Posted May 16, 2006
Book: Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith
Author: Henri J. M. Nouwen
Harper San Francisco, CA. [Yet to be published, taken from a review copy]
2006. Pp. 170
An Excerpt from the Jacket:
Henri Nouwen, well-known author and priest, understood the spiritual life as
a journey of faith and transformation, deepened by accountability,
community, and relationships. Now, two of Nouwen's longtime students have
taken his famous course on spiritual direction and uupplemented it with his
unpublished writings to present the definitive work on Nouwen's thought on
the Christian life. Reading this book will be like entering into a
relationship with Nouwen as your spiritual director. Stories, readings, and
questions for personal reflection and guided journal writing are
thematically organized to provide an unparalleled resource for each person's
walk of faith.
An Excerpt from the Book:
One day a young fugitive, trying to hide himself from the enemy, entered a
small village. The people were kind to him and offered him a place to stay.
But when the soldiers who sought the fugitive asked where he was hiding,
everyone became very fearful. The soldiers threatened to burn the village
and kill every person in it, unless the young man was handed over to them
before dawn. The people went to the Rabbi and asked him what to do. Torn
between handing over the boy to the enemy and having his people killed, the
Rabbi withdrew to his room and read his Bible, hoping to find and answer
before dawn. In the early morning his eyes fell on these words: "It is
better that one man dies than that the whole people be lost."
Then the Rabbi closed the Bible, called the soldiers, and told them where
the boy was hidden. And after the soldiers led the fugitive away to be
killed, there was a feast in the village because the Rabbi had saved the
lives of the people. But the Rabbi did not celebrate. Overcome with a deep
sadness, he remained in his room. That night an angel came to him and asked,
"What have you done?" He said: "I have handed over the fugitive to the
enemy." Then the angel said: 'But don't you know that you have handed over
the Messiah?" How could I know?' the Rabbi replied anxiously. Then the
angel said: "If, instead of reading your Bible, you had visited this young
man just once and looked into his eyes, you would have known."
Are we not challenged in daily life to look deeper into the eyes of the
people we encounter - even those who are running away from something - and
to see in them the face of God? Perhaps just knowing that they, too, are
beloved children of God will be enough to prevent us from handing them over
to the enemy. Are we not also challenged and encouraged to look more deeply
at the way God sees us - beloved, accepted, affirmed, and worthy of
salvation? Are we, like the fugitive, reflections of the Messiah?
Table of Contents:
Part One: Look within to the Heart
1. Who eill answer my question?
2. Where do I begin?
3. Who am I?
4. Where have I been and where am I going?
Part Two: Look to God in the Book
5. What is prayer?
6. Where do I begin?
7. Who am I?
Part Three: Look to Others in Community
8. Where do I belong?
9. How can I be of service?
Epilogue Where do I go from here?
Appendices: Living the questions: The parable of Henri Nouwen