Monday, October 25, 2010

A Nod to Nouwen

Three months ago, J and I spent part of a day at the Abbey of the Genesee in New York, where Henri J. M. Nouwen spent seven months, and wrote The Genesee Diary: report from a Trappist monastery. Last week, I finished reading the Diary, and once again experienced the sense of sadness I feel when I have read the final sentence in a book I've loved. Do any of you feel something similar at the end of a cherished book, as though a dear friend walked out the door?

Nouwen's honest writing about his painful struggles while in the monastery include excellent entries about prayer, the psalms, manual labor, community, moodiness, the need for approval, and the communion of saints. His dedication which precedes the book's opening pages reads as follows: "To all contemplative men and women who by their commitment to unceasing prayer offer us hope in the midst of a troubled world."

I commend this book to you, and I hope that Nouwen's descriptions of baking the abbey's Monk's Bread (famous in upstate New York) will make you prayerful over the next piece of bread that you eat.


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