N is for NOUWEN

I was intimidated by MERTON, but I would have like to have been friends with NOUWEN. His writings resonate with me on almost every level. They don’t necessarily confront me, rather I find in them an immense source of comfort.

I first met Henri Nouwen when a friend recommended a movie about his life. The film told the struggle of a soul who searched for belonging and acceptance, as most of us do.

I think his book, “The Living Reminder” has meant the most to me. Most people gravitate to “The Wounded Healer,” or “The Return of the Prodigal Son,” both excellent books!

Yet, I found a gentleness and a freedom in “The Living Reminder” that helped me overcome the idea that I had to be and do so much for others. It helped dissipate much of the anxiety I had over being a Spiritual leader. His teaching let me off the hook for being responsible for the world.

He has a genuineness about his teaching and his expression that reaches me.

You can actually experience some of his teachings on YouTube. He speaks in great depth about being “Beloved sons and daughters of God.” He calls to us a life, based on that knowledge.

“Easy?” he asks. “No.” he replies, in a thick Dutch accent.

Two of my favorite Nouwen quotes:

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”


“Those who love us do not always love us well.”

I encourage you to seek out this great theologian, a humble catholic priest, author of some 39 books, and hundreds of articles on living a life of belonging. There is much you can lean.


3 thoughts on “N is for NOUWEN

  1. I appreciate this, especially the last quote–which I am immediately writing in my journal. Is that from the book you mentioned? If so, that is the one I shall start with. I very much like the idea of not being responsible for the world.

    1. As far as I’ve been able to discern, the second quote is either from a sermon, or from an article he wrote about being wounded by those who love us. It is NOT from the book “The Living Reminder.” This book is more about releasing others to God’s care, while being an example, or a living reminder, as he calls it.

  2. Yes, a world of wisdom and and permission to be loved by broken people. I have also found freedom there, to accept the fact that I can love people in spite of my own failings to do it perfectly!

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