henri asks us to reflect on the importance of healthy relationships–with family and those we choose as friends. He writes, “All human relationships… are meant to be signs of God’s love for humanity, as a whole and each person in particular.”  That leads to the concluding chapter where Henri poses the question, “Who are we?”  His compelling answer, shown in the quotation at the top of this post, is central to his understanding of the spiritual life. Discovering the truth of who we are, believing that truth, and living in that truth and sharing it with others is what it means to live a spiritual life.

There’s much to reflect on in the readings this week.   You are especially encouraged to prayerfully consider your answer to the question “Who are we?” in light of Henri’s meditations. The reflection process from prior weeks is shown below.  We look forward to you sharing whatever touched your heart to the extent you are comfortable. Finally, all comments are welcome be they long or short, simple or complex, or from a regular commenter or someone commenting for the first time.

Let’s have a blessed discussion this week and don’t forget to return next Sunday for the Afterword and a chance to wrap up our Advent journey together.

Peace and all good.


Here is a process that you might find helpful as you explore the readings.

  1. Concentrate on one chapter per day.
  2. Read all of the meditations in the selected chapter in the order presented to gain insight into Henri’s approach to this element of the spiritual life.
  3. Select a few (perhaps 2 or 3) of the meditations that stand out to you, and read them thoroughly, perhaps several times and reflect on what they are saying. Consider:
    1. The thought or concept that stands out to you
    2. How does it relate to your personal experience? Look at your experience with the benefit of Henri’s insight.  Does that help you to see things differently or to know yourself better?
    3. What is God speaking to your heart?  Henri turned to scripture daily and that is reflected in many of these meditations.  You might find it fruitful  to seek out  the Scriptural truths that Henri mentions or that God is speaking to your heart.
    4. How you will respond? Carefully (prayerfully) consider how your heart responds to the insights gained during your reflection. Are there small steps you can take to incorporate these insights and to apply this element to strengthen your spiritual life?
    5. Pray!
    6. You might also consider the questions in the Guide for Reflection (p. 203)
  4. Move on to another chapter.