I remember the day I got my first Henri Nouwen book like it was yesterday. I was all of twenty years old and working for the summer as a counselor at Camp Glisson. One of our friends, April Lew, had been telling us about Nouwen’s books and by some grace a copy of Life of the Beloved was given to me. I nor my relationship with God have ever been the same since.
Nouwen died on this day in 1996, just three years after I read his books for the first time. I remember how sad I was when I heard the news for I knew I would never get to meet personally this wise, gentle, amazing man as I had so hoped. But Nouwen’s words and spirit have comforted me time and time again as I sought out as many of his books as I can find (And that’s saying something…. this guy was seriously prolific!).
Today as I look back on Nouwen’s impact on my life and Christianity as a whole, I am so grateful for his life and legacy. He was not a perfect man, and in the end that is what makes him so very beautiful and endearing to me. He was an flawed man who lived with such vulnerability and love that he could not help but draw others closer to himself and his God.
So thanks be to God for Henri Nouwen. Sweet child of God cheer us on from that great cloud.
Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, “Prove you are a good person.” Another voice says, “You’d better be ashamed of yourself.” There is another voice that says, “Nobody really cares about you,” and one that says, “Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.” But underneath all these often very nasty voices is a still, small voice that says, “You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you.” That’s the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen. That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us, my Beloved.”
-Henri Nouwen from Life of the Beloved
Life of the Beloved is still my favorite, followed by The Return on the Prodigal Son which was inspired by the Rembrandt painting above. Do you have a favorite Nouwen book or quote?