Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life by Henri J.M. Nouwen
The immensity of Henri Nouwen’s faith is only overshadowed by the joyful spirit of his care for others. In this collection of Henri’s letters, written to friends, family, and many people seeking wise counsel, Henri gives his beautiful life as an example to help others in their struggles. The wonderful truth is that in Henri’s lifetime he received 16,000 pieces of correspondence to which he replied to each and every one.
The genuineness of these letters brings out Henri’s personality and his amazing ability to speak so honestly about himself in these letters. After speaking at a conference, Henri writes to his friend Ed who asked him to come, “But don’t feel guilty about any of this. I just tell you this as a friend. It was a good fatigue, a good emptiness and a good exhaustion. I did not feel angry or anything like that. In fact I felt grateful to you, and all the kind people. But I also realized that this should not happen too often and that I am responsible to indicate my own limits.” (18) In another part of the letters, Henri addresses Jim who is facing the breakdown of his marriage, “In no way do I even think that there was something wrong or lacking from the beginning. This makes it all the more incomprehensible, the more unreasonable. There are few explanations that help you. I keep having the deep sense that you are being tested very deeply.” (38) Henri feels deeply here but also realizes the unreasonableness of offering certain explanations to his friend.
Henri’s faith was a pathway that few can follow, and yet he reminds us that encouraging people in their place is part of that path. He writes to Chris about the AIDS epidemic that took many lives and friends of Henri. He writes, “I know life is very hard for you during this plague of AIDS. I lost a dear friend in San Francisco last month. I was glad that we could see each other before his death and give him the Sacrament of the sick.” (113) Henri could relate to many people in all walks of life because he befriended as many as confided in him. His emphatic heart led him into the sufferings of others with uncanny wisdom and a deep sense of sharing in their weakness.
I know you will be moved by these letters as Henri explored all of life with those who wrote to him.
Thanks to Blogging for Books for the review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.