Book Review: Spiritual Direction

Name & author:  Spiritual Direction, Henri Nouwen

Why are you reading this book? 

I’ll read just about anything by Henri Nouwen. He was a theologian, professor, and counselor, and he’s one of those writers whose words speak straight to my soul. His style is simple but articulate and easily speaks into both emotional and rational aspects of faith. He’s one of the people I would love to get coffee with and just listen to whatever he wanted to talk about. This particular book is actually a collection of his course material and unpublished writings, although it flows together so well that I would never have guessed if the preface didn’t say so.

What’s the first line of the first chapter?

As we begin this journey together in spiritual direction, I want to invite you to create space for God in your life.

So, what did you think?

I posted a quote from it in my last blog post if that’s any indication. Each chapter is title a basic question that everyone asks themselves: Who will answer my questions? Who is God for me? Where do I belong? Where do I go from here? Using a lot of his own story, he addresses the ways to go about responding to these questions. It was humbling for me to read about this well-respected writer & professor of theology and psychology share his vulnerabilities, doubts, and struggles in faith. In the later part of his life he served in L’Arche Daybreak, a community for people with disabilities and their assistants, and he says this of working and living with the disabled:

We can’t fix their problems or even answer their questions. We dare to be with others in mutual vulnerability and ministry precisely because God is a God who suffers with us and calls us to gratitude and compassion in the midst of pain. You cannot solve all the world’s problems, but you can be with people in their problems and questions with your simple presence, trusting that joy also will be found there. As Mother Teresa was fond of saying, “Jesus does not call you to be successful, but to be faithful.

Is it worth …. 

__  collecting dust on the bookshelf

__  reading again and again

X   recommending to friends

__   trashing

Anything else to add?

This is a great book to read with someone else, especially in a mentoring or discipleship format. Each chapter ends with some devotional material and questions to think about, which would be great to then go through with a friend or mentor. I would definitely recommend this.

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