Item 1584 - Drawing closer to God and man

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CA ON00389 F4-9-1-1584


Drawing closer to God and man


  • May 1976 (Creation)

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7 p. of textual records

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This item is a 7 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘Drawing Closer to God and Man’ published in Sign, May 1976, Vol. 55, No. 8, pp. 10 – 16. This is part two of a two part article (see Sign, April 1976). It is an excerpt from, Nouwen, Henri: The Genesee Diary, Report from a Trappist Monastery. In this article Nouwen continues to reflect on his 7 month stay at the Abbey of the Genesee in New York State. Nouwen reflects on a number of aspects of his experience under some of the following headings: 1) Boring Work. Nouwen finds the boredom of the manual labor he is given each day makes him feel angry and frustrated. Under the guidance of the Abbot, he begins to discover that ‘manual work, indeed, unmasks my illusions, it shows how I am constantly looking for interesting, exciting, distracting activities to keep my mind away from the confrontation with my nakedness, powerlessness, mortality’. 2) Silence. In this section Nouwen describes his growing awareness of the ambiguous feelings that arise in him when he talks too much and does not seek silence. 3) Scheduled Prayer. In seeking a deep prayer life for his return to his busy work, Nouwen is advised by the Abbot to have a scheduled time of prayer daily that can never be broken without permission of his spiritual advisor. 4) Monastic Capitalism. Nouwen discusses in this section his experience of the marketing wisdom of the monks in the selling of their bread. 5) Center of the world. Abbot Eudes describes the monastery as ‘the center of the world’. Nouwen reflects that ‘Insofar as the monastery is the place where the presence of God in the world is most explicitly manifest and brought to consciousness, it is indeed the center of the world’. 6) Total Commitment. Nouwen asks the Abbot about total commitment because ‘I have had a glimpse of the reality of being unconditionally committed to Christ in a total surrender to him. In that glimpse, I also saw how divided I still am, how hesitantly I commit myself, with what reluctance I surrender’. 7) Thanksgiving. Nouwen has been asked to speak to the community about his experience with them. He speaks in terms of The Lord, the world, the brethren, and the saints and what he has learned of each. 8) Epilogue. Nouwen writes the epilogue more than 6 months after he has left the Abbey and reflects on how little he feels the experience has changed him. However, he sees it as having given him strength to support him in ‘the Garden of Gethsemane and the long, dark night of life’.

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Published in The Sign 55, no. 8 (May 1976): 10-16.
Item contains 5 b&w photographs of Nouwen, taken by Anthony Weber, during his sabbatical with the Trappists.
Item is 2 of a series of 2 articles. See also Published works - item 1582.
Item is an excerpt from: Nouwen, Henri, The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery,Image Books, Doubleday & Company Inc., Garden City, New York, 1976.

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2000 01


Box 294

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