Henri Nouwen Daily

Mar 27
“God made a covenant with us. The word covenant means “coming together.” God wants to come together with us. In many of the stories in the Hebrew Bible, we see that God appears as a God who defends us against our enemies, protects us against dangers, and guides us to freedom. God is God-for-us. When Jesus comes a new dimension of the covenant is revealed. In Jesus, God is born, grows to maturity, lives, suffers, and dies as we do. God is God-with-us. Finally, when Jesus leaves he promises the Holy Spirit. In the Holy Spirit, God reveals the full depth of the covenant. God wants to be as close to us as our breath. God wants to breathe in us, so that all we say, think and do is completely inspired by God. God is God-within-us. Thus God’s covenant reveals to us to how much God loves us.”

Mar 26
“But God’s forgiveness is unconditional; it comes from a heart that does not demand anything for itself, a heart that is completely empty of self-seeking. It is this divine forgiveness that I have to practice in my daily life. It calls me to keep stepping over all my arguments that say forgiveness is unwise, unhealthy, and impractical. It challenges me to step over all my needs for gratitude and compliments. Finally, it demands of me that I step over that wounded part of my heart that feels hurt and wronged and that wants to stay in control and put a few conditions between me and the one whom I am asked to forgive.”

“I have often said, “I forgive you,” but even as I said these words my heart remained angry and resentful. I still wanted to hear the story that tells me that I was right after all; I still wanted to hear apologies and excuses; I still wanted the satisfaction of receiving some praise in return – if only the praise for being so forgiving! But God’s forgiveness is unconditional…”

Mar 25
“The inward man is faced with a new and often dramatic task: He must come to terms with the inner tremendum. Since the God ‘out there’ or ‘up there’ is more or less dissolved in the many secular structures, the God within asks attention as never before. And just as the God outside could be experienced not only as a loving father but also as a horrible demon, the God within can be not only the source of a new creative life but also the cause of a chaotic confusion.
The greatest complaint of the Spanish mystics St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross was that they lacked a spiritual guide to lead them along the right paths and enable them to distinguish between creative and destructive spirits. We hardly need emphasize how dangerous the experimentation with the interior life can be. Drugs as well as different concentration practices and withdrawal into the self often do more harm than good. On the other hand it also is becoming obvious that those who avoid the painful encounter with the unseen are doomed to live a supercilious, boring and superficial life.”

“Often we come home from a sharing session with a feeling that something precious has been taken away from us or that holy ground has been trodden upon.”

Mar 24
“Why should a man marry and have children, study and build a career; why should he invent new techniques, build new institutions, and develop new ideas—when he doubts if there will be a tomorrow which can guarantee the value of human effort?
Crucial here for nuclear man is the lack of a sense of continuity, which is so vital for a creative life. He finds himself part of a nonhistory in which only the sharp moment of the here and now is valuable. For nuclear man life easily becomes a bow whose string is broken and from which no arrow can fly. In his dislocated state he becomes paralyzed. His reactions are not anxiety and joy, which were so much a part of existential man, but apathy and boredom.”

“While my friend always spoke about the sun, I kept speaking about the clouds, until one day I realized that it was the sun that allowed me to see the clouds.”

Mar 23
“The great spiritual task facing me is to so fully trust that I belong to God that I can be free in the world—free to speak even when my words are not received; free to act even when my actions are criticized, ridiculed, or considered useless…. I am convinced that I will truly be able to love the world when I fully believe that I am loved far beyond its boundaries.”

“In solitude we realize that nothing human is alien to us.”

Mar 22
“It is this nothingness (in solitude) that I have to face in my solitude, a nothingness so dreadful that everything in me wants to run to my friends, my work, and my distractions so that I can forget my nothingness and make myself believe that I am worth something. The task is to persevere in my solitude, to stay in my cell until all my seductive visitors get tired of pounding on my door and leave me alone. The wisdom of the desert is that the confrontation with our own frightening nothingness forces us to surrender ourselves totally and unconditionally to the Lord Jesus Christ.”

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