December 18th-24th Epilogue

Reading: Epilogue by Sue Mosteller (p343)

Thank you, to each of you, for committing to each other in this Advent journey.  Your beauty has shone through, along with and through your questions, thoughts, sharing, and insights.

In this, our final week, we invite you to jump to the end of the book and read the Epilogue (we plan to return to the second half of this book in a future book discussion).

1) Sue wrote a wonderful Epilogue to this book.  As part of this, she reflects on a particular memory from her relationship with Henri that has stayed with her over the years. 
a) We invite you to reflect on this Advent journey and share your main “take away.”  What do you hope to remember and apply to your life going forward?

2) The Henri Nouwen Society and Legacy Trust would like to offer a special opportunity /gift to each of you. 

On the 20th anniversary of Henri’s death, the Henri Nouwen Society sponsored the Way of the Heart International Conference.  Gabrielle Earnshaw, the editor of Love, Henri, presented her unique insight into how this wonderful book came to be and actor Joe Abbey-Colborne offered a powerful interpretation of Henri the letter writer. This presentation is usually offered for sale as part of the conference proceedings. For the next two weeks the Society is providing the participants in this Advent discussion the chance to watch and reflect on Gabrielle and Joe’s presentation (53 minutes) at no cost by following this link: and entering the password LoveHenriAdvent

In her presentation Gabrielle offers a succinct and insightful summary of the book:  “Each letter stands alone, but together they tell a compelling story of one man’s efforts to live his life well—for himself, for others, and for God.”
a) Regardless of how many of his books you have previously read (many or few), what new insights have you gained into the life of Henri Nouwen from reading his letters and from watching this presentation?
b) How do those insights change how you view and live your own life?

Thank you once again to each of you.  Have a blessed Christmas!

Ray and Brynn

Dec 11th to 17th – Letters

Reading: letters on pages 117 (beginning of Part II) to 175 (letter to Ed dated July 13, 1988)

Welcome to our third week of letters.  It has been a wonderful discussion so far, with such rich participation from each of you.  We also always like to remember those who are tracking with us silently… you are valued too!

1) In the letter to Father Paul Walsh (p 148, dated February 16, 1987) Henri summarizes his experience of how the more vulnerable among us can be a true and special gift:  “By revealing to us that being is more important than doing, the heart is more important than the mind and community is more important than individual stardom, they are truly messengers of the Gospel and witnesses to the Lord who became poor for us.”
a) Please share a similar experience of how a vulnerable person or group of people became a messenger of the Gospel in your life.
b) Does the idea of engaging the vulnerable in your community bring up resistance in you?  Why do you think?
c) Is your heart stirred to take any particular steps this Christmas or this year to engage the vulnerable in your community?  Please share.

2) In a letter to Connie (p 149, dated April 2, 1987) Henri affirms, “it is the Spirit of Jesus we need.  Keep your eyes and the eyes of your sisters focused (fixed) on him.  Words like ‘God’ and ‘Spirit’ so easily tempt us to overlook the ‘word became flesh and dwelled among us.’  Your special task as superior is to keep Jesus, the crucified and risen Lord, in the heart of your people and in the center of your community.  Keep speaking about him and keep his words calling you and your sisters to faithfulness.”
a) Do you also tend to fall into the temptation to use more general terms when talking about your faith?
b) Why do you think this is such a temptation? / Why does Henri warn against it?
c) What does it look like to speak clearly about Jesus, the crucified and risen Lord, while still creating a place of hospitality for all people?

3) Below are a few very powerful quotes that came out of this set of letters, you are most welcome to share your thoughts, reflections and / or responses to them:

Letter to Nathan 5/19/1986:

“America is such a world in need of Jesus. Everybody asks me to speak about him…Whether you become a priest or not, will marry or not, you are clearly called to proclaim the love of Jesus.”

Letter to Jurjen 9/10/1986:

“I hope and pray that you will be able to use all your creativity as a minister of God and will especially be able to keep the Lord Jesus in the center of your and your people’s life.  I am increasingly convinced of the importance of preaching the Name of the Lord Jesus as the rising Lord, the Lord who overcame the powers of death and came to set us free.  The freedom that that Gospel offers is a different from what the world can bring us, and it is so important for people today to really come to know and experience this freedom.”

Letter to Barb 11/5/86:

“Only when Christ really is alive in your heart can you recognize him in your neighbor because it is the Christ in you who calls forth the Christ in others.  I really feel that it is very important for you to have a regular discipline of prayer and spiritual reading.”

Letter to Bob 5/19/1988:

“What I am experiencing is a really deep spiritual crisis in which I realize that God wants all of my heart, not simply a part of it.  It seems as if He wants to test my faithfulness and my commitment in a new way.  He is really asking me to let go of everything that does not bring me closer to Him.  He calls me to a more generous prayer life and a more fearless ministry.  This year is a kind of desert year to purify my heart.  It is painful but also full of grace.”

Letter to Ed 7/13/1988:

“Try to take little steps in the direction of your inner call (a regular hour of silent prayer, talks with people who can truly listen to you, reading books that help you sharpen your own inner vocation, visits to places and people where some of your dream is lived out).  Be sure never to let your life go flat. Always know that God is calling you to ever greater things.”

As always, we look forward to hearing whatever comes up for you in the reading.  Looking forward to another rich and life-giving week of discussion.

Ray and Brynn

December 4th-10th – Letters

Reading: letters on pages 61 (to David, dated April 2, 1982) through 113 (end of part I)

Welcome to our second week of discussion!  It was lovely to hear from each of you last week, and get a small glimpse into your hearts.  We have another inspiring week ahead.

1) In his letter written to Ruth on February 3, 1982 (p 83) Henri responds to a reader who, like each of us, is longing for a more personal, intimate and direct relationship with God.  He points her to gratitude and intercession.
a) You are invited to write a prayer of gratitude.  Please share it with us!
b) You are invited to write a prayer of intercession for people you know, or for people you don’t know but of whose suffering you are aware of.  Share it with us to the degree it is appropriate.
c) How do you sense these two steps can help you to develop a more personal relationship with God?

2) In the letter to Senator Hatfield from September 30, 1984 (p98) Henri writes about the great temptation faced by every human being to allow ones identity to be determined what people say about us.  This is, no doubt, something all of us can identify with.  Henri invites us to believe the truth that we are people infinitely loved by God even though we are sinners.  Henri writes, “Your true name is the name God has given to you, and no human being can take that name away from you.”
a) Consider the times you’ve found yourself tempted to try to prove to others that they are wrong in what they say (or might be thinking) of you.  Based on this letter, how might you live those times differently now and into the future?

3) In his letter to Mark from September 4, 1982 (p 71), Henri writes of his desire to be “present to people with all that I have.”
a) Although Henri is writing as a priest, by our baptism as Christians we are all called to love and serve other people.  What insights have you gained in this letter that may help you to better minister to those people in your life?

4) Again, these letters reflect the way Henri cared for people around him, often by sharing from the heart his own experiences.
a) In this set of letters, does anything inspire you or stand out to you about the way that Henri cares for others, and responds to their life experiences?

As always, feel free to share whatever comes up for you in this week’s reading.  We look forward to hearing from you… whether a very simple comment or a more extended reflection.  We value each of you.


Ray and Brynn