Dec 23 to Dec 25: Afterword, Thank You, & Merry Christmas

ReadingHere and Now, Afterword (p. 201 to 202)

My words were only to encourage you to find your own words,
and my thoughts were only to help you
discover your own thoughts. 
Here and Now, Afterword (p. 201)


As we come to the end of our Advent journey, my heartfelt thanks to each of you for joining us along the way. Your active engagement, your deep and honest comments, and your commitment to establishing a caring virtual community are a powerful example of what it means to live in the Spirit, Here and Now. You have taken Henri’s words to heart and used his meditations as a springboard to the thoughts, insights, and encouragement you have so freely and beautifully shared.

In these last days before the coming of Jesus, you are encouraged to look back and to identify a few meditations or a chapter that especially touched your heart during our time together. You might consider: Why were Henri’s words meaningful to you now? Are there things in your life that you see differently as a result? Is there a discipline you plan to adopt, a practice you commit to strengthen, or an action you intend to take Here and Now as a result of this Advent journey? Please share your reflections to the extent you are comfortable.

At the time Henri wrote these reflections he had been living at L’Arche Daybreak for about eight years. He had finally found the home for which he had been searching his entire adult life.  I thought you might enjoy seeing a photo of Henri at Christmas time at Daybreak. Henri’s friend and teacher Adam (p.112), is to his immediate left.

Photo Courtesy of the Henri Nouwen Society

May you and yours have a blessed and joyous Christmas. And, in the words of St. Francis, may the Lord give you peace.


P.S. I hope that many of you will rejoin us for our Lenten book discussion.  We will begin on Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019.  Watch the Daily Meditations email or visit the Henri Nouwen Society website for the book selection and further information in the coming weeks.

10 Replies to “Dec 23 to Dec 25: Afterword, Thank You, & Merry Christmas”

  1. Thank you Ray for allowing us to have this conversation around “Here and Now”. And thank you everyone else for being a part of our meaningful conversation. I am blessed to have the tent pegs holding God’s love around me pulled up out of the ground and reach out further to add all of you in this tent of God’s amazing love.

    It is most challenging to decide on any one or two parts of “Hear and Now” that spoke most to me. I think the thread that was prevalent throughout the book was how much God loves us and how much he draws us into an ever increasing experience of his love. And, the sense of awe and wonder that it brings to us as our physical eyes and the eyes of our minds and hearts are changed to behold his goodness in every aspect of our lives. The focus being that it is meant to be increasing. Not a one time event but a lifelong adventure of being changed more and more into God’s likeness with each passing day. Not allowing our roots to settle us too much so we ar pe able to continue to have a heart yearning for more. Rudyard Kipling in the opening stanzas of his poem titled “The Explorers” beckons us to reach on beyond where we currently find ourselves to be which is what Henri Nouwen has encouraged us to do in “Here and Now” as follows:

    “THERE’S no sense in going further – it’s the edge of cultivation,”
    So they said, and I believed it – broke my land and sowed my crop –
    Built my barns and strung my fences in the little border station
    Tucked away below the foothills where the trails run out and stop:

    Till a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes
    On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated – so:
    “Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges –
    “Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”

    Thank you again Ray for allowing us to enjoy a conversation which has encouraged us to reach fuller into the mysteries of God’s everlasting love.

    Merry Christmas to all.

  2. As we approach the Christmas Vigil here on the east coast, I’d like to, once again, say thanks to all of you–those who posted so beautifully and those who silently followed along. It has been a blessing to walk with you this Advent and to share in such a meaningful conversation with caring spiritual companions.

    Today, Christmas Eve 2018, is the anniversary of (at least) three significant milestones you might be interested in.

    –The beloved Christmas carol Silent Night was first sung 200 years ago on Christmas Eve near Salzburg.

    –Earlier today was the 100th anniversary performance of the world-renowned Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College, Cambridge.

    –Today is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8 entering lunar orbit, humans seeing Earthrise for the first time, and the live broadcast where Astronauts Borman, Lovell, and Anders read from the Book of Genesis.

    May you and yours be richly blessed during this Christmas season. Remember, the beauty we experience in Silent Night, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, and Earthrise are but a glimpse of the beauty of the Incarnation. Come Lord Jesus.

    Peace and all good, my friends.


  3. Many thanks for those who’ve shared, in writing, in prayer or thought. I cast my mind back to the preface … “I hope and pray that you who read these meditations will discover many connections with your own spiritual journey, …”. Indeed, I did! Likewise, it is a joy to see so much int he contribution of others that makes me realise the interconnectedness of people, despite the distance of land or age; we are all pilgrims on a journey.
    So much has spoken to me throughout the book; it seems elements of so much of Nouwen’s thoughts in other texts are collected together here to give something akin to a manifesto. The sections on family, relationships and who we are really spoke to me as my life changed from focusing on the “competitiveness” of the world to a spiritual life that “looks from above” – a concept I will employ liberally in my thinking from now on!
    Wishing all a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    A special thanks to Ray for keeping it all together.
    God bless and have a good one!

  4. Our Journey Together

    Thank you, Ray, for leading us on this Advent journey together. I have gained much from reading each post and have started reading, “He Leadeth Me” by Walter Cisek –looking forward to reading other resources mentioned by several of you, as well.

    I loved the sentence in “Discipline Living” that stated: “A life that is not reflected upon eventually loses its meaning …” “Here and Now’s” power for me was the call to reflection, which was magnified by our shared responses. Throughout the New Year, I hope to focus mainly on two areas –reflection on God’s Word and seeing and learning from what Henri calls “reversals.”

    For me, writing has always helped me to reflect in a more focused way. There is a saying that goes, “How do I know what I think unless I write it?” Thinking about my responses to each chapter in “Here and Now,” and then writing those thoughts, forced me to reflect in a deeper way and see connections. I have a new journaling Bible that I plan on using in that manner –reading God’s Word and reflecting on what it is saying to me personally in the margins.

    Reverals. In his chapter, “Conversion,” one of the passages I deeply love says this: “This ‘reversal’ is the sign of God’s Spirit. The poor have a mission to the rich, the blacks have a mission to the whites, the handicapped have a mission to the ‘normal,’ the gay people have a mission to the straight, the dying have a mission to the living. Those whom the world has made into victims God has chosen to be bearers of good news.” I intend to deliberately look for the reversals that are around me each day and pray that my eyes and heart will be open to seeing and heeding their mission in my life.

    Merry Christmas to each of you!

  5. An “open ending” that Nouwen is glad about, also makes me glad. The encouragement “to enter ever more deeply into the divine mystery with the knowledge that this mystery is an inexhaustible source of life and love” helps me embrace the spiritual discipline of contemplating the Gospel…p.109…”Each passage holds its own treasure for us.” Reminds me of Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I will continue to treasure, ponder the inexhaustible……treasuring our belovedness as God’s children, far and wide….thank you for magnifying my joy in our Lord! m

  6. First, let me join those writing before me this week in thanking Ray for the fine work in facilitating discussions over these Advent days. Also, I appreciate those who shared their thoughts and reflections on issues raised in our readings. Some even related personal stories as they made important connections with issues being discussed. This helps us realize that, while coming from differing backgrounds and experiences, we share many similar worries, pains, distractions, joys, and desires to move nearer to our God. There is a common desire to truly rest in the awareness that we are all God’s Beloved!

    Elaine has already noted Henri’s comments near the end (pages 201-202) that what he has shared in this book reflects his own unique personal journey, which is inevitably bound by his time, place, and circumstances. What makes Henri so unique, however, is that his expressions strike universal chords, longings shared by all humans. These are timeless, which is why I keep coming back to Henri Nouwen.

    Ray asked us to identify meditations or chapters that were particularly meaningful. There are many. But one that touches my heart tonight are his reflections in Chapter V regarding Spiritual Reading and Reading Spiritually. His call “to let God and not the world be the Lord” of my mind is something I must remember. Actually, this is a path I have tried to travel for the last few years, but I need constant encouragement to stay on that path! Further, his insights about not just reading [or listening on my walks] to spiritual material but Reading Spiritually is something I need to put into practice more thoughtfully. As Henri says: “Reading in a spiritual way is reading with a desire to let God come closer to us.” Therefore, I need to slow down at times as I read or listen to the Bible or spiritual writers, such as Henri Nouwen, to “let God’s spirit master” me!
    (see especially pages 94-95).

    If I don’t get back with more tomorrow, a Blessed and Merry Christmas to all in our conversation as well as those who have been following along and reflecting on these meditations from Henri Nouwen.

  7. Thanks to you, Ray for guiding our discussion. I appreciate the photo of Henri and friends around the . Reminds me of what someone said, “it’s not the tree that matters, but what’s important is those who are gathered around it.” Henri’s wisdom speaks clearly to me when I need to recall that I am beloved of God. He puts things into perspective. He helps me to see that my humanness is acceptable, my prayer heard, my small steps are holy blessed with the goodness God instills.
    May the Bethlehem birth be reclaimed by us in all the fullness of incarnation. Praise be Emmanuel. Joyous Noel to each of you in this online community.

    1. I too appreciate the photo. When we previously discussed Henri’s book about Adam, I don’t believe we saw such a photo. Though that book provided a clear picture of Adam’s appearance and personality, the photo further illuminates the reasons Henri found Adam to be beloved, as a child of God, a blessing, and even his teacher. My daughter, a special education teacher, maintains a whole photo gallery of touching photos of her students, many of whom have the same intellectual and physical challenges as Adam’s. However, her photos never really focus on the disability. People in general are often too willing to reduce such children to that view and dismiss their worth, but her photos feature the shine in their eyes, their endearing crooked smiles, their dogged determination to push a walker across the room, their unabashed openness and joy in hugs from my daughter and the volunteers. Lessons for all of us.

      I must always remember that God is here and now, most especially in those whom society has dismissed as less worthy. Prayers too for their families, their caregivers, and all those who advocate on their behalf.

  8. Thanks to all who posted. I felt inspired and accompanied this Advent through this online sharing. It took away a big part of the commercial buzz that comes with the season.
    It’s a new day and the waiting never ends – thankfully His coming is never ending as well. Letus keep our hearts receptive to giving and receiving in the spirit Here and Now.

    Happy Gatherings!

  9. First of all, I would like to thank you, Ray, for facilitating another thoughtful and thought-provoking Advent discussion. My fellow participants, I feel so blessed by the wisdom, personal stories, and amazing resources you have shared. To those of you who have silently participated, I appreciate your prayers and quiet witness. In a challenging time of my life, the book HERE AND NOW has proved to be the perfect choice, a reminder that God is Emmanuel, with us here and now and always–even when and especially when I am in the throes of a crisis or a bad day.

    Here is my reflection on the afterword of the book:

    Henri says, “What I have written in this book is an expression of my own personal spiritual journey, bound by my own personality, time, place, and circumstances….My hope is that the description of God’s love in my life will give you the freedom and courage to discover—and maybe also describe–God’s love in yours” ( 201-202).

    First of all, I think what draws so many of us to Henri is the fact that he never positions his own statements dogmatically or pontifically as a priest, a prestigious professor, an acclaimed and prolific writer. In fact, many of us, drawn to his humanity, humility, and vulnerability, refer to him simply as Henri.

    Second, I am pondering his use of the words “bound” and “courage.” Yes, I am “free” to carve out my own course and follow my heart, but it will take courage to admit what my self-imposed boundaries might be. Do I need to confront the reality of a life with too many appointments, too much on my “to do” list, too many worries that distract and bog me down? Do I need to loosen up on my Type A personality? Can I reset my priorities to allow for more sacred space? If Advent is a time of waiting, then the new year needs to be a time of action: How will I answer Henri’s invitation?

    A joyous, blessed Christmas to all of you.

    With love and prayers for your intentions,

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