March 14th to 20th: Lent Week 4 – Friendship, Holy Week, and Plans to Return to Daybreak

Reading: March 15 to May 18 entries, pages 127 to 167

This year has been different from my expectations and has been one of the busiest and most involved years I can remember. But still, it’s been a
wonderful year. I did not write as much as I planned, but I wrote
a lot. I did not pray as much as I planned, but my experience
of God has deepened in my writing. I haven’t been as alone
as I hoped, but I’ve had more solitude than before.
(Wednesday, May 15th, p. 166)

We were blessed last week by the personal, touching, and inspired thoughts many of you shared. Several people mentioned they have fallen behind in the reading. Let me assure you, that is not possible in a Henri Nouwen book discussion. I’m confident that the Holy Spirit often guides us to discover what we are supposed to discover at the time we are supposed to discover it. I know that has been the case for me, especially when I read Henri.

During the two months from mid-March to mid-May, Henri is enthused about the book on the Flying Rodleighs; makes progress on the book about Adam; welcomes Nathan, Sue and other friends to Peapack, New Jersey; returns to L’Arche Daybreak to celebrate Holy Week with his community; and then travels seemingly non-stop for a month. Through his sabbatical journal, we gain insights into Henri’s hectic, fulfilling, and, at times, insecure life that we don’t glean from Henri’s other books, as personal as they may be.

When I realized that during last week and this week we are reading Henri’s journal entries twenty five years after they were written on these exact dates (March 7th to March 20th, pages 122 to 131), I was touched and felt a close connection to him. This week, in addition to encouraging you to share whatever touched your heart, I’m going to mention several journal entries and quotations that were especially meaningful to me that may prompt your thoughts.

  • March 15: “When we love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul, we cannot do other than love our neighbor, and our very selves. It is by being fully rooted in the heart of God that we are creatively connected with our neighbor as well as with our deepest self.”
  • March 20: “I feel in gentle harmony with my family, the people in Daybreak, especially Nathan and Sue. . . I easily forget how fragile I am inside, and how little is needed to throw me off balance. A small rejection, a slight criticism might be enough to make me doubt my self-worth and even lose my self-confidence.”
  • March 29: This entry of is significant. Henri wrote about the depression caused by the breakdown of a friendship in the The Return of the Prodigal Son and the Inner Voice of Love without mentioning Nathan by name. Not mentioned here, Sr. Sue Mosteller played a key role in healing the relationship.
  • April 29: “Jackie spoke to me about my homily and especially the way I talked about Murray’s vulnerability. ‘I never have thought about being vulnerable as something positive,’ she said. ‘I should have thought about that earlier.'”
  • May 15: The quote in bold at the top of the post.
  • May 17: “What I most hope is to learn how to write a good story that engages the reader to the very end. . . (Mentions books on Adam and Rodleighs) So my trip to Sante Fe is a little gift that I give myself to push me into a new dimension of storytelling.”

As before, you might consider using the process shown below to guide your reflection.

  1. Select a few journal entries that stand out to you, and read them thoroughly, perhaps several times. In your careful reading and reflection, consider:
    1. The experience, thought, or concept that stands out to you
    2. How does it relates 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 through Henri’s experience and words? How have you been touched, inspired, challenged, and comforted on your spiritual journey.
    4. How you will respond?  Carefully (prayerfully) consider how your heart responds to the insights you gained. Are there small steps you can take to incorporate these insights and to move toward spiritual freedom in your life?  What changes will you make?
  2. Please share your reflection and insights with the group to the degree you are comfortable.

I’m grateful to everyone that has joined us this Lent–those posting comments and those silently sharing our journey. All are welcome here.

May the Lord give you peace.

34 Replies to “March 14th to 20th: Lent Week 4 – Friendship, Holy Week, and Plans to Return to Daybreak”

  1. I have been told by many that I meet with and those who read my posts, that I exude faith and confidence. Yet I know personally that brokenness and fear remain just below the surface. Perhaps the key to my own humility and usefulness is that brokenness? Yes indeed, “wounded healers”.
    Patrick (the anonemoose monk)
    }:- a.m.

  2. May 31 The Visitation -seems to transform the two women – from a world of confusion and shame they find a safe place with each other where they offer support and affirmation, recognizing their greatness and blessing! “ We need to visit each other and offer each other a safe place where we can claim our freedom and celebrate our gifts. We need to get away for a while from the suspicious voices and angry looks and be in a place where we are deeply understood and loved” p.176.
    When I visit my elderly cousin in a nursing facility, I find comfort being recognized each visit and generally welcome. Visiting with her provides a space for mutual trust and safety, even though her memory and mobility are impaired, She tolerates my monologues, and scatters questions throughout so we occasionally engage in dialogues. I have found that having gone through sheer frustration and bewilderment at the process of assuring her care, my feelings have resolved into an awareness of love above all. We share our Catholic faith and speak about issues raised in the press and especially in America magazine. The visits allow me time driving alone in which I can recite a silent rosary, so there is an added plus.
    Seeing Henri’s strong emphasis on friendships, I reflect on my own treasured relationships and see that, though they are few, they do provide a sense of increased freedom and celebration of gifts. Although it is not always easy, I find I must try to move beyond my own barriers and inhibitions and lean more and more on God, so as to overcome with friends the pressures of ‘a world so full of shame and guilt’.

  3. From May 16th – Henri speaks of the “little while” of a life of expectant waiting for God’s promise of renewal and a new heaven and earth to come. “Nature speaks of it every spring; people speak of it whenever they smile; the sun, the moon, and the stars speak of it when they offer us light and beauty; and all of history speaks of it when amidst all devastation and chaos, men and women arise who reveal the hope that lives within them.”
    He asks, “what is my main task during my ‘little while’? I want to point to the signs of the Kingdom to come, to speak about the first rays of the day of God, to witness to the many manifestations of the Holy Spirit among us. I do not want to complain about this passing world but to focus on the eternal that lights up in the midst of the temporal. I yearn to create space where it can be seen and celebrated.” Yes, Lord, I want this too.

  4. Like Ray, I was struck by Henri’s musings on March 15: “When we love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul, we cannot do other than love our neighbor, and our very selves. It is by being fully rooted in the heart of God that we are creatively connected with our neighbor as well as with our deepest self. In the heart of God we can see that the other human beings who live on this earth with us are also God’s sons and daughters, and belong to the same family we do. There too I can recognize and claim my own belovedness, and celebrate it with my neighbors.

    Our society thinks economically: ‘How much love do I give to God, how much to my neighbor, and how much to myself?’ But God says, ‘Give all your love to me, and I will give you your neighbor and yourself.’ It is the intimate communion with God that reveals to us how to live in the world and act in God’s name.”

    For Henri, “we are not talking about moral obligations or ethical imperatives…[but] about the mystical life. It is the intimate communion with God that reveals to us how to live in the world and act in God’s name.”

    As I read through Henri’s journal, I am upheld by his deep desire to figure out how to live in the world as he grapples with his own inner torments and anxieties, needs for affirmation, struggle to write and find solitude and so forth. That he is engaged with the question moves me.

    I’m also just curious, as I read time and time again about how tired Henri is, I find myself struggling with the question of why he didn’t seek medical attention as his fatigue seems beyond the pale of “normal” even given his fairly brutal travel and writing schedule. Maybe because I’m aware of his approaching death, I wish that there had been some kind of medical intervention–well, and he just seems so frustrated with his level of fatigue and his need for sleep.

    1. My thoughts exactly. He had dinner with a cardiologist! Do they not get annual physicals in Canada? I wonder if it was the times and that maybe we are just generally more aware of heart health these days.

      1. Hi Connie
        Yes people in Canada have access to free healthcare (via our taxation system everyone is entitled). Henri would have been getting a yearly physical. A dinner with a cardiologist friend is not a consult 🙂
        Henri’s travel and schedule exhausts the heck out of me reading it and I am an extrovert who gets energy from being with people. Henri’s need for affirmation seems to always be driving his social calendar in spite of his profound fatigue. (I found that fascinating about him. Many of his friends have shared Henri was a difficult friend in some ways. Someone commented earlier in a post that Henri had so many friends always there for him, picking him up, feeding him, taking him to special events- he was truly deeply loved.)
        Many very smart people do not tend to their health, don’t respond to the needs of their body in spite of the obvious SOS.
        There is fatigue and anxiety popping off the page and pearls of wisdom tucked in there on every page.
        I hope I don’t miss them in the distraction of Henri’s personal journey entries. (If you read my daily entries during Covid as a healthcare leader in Toronto many wrong inferences could be made…)

        1. Thank you for a well written reply. I too kept saying in my mind as I’m reading this why does he not seek medical care. Having worked in healthcare I often would see people who would only come in unwilling dragged in by a person who loved them. I often wondered at the requests placed on Henri and ignoring Henri’s fatigue which he probably hid from them. Ones mind is very interesting in how we approach or avoid seeking help for ourselves

  5. I really loved the prayer that Henri wrote for his Military Chaplain friend (May 1st). The words of part of it reminded me of the Beatitudes. “Help me to be humble in the midst of a world that is so full of ambition. [Blessed are the meek]. Help me to be vulnerable in a world so concerned with power. [Blessed are the pure in heart]. Help me to be forgiving in a society where revenge and retaliation create so much pain. [Blessed are the peacemakers]. Help me to be poor of spirit in a milieu that desires so many riches and aspires to so much success.”
    I once visited the Army Chaplaincy Museum in Hampshire and became interested in the work of Military Chaplains. The Museum was closed in 2019 but should be reopening in new premises near Swindon later this year. In England we have a Bishop whose diocese is all the Armed Forces with a beautiful Cathedral in Aldershot. I picked up a small prayer book there which is given to Military personnel and has some lovely prayers in it, including the prayer for Spiritual Communion. Little did I know when I picked up that booklet that I would be using that prayer so often these past 12 months.

    1. Nicola and friends,
      You might be interested to know that early in his priesthood, while attending graduate school in Holland, Henri served as a chaplain for the Dutch army. As Henri noted, although the Dutch chaplains wear uniforms, they are really civilians, and not ministers / priests and military officers as they are in the United States.

  6. I was struck by June 6ths entry regarding Mk12:29-31 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself” and Henri’s reflection: “The love of God, neighbor, and self is one love. This great commandment is a call to the most profound unity, in which God, God’s people, and we ourselves are part of one love. In this way the great commandment is much more than a moral prescription. It is a mandate to always, in all things, and at all places live and work for oneness. All that exists is one. It is all part of the all-embracing divine love. Our call is to make that love visible in our daily lives.
    The call to unity has been in the forefront of my mind during these turbulent times and yet on a personal level, not always as easily done as said. I’ve been subjected to 5 months of construction noise from the unit above which I’d been told entailed a subfloor replacement but was actually a complete gutting and remodel of the unit. About a month into it I advised the property manager of the extent of the work and he came back with the owner’s explanation that they were applying noise mitigation to the walls. I was much more accepting of the noise thinking that it would be worth it in the long run only to be very disappointed when it appeared to amplify rather than mitigate the noise as I could hear the contractor’s music as if it were being piped into my room. Dripping with sarcasm I wrote to the manager that ‘my neighbor has been oversold on the mitigation.’ The word ‘neighbor’ was fresh in my mind having just watched Tom Hanks in a movie about Fred Rogers. In what I would consider the legacy of Fred Rogers, thinking of this new owner as ‘my neighbor,’ has really helped dissipate the anger and frustration I was feeling toward him. In Henri’s spirit of oneness, I think of the noise as if it were the result of work I or a family member were having done rather than some guy who should have more consideration than to remodel his unit in the midst of a pandemic!

  7. I just want to begin by saying how much I enjoy all the comments shared, and that as I read the pages of Fr. Henri’s journal, how many things he relates to us that just make me stop and absorb it a while… it’s really hard for me to pick out what to write about, too. I also really enjoyed the May 6 and May 13 entries about the Holy Spirit, as I have had a great awakening to this guiding power in my life in the last 2 years. I feel it is a missing link in our time as well, and I believe the knowledge of the Spirit in us is the freedom we need to share. I try to do this in all things, and with everyone in my life. “Living Christs here and now.”
    I could also relate to his friend Claire when he writes how she said “Do people really love me for who I am?” on March 30. I thought that many times growing up and at times when doubting myself as an adult, but now realizing that only God can give me the unconditional love that I long for… people are only human.
    I liked the analogy of the 2 triangles, April 28, one pointing up in the world, one pointing down not of the world but of service and care… and when the 2 are put on top of each other they form a star, a guiding and enlightening light (the Spirit again). And the analogy of the “little while”,May 16, waiting but not empty… full of expectation. The knowledge that God will fulfill the promise to renew everything… and all of history speaks of it when amidst all devastation and chaos, men and women arise who reveal the hope that lives within them…. a glimpse of the Kingdom during my “little while”. Faith, Hope and Love! I pray that I can stay connected with these gifts to do God’s will each day. It’s not always easy but as Fr. Henri reminds us in many ways, well worth it!

  8. May 15th entry: “ But still, it’s been a wonderful year. I did not write as much as I planned, but I wrote a lot, I did not pray as much as I planned, but my experience of God has deepened in my writing. I haven’t been as alone as I hoped, but I’ve had much more solitude than before.”. There is always a tension between expectations and accomplishments. Henri feels it in this entry, but acknowledges it as a sign of growth and not of failure. I find that when I make plans the reality of what is accomplished fall short of what was in my mind. I try to give myself some grace, especially when the plan was around my own spirituality, that perfection is never the goal. If I did not reach the goal line, how much farther along the path do I find myself, as compared with where I started? The distance covered is a cause for rejoicing, and the unmet distance an invitation for prayer and reflection. Sometimes I find that the untraveled distance is because another (side trail?) opened up, and it was this secondary path I followed for awhile. Was I being distracted, or following the Spirit’s leading? Sometimes the former, and other times the later. When it is the later I resonate with Henri’s last reflection for the May 15 journal entry: “ If I look back and compare what happened with what I anticipated, I realize that I can’t fruitfully predict what will happen. God must remain the God of surprises.”. Reading Henri’s words on this issue is affirming and encouraging, and leaves me feeling grateful.

    1. Sherman,
      I like your reflection that, ‘The distance covered is a cause for rejoicing, and the unmet distance an invitation for prayer and reflection.” As Henri expressed in the quote on page 166, he didn’t accomplish all that he planned. But I would add when do any of us do that! As he ends his diary for May 15: “I can’t fruitfully predict what will happen. God must remain the God of surprises.”

  9. This from p. 142: “We are called to break through the boundaries of nationality, race, sexual orientation, age, and mental capacities and create a unity of love that allows the weakest among us to live well.” Though written in 1996, what could be more relevant in 2021? I retired from full-time teaching two years ago, but I loved the curriculum that my colleagues and I created around appreciating the implications of the cultural markers of age, ability, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religion by reading great works of literature and personal narratives that called students to walk in the shoes of people outside their own personal realm of experience and belief. We encouraged focused research, interviews, and community service that would bring them in contact with organizations like L’Arche, Lutheran Refugee Services, etc. It was important for the students to see that people unlike themselves were not always the recipients of the students’ service and benevolence as the “weakest among us” but as strong LEADERS who could serve as models of courage, persistence, and resilience for the students. Henri certainly lived by such convictions. Oh, that everyone could!

    1. Elaine,
      You are certainly right about Henri’s thoughts from 1996 being relevant to our times. And that sounds like an important, young life molding curriculum that you and your colleagues developed. I venture to say that Henri would have approved!

  10. This comment was posted late last week. Slightly updating and posting again.


    Several of the comments last week were related to the “trapeze book” that Henri wanted to write based on his friendship with The Flying Rodleighs. Although Henri had a large amount of material collected, he was never able to write that book. And it remains unpublished to date. But that is likely to change later this year.

    All of Life in Nine Minutes by Henri Nouwen and his friend Carolyn Whitney-Brown is currently planned for publication by Harper One in November. According the publisher, this new book presents Nouwen’s “trapeze writings woven into a dramatic narrative that imagines Henri’s life flashing before him during his first heart attack. . . . Readers will meet Nouwen as a spiritual risk taker who was transformed by diversity as he learned to see the world through many perspectives. . . What will we do with our lives, and with whom will we do it? Through this story of flying and catching, Nouwen invites us all to let go and fly – and not be afraid to fall.”


  11. Like some of you, I too have been off the grid not keeping up with the reading. My city has begun to open up and I am faced with a watershed of work left undone! Perhaps the pace of Henri’s “Sabbatical Journey” adds another layer to my lack of peace!

    I agree with Ray’s remarks: “we gain insights into Henri’s hectic, fulfilling, and, at times, insecure life that we don’t glean from Henri’s other books, as personal as they may be.” That, and Sue Mosteller’s comment that Henri found it hard to live the spiritual life he wrote about, exposed my own dissonance between his early writing Out of Solitude and now Sabbatical Journey. It was reading Solitude and listening to his provocative case for silence, that that led me into deeper spiritual practice. It was in rythmic silence that he found intimacy at the Center and power to meet the demads of the day. His teaching became a benchmark of my spiritual practice. Sitting in silence, I experienced being held at the Center, creating an interior Cell to which I could turn throughout the day.

    Perhaps that practice of living life from the silent Center–rather than from the fragmented rim created interior strength in weakness over his lifetime. I don’t know. But I noticed that his frenetic pace was not pressured to just ‘catch up with his friends.’ Instead, it was a profound practice of what it means to be church in community with people. For instance, he prays with Frank in the car on the way to the airport, does communion with people he dines with and has confessional conversations both with individuals and groups. He interrupts his Sabbatical to fly back for Adam’s funeral. Henri’s life was incarnational seeming to say a little like Jesus the “Kingdom of God is within you” and it’s not just in the hereafter. Instead it’s here and now.

    That said, living it out as human frailty is not perfect. And he would be the first to say so. Last night I went to sleep reading his March 16 entry on Luke 18:11: “God thank you that I’m not like other people.” This Henri said, “is a very dangerous prayer. It is a prayer that lies all the time, because we are not the difference we try so hard to find. No, our deepest identity is rooted where we are like other people–weak, broken, sinful but sons and daughters of God.”

  12. This morning I read the entry for Monday, April 22. Henri is finalizing his address for a presentation on including people with disabilities in the Catholic liturgy. He settles on a theological reflection framed around the how we encounter God as Trinity: “ I decided to speak first about God’s vision that our human life is a mission to proclaim the unconditional love of God in this world. I turned next to Jesus’ way of vulnerability, which reveals God’s love for us in human brokenness. Finally I would speak about the work of the Spirit in the community of faith that comes together as a fellowship of the weak with the poor in the center.” The evening is a success on many levels, and I felt a certain joy in his description of how he included people with disabilities amidst his presentation. That act, it seems to me is the parable inviting us to see the new reality of what he was saying. Welcoming those, even (or especially) in their weakness, affirming their uniqueness and value as children of God, and inviting them not to be objects of a lesson given, but to be tellers of their own story, this incarnates the “work of the Spirit in the community of faith”. Was it this inclusive spirit that so moved Cardinal Bernardin? Seeing this unfold through Henri’s words these many years later also moved me. I could feel the joy present in that liturgy. While serving as a pastor of a suburban parish in Cleveland we had two members with disabilities. Barry was a young man with Down’s syndrome, and Emily a young woman who was a survivor of childhood brain cancer. Both regularly assisted with the distribution of communion. Occasionally I would hear from someone who thought that that they (the one commenting) was living without any sort of disability, that the service of one of these children of God made them uncomfortable. (This statement was usually offered in words like this, “Don’t you think it might make visitors uncomfortable?”.) I never removed Barry or Emily from the rotation list as worship assistants, and now reading Henri’s words feel affirmed for that decision. Thinking back on it now, I too feel joy at being a part of “a fellowship of the weak with the poor in the center.”

    1. Sherman, I am so glad to see your comment about your and Henri’s desire to model inclusivity and welcome “those, even (or especially) in their weakness, affirming their uniqueness and value as children of God, and inviting them not to be objects of a lesson given, but to be tellers of their own story, this incarnates the “work of the Spirit in the community of faith.” My daughter who teaches profoundly handicapped children speaks glowingly of the mainstream students who are willing to help her students to participate in modified art or physical education activities and to regard her students as “teammates” and “classmates” rather that pitiable objects of their charity. Hopefully such students would model their respect for human dignity if they one day become members of a church congregation like yours in Cleveland. My nephew with Down Syndrome makes a small “salary” from his job in a sheltered workshop but is so proud of being able to take his mom to dinner for $1 specials at McDonalds. I applaud the efforts of a local recycling company that hires low-functioning young adults with autism; the company discovered that this kind of work is a great fit for these folks. I applaud the social services group that discovered that troubled youth who previously found empowerment in violence against others could better channel that urge into helping to heal powerful raptors who had been seriously injured. Sometimes it just takes a bit of out-of-the-box thinking and a lot of vision and heart to address the many needs to affirm the human dignity of all.

      I am not surprised to see Henri’s affinity for Cardinal Bernardin’s promotion of the “seamless garment” concept of respect for and promotion of the human dignity of all regardless of age, ability, or social perceptions of worthiness. Although the concept has been parodied and politicized by various groups for their own agendas, I am grateful for those who embrace the broader spiritual interpretation that is consistent with our call to see everyone as neighbors whom we should love as ourselves.

  13. Monday, May 6, and follow-up on the Work of the Spirit, Peapack, Monday, May 13. “We are waiting for the Spirit to come. Are we really? This morning during the Eucharist I spoke a little about preparing ourselves for Pentecost just as we prepare ourselves for Christmas and Easter. Still, for most of us Pentecost is a nonevent….Each individual human being can claim the Spirit of Jesus as the guiding spirt of his or her life. In that Spirit we can speak and act freely and confidently with the knowledge that the same Spirit that inspired Jesus is inspiring us.” then especially all the entry about the Spirit on the May 13th entry. I find Henri Nouwen’s observations very astute. Went to Acts and read again the Pentecost scripture Acts 2 and, as I am reflecting, noticed that even there, there is evidence that some people acknowledged the Spirit and some people mocked It. The reason all of this is so relevant is that I believe that–in our time of history of the Church, it is harder to come to terms with the action of the Spirit in our lives. Too many people have exploited their experiences and only made them seem hocus pocus or something. Others, I believe, have had genuine experiences and have sought to explain them but been hurt by other Christians who couldn’t seem to absorb the reality for the person. I am thinking of one man I knew who had been baptized as an infant but then in maturity felt he had a Holy Spirit experience and was baptized again. The people of the congregation really wanted him to bring his whole experience into a “gradualist faith journey” as they all had had whereas he kept trying to strongly insist that something very special had suddenly happened to and within him and totally changed his relationship to God. The two perspectives just couldn’t seem to be reconciled and ultimately he left the congregation. Actually, I am thinking that, if as Henri Nouwen suggests, each year we spend some real time preparing more intentionally for Pentecost and actively studying Acts 2 and reflecting upon it with some wise Pastoral guidance, everyone could deal with our Holy Spirit experiences much better. Maybe there is a difference because there were 3,000 back then suddenly impacted and they had a greater chance of believability or something, than just singular persons here and there or something. It’s clear to me that Henri Nouwen himself had some Holy Spirit experiences that either he chose not to write about or I haven’t read about yet but they were very important to him and that he believed deep down that the same Spirit that was guiding him was the same Spirit of Jesus and that is key to his message throughout his life and ministry and writings and why so many respond and believe.

    1. Sharon,

      Thank your for this honest reflection. I so agree with Henri’s provocative Pentecost musing: “We are waiting for the Spirit to come. Are we really?” I am on board with you that all of us have had experiences with the Holy Spirit but have had little permission from the church nor teaching to properly language these experiences.

      Simply seeing the scriptures the Triune God is Three and One: God who created us, Jesus who saves us and the Holy Spirit who indwells us and companions us day by day. I’ve always been struck by Paul’s words to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:16): Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

      After the cross and Christ’s ascension to heaven he said to his disciples: “It is good for you that I go away that the Holy Spirit can come” (John 16:7). In the Greek language of the New Testament this Holy Spirit is described as a teacher, a comforter and a convicter of sin (see John 14). So the role of the Holy Spirit in the church today is tantamount to growing in Christian faith and applying faith to life in the here and now from where I stand.

      I think you are right that Henri had “Holy Spirit experiences.” When you think of him sitting every day for months contemplating Rembrandt’s “The Prodigal” and coming increasingly awarenss of a deep tangible Belovedness as God’s child, that is a Holy Spirit experience. It was the Spirit that descended on Jesus like a dove who said “You are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.” it’s the Holy Spirit descending on us Who is saying the same thing. Thank you for your comments that honor the role of the Holy Spirit in the church and our Christian life today. Come Holy Spirit, we need You!

      1. Beverly,
        Yes, indeed, “Come Holy Spirit.” I much appreciated your thoughts about the Holy Spirit in our lives. It would be good for all of us to place more thoughtful focus on the concept of Trinity in our Christian journey. The Triune God is all about “relationship,” I am told by Bible commentators. And, my goodness, do we as a nation and world need to think about being part of a relationship of love.

    2. Sharon,
      Two of the pages I bent for future reflection (those for May 6 and May 13) were those relating to Henri’s thoughts about Pentecost and the “coming of the Spirit of Jesus into the world.” This does seem an overlooked event, especially when compared with Christmas and Easter. As with you, Henri’s cogent reflections prompted my thinking about this with greater intention along with opening the Bible to Acts.

  14. Your opening quote from May 15 made me think that my most pronounced feeling from what I have read through mid-March is – I AM TIRED!! Henri Nouwen was the same age I am now when writing this, and his daily travel and interaction with yet another person/group, jumping on a bus to go to a birthday, flying across the country to meet a friend, etc….all had me thinking that I am tired just reading about it, much less keeping this schedule! I am commenting as someone who is not Catholic and not a theologian, who loves and reads Nouwen daily and has about 10 of his books, which I find calming and reassuring. This has been the first book making me feel frenetic. I somehow thought sabbatical came with rest as well as reflection and writing…..maybe not for theologians??

    1. I have heard Sr. Sue Mosteller say on several occasions that Henri found it difficult at times to live the spiritual life he wrote about so well. And while Henri was a treasured friend to Sue, Nathan, and many others, he wasn’t always an easy friend. I think we see that in his sabbatical journal. His frenetic pace during this year was driven, at least in part, by his anxiety and self-professed deep need for affirmation. Yet, we read how Henri realized this about himself and was contemplating changes when he returned to Daybreak. For me, the ability to see into Henri’s day-to-day life is one of the great rewards of this book.

      1. yes, it does give insight about the man himself. I have thought mostly about his writings, not the man who was writing and the variety of struggles he faced, despite his reputation and accomplishments. This journal does offer that personal view.

        1. Ray and Mary J,
          Your exchange here has given me some insights into a dear friend who similarly operates at a seemingly frenetic pace. Does Henri operate from a combination of the desire to serve as many people as possible in as many ways as possible, a call from God to use all of his abilities (writing, listening, speaking, conducting liturgies) in acts of loving service, innate features of personality, perhaps for affirmation, perhaps from an instinctive feeling that his days on earth are numbered? I have noticed that Henri’s friends seem to be forever available to pick him up from the airport, house him, feed him, listen to him, offer their opinions and insights, pay for some of his expenses, and pray for him and with him. Henri and his friends seem to have an understanding about the mutuality of friendship. Thanks to the two of you for raising this topic.

  15. Henri LOVED small group and one on one fellowship. Especially taking of communion. Leading the communion and sharing a short teaching seemed to be in his norm. But he also seemed to be able to dive into longer, deeper times of communion where everyone shared in the discussion. He had a long, lifelong history of formal church meetings, but during this Sabbatical year longed for and experienced the focus of his time with people to be people-centric and not as liturgical. He didn’t reject the liturgy, but sought to really experience God and God’s people more intimately is his time with people is smaller settings and through his writing. When he wrote about people, e.g. Rodleigh or Adam, he didn’t want to just give there history from the outside. He wanted to tell their stories as it both affected him, and as it drew out of him more understanding of who he was, is, and will be.

    The Rodleigh’s and writing their story over the course of the whole year seems to be one of his top passions. He has lots of aspirations for his future writing projects.

  16. Among the pages I bent back for future reference was the first entry mentioned by Ray: March 15. At least for me, the very heart of Jesus’ Gospel message is presented in his Great Commandment to love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul and to love our neighbor as ourselves (see versions in Matthew 22: 36-40; Mark 12:28-34; and Luke 10:27-28). This would have been most familiar to those listening to Jesus, since they are based on fundamental messages in the Hebrew Scriptures that he and his followers read and heard: The Shema from Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 and Leviticus 19:18.

    Further, as Henri notes, when we follow the first directive to love God, we “cannot do other than love our neighbor and our very selves. It is by being fully rooted in the heart of God that we are creatively connected with our neighbors and our deepest self” (p. 127). This key message from Jesus as interpreted by Henri is always relevant, though one not always practiced with care. Note, for example, the failure of some (political and even certain Christian leaders) in today’s world to forget about the “love your neighbor as yourself” imperative!

    Scott McKnight wrote a great book about this called the Jesus Creed.

    We all need Henri’s guidance today, perhaps more than ever, to strive for that “intimate communication with God that reveals to us how to live in the world and act in God’s Name” (p. 128).

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