Henri Nouwen: Bread for the Journey

As a longtime Henri Nouwen groupie, I have treasured his inspirational words of faith in so many of his books (!) but this daily devotional has provided particularly rich insights. I read several dailies every morning, after doing a major rotation shuffle each January (this year’s stack includes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Oscar Romero, Catherine Doherty, Fulton Sheen, Padre Pio, Oswald Chambers & Daily Strength for Daily Needs.) Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey, however, has remained in the daily reading pile every year since the ’90s. My tattered copy has weathered international living (conflict zones inclusive), altho I was pleased to find a tiny edition in Nairobi easy to tuck away for rural travel…

What makes this daily devotional so inspirational?  I guess after so many years of reading the same pages, it’s amazing to see previously underlined passages in a new light and then find un-highlighted words jump off the page, straight to mind and heart.  Henri Nouwen’s publishers asked him to select texts from his previous works for a daybook, but he jumped on the idea to write new ones.  So he bought beautifully crafted blank museum books – five – and gradually filled them by hand with 367 reflections covering prayer, solitude, silence, faith, the Word, sacrament, and most importantly as Nouwen writes in the introduction, “about Jesus, the center of my faith.”

“…Words can offer perspective, insight, understanding, and vision… bring consolation, comfort encouragment and hope…Words can reconcile, unite, forgive and heal…Words can carry love on their wings…When our words become flesh in our own lives and the lives of others, we can change the world. Jesus is the word made flesh. In Him speaking & acting were one.”  (from 22 June)

After teaching theology at Yale and Harvard Divinity Schools, this brilliant Dutch priest spent many years at L’Arche Daybreak in Toronto where he lived in community with people with developmental disabilities until his death in 1996.  As Henri Nouwen spoke and acted from a heart of faith, may his words continue to bring consolation, hope and inspiration so that our speaking & acting may be one…

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6 Responses to Henri Nouwen: Bread for the Journey

  1. Cindy Kranich says:

    Va., Sounds like a great devotional book, one for all seasons! –c.

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