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Henri Nouwen fonds
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Henri Nouwen fonds

  • CA ON00389 F4
  • Fonds
  • 1910 - 1997, 1964 - 1996 predominant

Fonds consists of 15 series:

  1. Manuscripts
  2. General files
  3. Calendar files
  4. Personal records
  5. Publisher files
  6. Financial files
  7. Teaching materials
  8. Nouwen’s education records and study notes
  9. Published works
  10. Video recordings of Nouwen
  11. Sound recordings
  12. Collected materials
  13. L'Arche Daybreak administrative files
  14. Ephemera and artifacts
  15. Photographs

Nouwen, Henri J.M.

Collected audio cassettes

Sub-series consists of 54 audio cassettes collected by Nouwen. The sub-series contains commercial and non-commercial audio cassettes.

Collected non-commercial audio cassettes

File consists of 11 non-commercial audio cassette tapes collected by Nouwen. Audio cassettes include:

Beloved child - SR232
F. Entrevista - SR233
Fr. Mathew Klety/Thomas Ronseitz on Jane Norton - SR234
Filartiga tape - SR235
Geschichten das at - SR236
Harry Booth - SR237 (possibly a letter on tape)

Tony Melendez - SR238 (possibly a letter on tape)

Elie Wiesel: Hasidic laughter - SR239
Elie Wiesel: Hasidic grandeur - SR240
Elie Wiesel: Hasidic melancholy - SR241
Elie Wiesel: Hasidic wisdom - SR242

Collected commercial audio cassettes

File consists of 43 commercial audio cassette tapes collected by Nouwen. Audio cassettes include:

Stages of Contemplation: The presence of God - SR189
Stages of Contemplation: Praying in the spirit - SR190
Stages of Contemplation: Marriage: Call to contemplation - SR191
Stages of Contemplation: The process of contemplation - SR192
Stages of Contemplation: Growing in prayer - SR193
Stages of Contemplation: To be Eucharist - SR194
Sister Jose Hobday, OSF: Fidelity to remembering - SR195
Sister Jose Hobday, OSF: Coming home and passing over - SR196
Sister Jose Hobday, OSF: The enfleshed heart of life - SR197
Sister Jose Hobday, OSF: Desert fertility - SR198
Sister Jose Hobday, OSF: The hidden and the revealed - SR199
Sister Jose Hobday, OSF: Brokenness - SR200
Sister Jose Hobday, OSF: The call to harmony - SR201
Sister Jose Hobday, OSF: Retreat and reentry - SR202
"CNN Report": Palm Sunday by K. Himle / 4/4/1993 - SR203
Most significant civil rights case of the decade by David Brown - SR204
The common sense of God - SR205
King of the Nation - SR206
Taking care of business: Called or driven by Bob Buford - SR207

Prophets for today - Cardinal John O'Connor - SR208
Abortion and race genocide - SR209
The war against population by Dr. Kasun - SR210
Christ in the New Testament 3/29/92 - SR211
The Nurturing Network: Pro-life in a pro-choice world - SR212
The Nurturing Network: "Practical idealism: Compassion in action" - SR213
The Nurturing Network: How to build an effective social ministry - SR214

2451 of Rumi and apocalypse with Andrew Harvey - SR215

Creating an inner path for real magic: Applying real magic awareness in everyday life I - SR216
Creating an inner path for real magic: Applying real magic awareness in everyday life II - SR217
Creating an inner path for real magic: Applying real magic awareness in everyday life III - SR218
Creating an inner path for real magic: Applying real magic awareness in everyday life IV - SR219
How can I help? - SR220 (sent to Nouwen from B. Crowley)
The liturgical year - SR221 (given to Sue and Kathy from Bob [last name unknown])
Joni Earekson Tada 11/8/92 - SR222
Michael Kelly Blanchard and selected topics - SR223
Fr. William: Hesychasm: Introduction #201 - SR224
Fr. William: Hesychasm: Desert fathers and doctrine #202 - SR225
Fr. William: Hesychasm: Gnosis #203 - SR226
Fr. William: Hesychasm: and poverty #204 - SR227
Fr. William: Hesychasm and celibacy & Hescichasm and encrateia - SR228

Fr. William: Hesychasm and fasting & hesychasm and moral life - SR229
Fr. William: Hesychasm - The Jesus prayer first conference - SR230
Fr. William: Hesychasm - The Jesus prayer second conference - SR231

Course lectures, handouts, reading, and student notes

Sub-series consists of bound volumes of materials and loose documents created and used by Nouwen for his teaching positions various academic institutions in both North America and Europe. This includes reading notes, preparation notes, lecture notes, typed lecture summaries, course handouts and syllabi, many of which are heavily annotated by Nouwen. It also includes lectures, letters, notes, assignments and course evaluations produced by Nouwen's students and teaching assistants. In addition to the course-specific bound volumes, there are two bound volumes that are labelled as "miscellaneous class material" that relate to Nouwen's early career from 1959 to 1976. This sub-series has been divided into 22 sub-sub series based on the course titles and subjects which Nouwen taught between 1961 and 1994, except for one sub-sub series involving the two-volume set of collected class materials mentioned above.
The sub-sub series are:

  1. Developmental Psychology
  2. Psychology of Personality
  3. Abnormal Psychology
  4. Psychology of Religion
  5. Pastoral Care
  6. Christian Spirituality
  7. Ministry to the Elderly
  8. Hospitality
  9. Discipline and Discipleship
  10. Prison Ministry
  11. Collected Class Materials
  12. The Life and Works of Thomas Merton
  13. Ministry and Spirituality
  14. Ministry in Non-Religious Institutions
  15. The Ministry of Vincent Van Gogh
  16. Compassion
  17. Education and Community
  18. Hesychasm
  19. Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry
  20. Spiritual Direction / Spiritual Life and Spiritual Direction
  21. Introduction to the Spiritual Life
  22. Early Dutch course material

Rabbula: Icon of glory file

File consists of materials relating to the Rabbula: Icon of Glory, these materials include three photographs of icons with a sticky in S. Ron's hand: "The Slide Program Icon Glory will offer the information on these."; two audio cassette tapes of the slide show and a paper copy of a slide show. The file also contains a manuscript pertaining to Rabbula Gospel. The materials appear to have been given to Nouwen by S. Ron.

Administrative resources files

Series consists of administrative resources files which were maintained for Nouwen by Nouwen's administrative staffs from 1983 to 1997. These files contain materials collected by Nouwen in order to assist him with his roles as pastor, writer, researcher, and friend. In addition to subject-based material such as newspaper clippings and brochures, it is evident that Nouwen's administrative assistants at Daybreak used these files to hold administrative material related to liturgical events such as Christmas, Lent, and Easter, as well as other aspects of Nouwen's duties in the community. These files were likely maintained as a resource for Nouwen regarding his daily work.

The titles of the files are taken directly from the file labels created by Nouwen and his administrative assistants, unless otherwise noted. The files are arranged by subject or topic (such as Latin America, Vincent van Gogh, or Abbey of the Genesee), are in alphabetical order, and materials within the files have been maintained chronologically. Many of the materials have been placed in this series because they contain annotations, either by Nouwen or an assistant, saying "File" with the subject or name or "File - Resource files."

Tapes of Thomas Merton talks

  • CA ON00389 F4-12-1-SR168, SR169, SR170, SR171, SR172, SR173, SR174
  • File
  • [after 1972]
  • Part of Henri Nouwen fonds

File consists of seven audio cassettes of Thomas Merton talks given to the monks and the community of the Abbey of Gethsemani and later published by Electronic Paperbacks in 1972. The seven audio cassettes, from a published collection of twelve called "The Merton Tapes", include numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12.

Materials regarding Thomas Merton

Sub-series consists of materials collected by Nouwen related to Thomas Merton. Sub-series includes newspaper articles, mimeographed letters from Merton, several copies of Merton’s manuscripts and several of Merton’s commercially produced audio cassette recordings of his talks to the monks and community of the Abbey of Gethsemani. Sub-series also contains Nouwen’s own records of the materials he collected on Merton. Sub-series also includes materials relating to Merton’s death in 1968 and homilies of funeral services held in his honour.

Sound recordings of Nouwen's interviews with the Flying Rodleighs

File consists of twelve audio cassettes containing the audio recordings of the interviews with The Flying Rodleigh members and Nouwen from November 1991 and May 1992. SR176 v.1 and SR176 v.2 are of Nouwen recording his thoughts and impressions regarding the Flying Rodleighs and their trapeze act.

SR176 v.1 - Flying Rodleighs Part 1 & 2
SR176 v.2 - Flying Rodleighs Part 3
SR176 v.3 - Jon -- History Jonathan
SR176 v.4 - Johan Jonas - Nov. 15/91
SR176 v.5 - Johan Jonas Interview @ Nouwen and talk with Kailene (Karlene Stevens' daughter)
SR176 v.6 - Jennifer Stevens; Lombart
SR176 v.7 - Karlene Specks [sic] About Costumes
SR176 v.8 - Karlene: History
SR176 v.9 - Rodleigh: 1st tape both sides
SR176 v.10 - Rodleigh - 2nd tape both sides
SR176 v.11 - Description of Trapeze act by Rodleigh
SR176 v.12 - Steve (2): H. Nouwen

Collected materials

Series consists of material collected by Nouwen on topics, people, and issues of interest. Nouwen used this material for articles, books, lectures, talks, sermons, general interest, and as reference for his duties as pastor, friend, researcher, and writer. Includes journal articles, books, sound recordings, newspaper clippings, photographs, newsletters, and manuscripts. See sub-series level descriptions for more detail.

The series has been arranged in the following six sub-series:
1.12.1. Materials regarding Thomas Merton
1.12.2. Circus material (excluding unpublished manuscripts which are located in the Manuscript Series)
1.12.3. Collected articles
1.12.4. Collected audio cassettes
1.12.5. Postcards and icons
1.12.6. Materials regarding Seward Hiltner

Recording of Henri Nouwen at Trent Clergy Conference June 1991

Item consists of a sound recording of talks Nouwen gave at the 1991 Diocesan Clergy Conference for the Anglican Church of Canada between June 3 and June 5, 1991. The Conference took place in Peterborough, Ontario at the Trent Conference Centre. The theme of the conference was "Living the Spiritual Life - A Conference of Priestly Spirituality". SR159 v1: "Monday evening" [cassette consists of music]; SR159 v2: "Tuesday morning"; SR159 v3: "Tuesday afternoon"; SR159 v4 "Tuesday evening"; SR159 v5 "Wednesday morning".

Recording of an interview of Henri Nouwen with Peter Modler

Item consists of a sound recording of an interview of Nouwen with Peter Modler. Nouwen speaks on his experience at the Genesee Abbey. This tape appears to be the original recording for a tape later produced by Verlag Herder entitled "Auf die Stiller Horen". The interview is in German.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on That all may worship conference

Item consists of a recording of a talk given by Nouwen at the Pathways Awareness Foundation conference "That all May Worship" held on April 22, 1996, a conference to talk about including people with mental disabilities in worship. Nouwen's talk was entitled "The Vulnerable Journey". He spoke about 1.) the vision of God (our belovedness); 2.) the way of Jesus; 3.) the work of the Spirit. Cardinal Bernadin gave the opening address. The conference took place at St. Monica Parish, Chicago.
This talk is referenced in Sabbatical Journey entry on Apr 22 where he describes his preparation and events of the day including lunch with Cardinal Bernardin.

Recording of auf die stille horen

Item consists of a sound recording (SR153) of an interview of Nouwen with Peter Modler in Freiburg, Germany. Nouwen speaks on his experience at the Genesee Abbey and being the Beloved.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on the Covenant Commission Retreat

Item consists of six audio cassettes of talks given at the Commission Covenant Retreat held in May 1994. The Retreat was for L'Arche community leadership about how members are living their covenant as part of L'Arche Community. SR145 v1: "Robert - Opening the Dialogue"; SR145 v2: "Claire - The Meaning of Human Affectivity"; SR145 v3: "Jo Lenon - Sexual Education: How to Educate"; SR145 v4: "North American Culture and the Plan of God"; SR145 v5: "Henri Nouwen - Personal Growth"; SR145 v6: "Margaret O'Donnell - The Needs in our Cities Today".

Recording of Henri Nouwen at Comiss awards

Item consists of a recording of Nouwen at the Dialogue '94: A Call to Partnership conference sponsored by Comiss at the Milwaukee Exposition and Convention Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Nouwen received the Comiss award which is presented periodically to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of Pastoral Care, Counseling and Education.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on Seeds of faith: Henri Nouwen talks with Mike Ford

Item consists of a sound recording of a broadcast of an interview of Nouwen with Mike Ford. The interview took place on August 28, 1992 in Northampton, and was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on July 11, 1993. Mike Ford introduces Nouwen, and explains how his own interest in Nouwen grew through reading Nouwen's book, "Reaching Out." Nouwen discusses with Ford in the interview how seeing a poster of the Rembrandt painting "Return of the Prodigal Son" at a L'Arche community in Northern France evoked a feeling of homecoming in Nouwen. He recounts his trip to Leningrad to see the original painting, and his growing awareness that he can see himself as all three major figures in the painting: the younger son (through the feeling of coming home), the elder son (who still holds onto anger), and the father (Nouwen's role as a father receiving others home). Nouwen also discusses the challenges that arise when living in a community.

Recording of Henri Nouwen for an R.C.I.A. course

Item consists of sound recordings made by Nouwen during his writing sabbatical in Freiburg, Germany for an R.C.I.A. course in Toronto. The tapes were not numbered by Nouwen, but the subjects have been identified in Nouwen's hand. SR130v1: "Creed III, Jesus: God- with- us"; SR130v2: "18th March 1993, Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead, 15 minutes"; SR130v3: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, 15 minutes."

Recording of Henri Nouwen for an R.C.I.A. course

Item consists of sound recordings made by Nouwen during his writing sabbatical in Freiburg, Germany for an R.C.I.A. course in Toronto. Titles for the tapes include:
SR133v1"About God the Creator, Henri Nouwen, Jan. 1993";
SR133v2"About Jesus the Reedemer [sic], Henri Nouwen, Feb. 1993";

  • SR133v.2_a – 46:31 (ends at 14:40)

Nouwen begins with, “Dear friends. It is good to be with you again.” It is a letter, and he is speaking just to the recorder. He says he is enjoying his time in Freiburg, and is getting rested and is excited to begin writing again. He arrived very exhausted, but is feeling better now, and is grateful to be in Freiburg.

He continues talking about the creed and Jesus. He discusses the second statement of the creed, which is, “I believe in Jesus Christ.”

Jesus is the redeemer, the savior. We have to have a personal understanding of our need to be saved. If you don’t feel the need to be saved from anything, then you can hardly be excited about a savior. He talked before about God as a creator, and in the Genesis story, God wanted to be sure that the human person would remain obedient to him, and would remain centered on Him who has created man. The question of what is good and what is evil is God’s question, and we cannot decide that. We consider the story about the fall and sin of Adam and Eve, and it is a story in which the human person forgets that he or she is not God. He or she can only be truly happy, really, truly, fully human, when he or she continues to give honour to the God who has created him or her.

If we look at the journey of the Jewish people as is written in the Old Testament, we see that one of the main temptations is the temptation of idolatry. We are always tempted to forget that God is God and not we. We give power to created beings or created ideas or created events, and before we know it, we expect of other beings something that only God can give. We expect from events, ideas, books, art, music, something that only God can give. This temptation is constant, and it always gets us into trouble because we have a heart that will only truly be satisfied with perfect fulfillment, and only God can give that. This idolatry traps us, makes us victims, and it makes us addicted. We are trapped there, like we are trapped in drugs or alcohol, we can be trapped by desires for fame or success, or money, and so on. We need someone to un-trap us. Jesus is the savior, the one who comes to get us out of our trap, to redeem us from our imprisonment, to set us free. Only God will satisfy the deepest desires of the heart. Only God loves us in a way that corresponds to the desires of our heart.

Nouwen concludes by saying he is missing everyone, and is grateful to Nathan [Ball] that he visited. He says it is wonderful that in this way [the tapes] they can support each other and keep each other’s faith and support each other’s hopes.
SR133v3 "The Resurrection of Jesus #4, Henri Nouwen, Feb. 1993";

  • SR133v.3_a – 46:46 (ends at 22:51)

Nouwen begins with “Dear friends,” like a letter. He says he has just returned from France, where he attended the funeral of Pere Thomas, the co-founder of L’Arche, and a very holy man with great spiritual vision, that gave Nouwen and many others a great amount of spiritual support. Pere Thomas was the man who gave the vision to Jean Vanier of L’Arche and to many others who came to him.

Nouwen reflects in this talk on resurrection, and how the death of Pere Thomas deepened his hope for the resurrection and his faith in the resurrection. The resurrection is the central point of his faith. In the creed it says, “Jesus descended to the dead. On the third day, he rose again.” Jesus was born among us, lived among us, suffered among us, and died among us. In this, God was with us in every respect.

The resurrection of Jesus was the event from which we have come to understand everything else. Without the resurrection, everything else that we say about Jesus loses its meaning. Nouwen reads from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, the 15th chapter, and summarizes that our hope in the resurrection is based on our faith in the resurrection of Jesus. “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without substance, and so is our faith.” The resurrection of Jesus, therefore, gives meaning to all of the preaching of the church. All that we say of the birth, life, and suffering and death of Christ, finds its final meaning in the resurrection. If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, he would have been just another interesting prophet, and would not have been our redeemer, the one with the power to raise us from death. Nouwen says, “Resurrection is that event by which God overcomes the powers of death, by which God liberates us from our final slavery, which is our slavery to death. Paul says Jesus came to take the sting out of death, so death no longer is our final destiny. It’s really important to see that the resurrection of Jesus is the linchpoint of our faith, the fore point, the central point, around which everything hinges, everything moves.”

Nouwen says that resurrection is a hidden event. Jesus appears to those who have loved him, known him, been close to him. The resurrection is an intimate encounter in love. The resurrection wasn’t a spectacle in Jerusalem, but something that happened in the margin of society and gradually became the core of the preaching of the apostles and disciples of Jesus. They went around and said that they had seen Him, and he is our redeemer. We have discovered this through his resurrection. He came to free us from all forms of darkness. That preaching started to take place, here and there, and gradually it became more general and then it went beyond the Jewish world. It is this message that we have to hear with our hearts.

Secondly, the resurrection says that love is stronger than death. Love is something which comes from God, and love that comes from God is there to stay, it is eternal. We love in the body and with the body, with our eyes, hands, words, gestures, embraces. God says to us, “I love you. I sent Jesus into the body so you can see Jesus, touch him, be with him.” The resurrection is saying that all is not in vain, all that is real and lasting is listed up in God. Love is incarnate in the flesh the flesh itself is being redeemed and lifted up. Love is eternal because it comes from God.

Thirdly, the suffering that we live in our life leaves its marks on our body, and also in the resurrection. Jesus showed the disciples his wounds in his hands and sides, and told them to look at him and touch him. When they saw him, they saw him with his wounds, glorified wounds that are no longer suffering, but wounds that show who He is. Jesus shows us the way he has lived and suffered, and his suffering is being lifted up through his body to God, not as suffering, but as a way that gives him a unique way of being. Our suffering, too, is not in vain, and it will be glorified in our bodies, and it gives us our unique identity. Each of us has our own painful experiences, weakness, and struggles. They shape our life and give our body its form. What we say, write, talk about, and do depends on the way we suffered in our love. This is where our wisdom and our sadness comes from. We believe that we are shaped by our suffering life, but all that will be transformed.

This is an important point in L’Arche, where we so much are focused on the body. The work for the body, with the body, is really the work that is sacred, because the body is sacred, and because the body is not simply there to vanish, but to be finally lifted up in the resurrection and be given glory. Nouwen says, “Resurrection doesn’t mean the bones will be used again, but a new body will be given to us, and the new body will carry in itself all that we have lived in the body that has been laid to rest. That bodily life, that bodily suffering, that bodily spirit will be honored in death.”

Nouwen concludes his discussion of the resurrection by talking about Jesus’ having descended to the dead. Jesus descended to the dead to assemble all the people who had died before, to lift them up. Jesus died for all people, not just those who live now or will live in the future, but those who have lived in the past. Jesus descended to take them with Him into the life of God. That makes it clear that resurrection is for all people.

Nouwen then says that these are the core statements of faith that he can make, and he hopes they use these as a starting point for their own discussion and reflections. He thanks Cassie and Nathan for helping him to be a part of this community reforming, and he prays that they can grow together in their faith and deepen their love for one another, and ask God to show us the way. He finishes by saying, “Much love, and hopefully we’ll see each other again soon.”
SR133v4 "RCIA- I Believe in the Holy Spirit #5, Henri Nouwen";
SR133v5 "Jesus - The Compassionate God, Henri Nouwen, Feb., 1993, 15 minutes".

It is likely these tapes were made from the originals sent by Nouwen from Freiburg, and distributed to students in the class.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on the spirit blows where it pleases: Judith Hollister lecture series

Item consists of a sound recording of Nouwen speaking at Wainwright House as part of the Judith Hollister Lecture Series. Nouwen reflected on the theme of interfaith dialogue through his own spiritual journey and his experience in community at L'Arche. Carl MacMillan and Bill van Buren accompanied Nouwen and spoke about the history of L'Arche generally and Daybreak specifically. The date of Nouwen's talk is not known, although it is believed he gave this talk on the spur of the moment when visiting New York City for other purposes.

Recordings of Henri Nouwen at Kanuga Conferences

Item consists of 6 audio cassettes of talks given by Nouwen at the Kanuga Conference Center, March 17 - 19, 1993.
SR119 v1: "Opening Remarks and Introduction - Wed. a.m.";

  • SR119v.1_a – 47:16

Starts with music – Announcer: Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville, North Carolina, presents, “The Beloved Community” with Henri Nouwen.

Nouwen is introduced by an unknown man. This man welcomes Nouwen, Sr. Sue Mosteller, and Bill van Buren. He then introduces Fr. Bennet Simms, a Bishop of the church, friend of Kanuga, and member of the Bowen committee. Simms introduces Nouwen, and mentions that Nouwen receives forty invitations to speak each week, so that alone tells them how fortunate they are to have Henri and his friends among them.

Nouwen begins with a word about himself, and says he wanted to be a priest since he was four years old. He says it is a privilege to not be there alone, and he started to realize more and more that Jesus was saying to go two by two or three by three. Nouwen hopes the conference thinks of them as a little community sent out by their community to minister to them. He doesn’t think of himself as giving ministry, but as coming to share their lives.

Sr. Mosteller briefly speaks about the L’Arche Daybreak community, a brief history, its goals, what it’s like to live there.

Van Buren speaks about his life at Daybreak, and that he lives in an apartment now. He got quite nervous and couldn’t speak, so Nouwen asked him questions to help him along.

Nouwen begins by speaking about the voice of God, and how it speaks to him and to us. Jesus came to show us how to live, and our journey comes from listening to that voice of Jesus. It’s a very soft voice, a very non-intrusive voice. God was in that gentle voice. That’s the word we have to hear, you are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter. We have to help each other hear that voice so we can live in this world that requires from us to make a contribution. He asks people to listen to the voice and look for where the word speaks to them, and to descend from the mind into the heart. He asks them to use inner silence where they can listen for the voice, and to be silent while at the retreat, and not in discussion.

SR119 v2: "Henri Nouwen Address I - Wednesday Afternoon";

  • SR119v.2_a – 47:14

Starts with music – Announcer: Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville, NC, presents, “The Beloved Community” with Henri Nouwen.

Nouwen begins by writing Latin words on a white board: O adoramus te domine. He says this afternoon, he would like to speak about adherence, and being connected in an intimate way with God, and to adhere in prayer.

Song: O adoramus te domine. Nouwen gives instructions during the song on how to sing (louder, softer, etc.).

Speaks about the text that they reflected on in the morning. He says, “Our spiritual life will really depend on our willingness to hear the voice that calls us to be the beloved.”

Nouwen talks about living the spiritual life. He begins by talking about life, and draws a line on the white board, and talks about our short chronologies. Merton spoke about our clock time – the clock keeps ticking, and it goes by quite fast. It is important for us to look at our lives, and look at our time. We walk with a question: who am I? That is a very central question. We want to be useful people, and do things that give us a sense of doing something significant in life. If we cannot do anything anymore, we feel threatened somewhere in the basis of our being. To be useless is a threat. There are quite a lot of people who cannot do anything. People with disabilities suffer not because they cannot talk or walk, but because they feel they are useless, they are not doing something that makes other people proud of them, and the feel a burden. If you cannot do something useful, you start to feel marginal in society. Not for nothing that we give trophies – what can we show for it?

Van Buren talks about his heart, and the difficulties he’s been having (pacemaker). He felt anxious. Nouwen talks about van Buren’s anxiety.

I am what other people say about me. I am what I have. We become like puppets, manipulated by the world. A lot of what we call ministry or pastoral care is about keeping people above the line (of happiness and depression), even though you know you can only do it so long. Nouwen says, this is not where our identity is rooted. We are not what we do, what people say about us, what we own. Our identity, our belonging, is not of this world. Our belonging is that we belong to God who calls us beloved children, beloved daughter, beloved son. Before Jesus started his public ministry, he was affirmed as the beloved. You are the beloved child, that is who you are. Jesus walked through his life from that moment, all the way until the cross, with the knowledge that he is the beloved. People love him, people hated him. All ups and downs, constant. But Jesus knew he belonged to his God, but he had heard that voice reverberating in his total being. If you read the gospels, that’s what Jesus is holding onto; “everybody will betray me, everybody will abandon me, but my Father will not abandon me. All that I am doing among you, I am doing because the Father that calls me the beloved is sending me to do this. Just as I don’t belong to the world, Jesus says, so you don’t belong to the world, because the voice that speaks to me is speaking to you.”

Suddenly, we realize these three things that give us our identity in fact are part of the temptation.

SR119v.2_b – 47:15

Nouwen says, “I don’t have to prove that I am beloved, I don’t have to rpove that I am loveable by doing things, by owning things, by having a good name, that is not necessary, I am already the beloved. That is who I am. Because long before I could love or be loved, I was loved. Love one another, because God has loved you first, and therefore this is the experience of God’s first love. The love that was there before your parents, teachers, friends, church, etc. decided to love you and hurt you. Real hurt doesn’t come from people who don’t love you, it comes from people who want to give you deep love.”

Nouwen asks them to reclaim, in a deeper way, the truth: throughout all the ups and downs of history, your personal history, social history, world history, you are meant to become the place of sanctification, the place where you become holy. God wants you to live a life and every time you are in touch with life, you know the truth.

There are a few minutes of silence, then singing. An unknown man then asks people to write in their journals on the talk, write for a few minutes, then go to their groups to discuss, and keep silent in between.

SR119 v3: "Henri Nouwen Address II - Wed. Evening";

  • SR119v.3_a – 47:07

Starts with music – Announcer: Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville, NC, presents, “The Beloved Community” with Henri Nouwen.

Nouwen is introduced by an unknown man, who says that they would like to hear more about this deep truth of life at the center.

Nouwen teaches them a song, “Jesus, Jesus, Let Me Tell You What I Know.”

Nouwen then talks about claiming who we are, that we are the beloved sons and daughters of God. A story about claiming that is the story of the prodigal son. Nouwen talks about his experience of not having time to pray or be with God, and he wasn’t even desiring it anymore (he was travelling a lot and speaking all over, 1984 or so). Nouwen then went to France at an invitation by Jean Vanier. While there, one of the first things he saw was the poster featuring part of the Rembrandt painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son. Over the following year, that painting started to captivate part of his imagination. Someone invited him to go to Russia with them, and Nouwen had to be there, and went to Russia just to be with the painting.

Nouwen then describes the painting (all the components), and his experience of looking at it at the Hermitage. He looks at his own life through the eyes of each person involved in the Prodigal Son story (the father, the older son, the younger son).

SR119v.3_b – 47:07

Nouwen continues to talk about the Prodigal Son. Our lives change, and we can see ourselves as the younger son, the elder son, and the father. You’re not supposed to stay a son, a child, you’re supposed to grow up and become a father. We have to come home to Him. Nouwen says he has realized he is older than the son and is now the father. He is coming home more and more.

Song – Jesus, Jesus, Let me tell you what I know.

Sr. Sue Mosteller speaks from 17:50. She talks about trying to discover the heart of the father, the heart of God. Through Rembrandt’s painting, we discover the heart of the father, which hopefully will become our heart. She says, “We’ve been talking today about being the beloved, and that’s beautiful, because it makes us children of God. Love can’t stop. If I am loved, then I have no choice but to love. The remarkable life of Jesus shows us that, through all his ups and downs… that through all his painful moments of suffering… Jesus teaches us by his life. Jesus became love. Jesus became the one who loved.”

Mosteller talks about wanting to save people in pain. Our challenge is how to we not get rid of what causes pain, but how do we live with pain? She tells a story of a woman named Joanne, with regard to relationships and pain. We have to step over our pain to welcome each other home, and love each other for who we are. We hurt each other in our relationships, but we have to give love, forgive each other. That is the love of the father. As we take on the image of the ones who love us, then our love begins to come back into the world and into the church. The father yearns for the communion of the father, and stoops to plead with his son out of love.

Nouwen concludes by saying tomorrow will be the conclusion. It is important to realize that our ability to become the father also has to do with our having come home. He talks of Jesus as the younger son, and then the older son.

Song: Where there is charity and love (in Latin).

SR119 v4: "Henri Nouwen Address III - Thurs. Morning";

  • SR119v.4_a – 47:00

Starts with music – Announcer: Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville, NC, presents, “The Beloved Community” with Henri Nouwen.

Group starts with a song:“in this place, Lord, we glorify today; in our hearts, Lord, we glorify today; in your church, Lord, we glorify today; in our world, Lord, we glorify today”

Nouwen mentions that this morning they had a reading from Romans, and that reading helped them to reflect on what they heard yesterday: that we are the children of God and heirs. Jesus came to us not only to tell us who we are, but to live who we are. The life of Jesus is really the life of the beloved; he came to live it, not just as an example. We can be invited to follow him, but to follow him in a way so we become like him. We become living Christs, we became more and more beloved.

Nouwen then talks about being a child of God. Being a child of God is different for each of us. It isn’t a general reality, it’s some very concrete and very specific. As a child of God who claims his true childhood and his true home, we are called to be the parent, like the father, like the mother. Our ministry and whole life in the world is to be a parent, and to welcome people home who are lost, to embrace them, and not ask too many questions, and have the freedom to say “you are welcome.” This is the walk to spiritual adulthood. It is not chronological, you don’t become a child, then a parent. You have to remain in touch with your childhood to become a parent. We are parents for each other, and we call each other to claim our childhood. Obedience and authority belong together.

Nouwen asks for some questions, which are too difficult to hear, relating to the spiritual journey.

Song: unknown title.

Sue answers the questions and talks about finding balance in belovedness. The child is never balanced, and we move back and forth.

Nouwen concludes by talking about living the mystical life, which is a life in communion with God. Out of that communion comes communion with one another. Out of that comes the life of ministry in the world.

SR119v.4_b – 46:58

Nouwen begins by talking about gravitate to the voices that tell the truth that he is the beloved. He has to allow his community to declare him the beloved when he is really depressed. He says, “Emotionally I am not there at all, but people in the community are saying ‘you feel awful, rejected, useless, I want you to keep acting according to the knowledge beyond all of these rejections, you still are the one who is loved with an everlasting love. Can we help you at least act according to that truth?.’” You have to acknowledge and embrace the anger and know it, but do not let the sun go down on it. When you fall asleep, go to sleep as a child of God, and not as the angry one, and be able to let others speak for you if you are not able to speak yourself.

Nouwen discusses fundraising, and using that as an opportunity to do ministry. Fundraising is a way to call people to a new way to make their resources available for the growth of the Kingdom. Every meeting, be it business or financial or otherwise, has to be prayerful.

This is where power and hierarchy come into play. Nouwen says, “If we talk about power in the church, we somewhere have to believe that the power has to be a power that’s born out of our powerlessness. The power of Jesus comes out of the cross, it’s the power of God’s love that comes from His vulnerability. The spiritual power comes from our confession. It’s the downward mobility of Jesus, Jesus’ coming down to us. God revealed His power in powerlessness. God revealed his divinity by stripping Himself of His divinity and living powerless. He died and suffered, and so revealed His glory to the world.”

Nouwen wants us to claim our spiritual freedom and power by letting go of burdens that we carry. Claim the burdens, talk about them, cry about them, feel them, and gradually you will let them go and discover that there is no longer an oppressive presence. You were hurt, but now you are free from it.

Bill van Buren briefly speaks about what is hard for him in community, and anger. Henri helps him along by asking questions. Bill says to go somewhere to pray, and not to take our your anger on the people around you. He also talks to other people about his anger.

Nouwen also mentions Vincent van Gogh, and how van Gogh was able to see something special in very ordinary realities (Postmaster, two paintings of sunflowers).

Nouwen then concludes by talking about the life of the beloved, and being taken, blessed, broken, and given. He starts with the gospel of Luke, the story of Emmaus, and Jesus being recognized by taking the bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it. To recognize the presence of Jesus that is the presence of the beloved, is these four realities: taking, blessing, breaking, giving.

SR119 v5: "Henri Nouwen Address IV - Thurs. Evening";

  • SR119v.5_a – 47:10

Starts with music – Announcer: Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville, NC, presents, “The Beloved Community” with Henri Nouwen.

Simple song, “The Lord is my Shepherd, This I Know”

Nouwen briefly mentions the sunflowers paintings by Vincent van Gogh, “You know, you like these flowers. But you look up close, they’re quite miserable. They’re in bad shape. But together, they look quite nice. That’s what community is about.” He also quotes a letter by van Gogh to his brother, in which he talks about painting the beauty of ordinary people (he doesn’t paint them with halos). Nouwen says he uses these paintings as a symbol – we are little people that are great in God’s eyes.

Nouwen then speaks about discipline and discipleship. Without discipline, there is no discipleship. Without discipleship, discipline becomes oppressive. Discipline is the human effort to create space for God, it’s to create boundaries, the spiritual boundaries in which God can exist. In this space, God can speak to us as individuals or as a community. We have to be there to be guided. The discipline is to make discipleship possible by creating space where we can hear the voice of the shepherd and discover God’s place in our life.

Nouwen reads a passage from scripture (what passage??), where he wants to use it to identify the parts of the spiritual life. “Now it happened in those days that Jesus went onto the mountain to pray. He spent the whole night in communion with God… power came out of him that cured them all.”

Jesus spent a night in communion with God. In the morning, he created a community around him. In the afternoon, he ministered with the community around him. This is the order of God: communion, to community, to ministry. These three words are the disciplines of the spiritual life. You are the beloved, who is taken, blessed, broken, and given. As the beloved you are called to live a life of communion, to always create community, and to minister. That doesn’t happen without discipline, and without creating a space where you can commune with God. Nouwen says, “The first and most holy call is to live in communion with God, so that you can live in the name of God, be in the name, and speak and act eventually in the name. The name is your home, that’s where you belong… Communion with God always wants to become community. Community with one another in the name of God always becomes ministry. Communion, community, and ministry are the three disciplines of the mystical life.”

Song: The Lord is my wisdom, this I know

Sr. Sue Mosteller speaks from 23:15 on about the story of community and the spiritual journey. She discusses chapter three of Exodus. She asks, what are the signs of how God leads us? What are the things that we can be grateful for? One of the things we can do in communion is be grateful, and give thanks. Furthermore, on the journey, there are two things that would help us as a community: giving forgiveness, and asking for (and receiving) forgiveness.

SR119v.5_b – 47:08

Sr. Sue Mosteller continues her talk on community and the spiritual journey.

She says we must also celebrate together. Celebration is like a sign of heaven, and we must learn to celebrate each other in our communities. At each birthday in the Daybreak community, they will each take time to say what a gift that person is to the household. She mentions a film they watched earlier on Linda, and how people gave thanks for her. In celebration, something happens and flows between us, which is of God. We are on holy ground, we have a celebration, and we are in a sacred place.

She finishes with two stories of members of the L’Arche community. The first, about Christmas shopping with Bill (not van Buren) and Frank. Bill went so slowly, and carefully chose gifts for each person in a meaningful way. When we celebrate, it comes from love of someone. Celebrations allow our hearts to rejoice so we can go back to the journey and the struggle. The second story is about David, who likes to answer the phone, but was confused one day by a collect call. Sue says, “There is a call, it is a collect call. We pay along the line. Walk together, journey together, because we’re going to talk heart to heart.”

Nouwen teaches a simple song to call out their lighter side: “Jesus took my burden, and he rolled it in the sea.”

The tape ends with a sketch by members of the conference, with a parody of a vestry meeting. Tape ends at 26:00.

SR119 v6: "Henri Nouwen Address V - Friday Morning".

  • SR119v.6_a – 47:26

Starts with music – Announcer: Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville, NC, presents, “The Beloved Community” with Henri Nouwen.

Unknown man – welcoming Nouwen for his last address, talks about having gratitude for Henri’s ministry in the world.

Nouwen briefly mentions that L’Arche Daybreak has decided to build a retreat center in the center of their community. They want to do this because they have discovered an enormous gift that people with mental handicaps have: they lead people closer to God. Nouwen and Sue Mosteller have given a lot of retreats, but they would like to give retreats in their community, because people who are silent can show and give their presence. The people at the retreat might forget the words of Henri and Sue, but they will not forget the presence of the poor among them. Jean Vanier and others have said that Nouwen should consider his ministry and the ministry of the community, which is to call people to live a better life.

The conference then sings a song, “Spirit of the Living God,” which uses the four words they used yesterday: take us, bless us, break us, give us.

Nouwen puts up the images from the day before, and briefly talks about one of the paintings by Vincent van Gogh, in order to give them a feeling of home. Van Gogh painted it near the end of his life, and it is clearly shaking and moving. It Is a house on the way home, a home on the way home. We live in this world, and it is a beautiful world, but it is also filled with intensity, and colour, and vitality. Van Gogh was always able to go to the center, as if everything was filled with this passion and intensity. When you go home tonight, you’ll see it’s a home, filled with intensity and life and joy and pain, but it is a home on the way home. We are in this world, not alone, but together, in the name of Christ, and we are moving towards home.

Sr. Sue Mosteller reads a text, “And Jesus said to them, go out to the whole world. Proclaim the Gospel to all creation. These are the signs… you will lay your hands on the sick, and they shall recover. This is the Word of the Lord.”

Nouwen then talks about how they will all not simply be leaving a conference, but they are all being sent out, and are commissioned. He says, “You and I are sent out from this place where we formed community, where we lived something together. We are sent out to minister… Ministry flows freely out of communion and community.” He says that we worry about how to minister, but we must ask ourselves: do I live in communion? Do I live community wherever I go? Community is a way of being in the world, and we must make community wherever we go in this world. It is when you live a life of communion and community that ministry will flow from you. Do not worry about what to say when you come to your judges; everyone is a judge in this world. But commune with God, and make community.

Nouwen mentions the Abbery of the Genesee, and gives an anecdote in which he was told that he must always be prepared to talk about Jesus, and he should not have to prepare in advance.

Ministry is to lay down your life for your friends, and to live your life in the presence of your friends. This is the ministry of presence: be present for people, be there. Nouwen wanted to be here with Sue, Bill, and those people at the conference, and they wanted them to be here with them. Ministry is to be present, to be with each other, to suffer with each other, to listen. Trust that we are called to be the incarnation of God in this world, and let people confess to you, share with you, and be open to receive them. You are there to listen, “yes, I hear you. God hears you.” Nouwen says, “Jesus didn’t work hard to cure people. In fact, all those who touched him were cured. Jesus noticed that a power went out of him. You have to believe that’s happening when people touch you. You are healing, you will heal people. Jesus said, go out and you will cure people. You don’t have to figure out what it all means, you don’t have to set the conditions for what the definition of cure is.” As we are present to people, there will be a new sense of joy, and this is a joy of being a member of the human race and discovering you are one person among many – a member of the people of God.

Nouwen mentions Thomas Merton, and his discovery that we are all people of God, and we all belong to each other and to God together.

Also important, like being present, is to dare to keep leaving. We experience some leaving every day in our lives. If we are truly present in each minute, when we leave, we will send out our spirit. Jesus said, “It is good that I go.” Now we know that the love of God that we received in His presence (and in each other’s presence), will stay with us. In our leaving, you will discover a spirit of God that is larger than my presence can embrace. We are leaving. Not just from here, but we live short lives, and we will leave. The question is, is it a good leaving? Is it a good dying? Can we somewhere say, it is good for you that I go, because I can send the spirit of Jesus that I have lived with? Trust in the fruitfulness of our lives, dare to be vulnerable, dare to leave. In this, we will bear fruit, because we were present.

SR119v.6_b – 47:25

Ministry is to minister with presence and absence. You cannot be absent well if you have not been present well. Be where you are completely so you can leave well. This conference is a way of being present. The more we celebrate that, the better it is that we leave. Nouwen says, “We leave not with guilt and shame of what we haven’t done or said. We were here with each other, and we trust that when we go out from this place, all sorts of fruits will be made. People who will touch you will be cured. God sends you out, and you are safe.

Nouwen thanks them for inviting him, Sr. Sue Mosteller, and Bill van Buren. He says, “Your affection, your presence, your friendship to us, that’s what ministry is about. It’s not just me ministering to you. Real ministry always, always flows both ways.” The conference was organized with love and care, and it was all to help them all be present, and feel safe together. When they leave, they have a lot to share with their communities, and the word Kanuga will have a different meaning.

Sr. Mosteller speaks and thanks them for allowing her to come, and to talk to them, and for welcoming her. She says it was also good for her to be with Bill, since they no longer live in the same house (Bill calls out, “Thank God for that!” which leads to much laughter by the conference attendees). Mosteller thanks them, and says that they have confirmed her.

Bill van Buren speaks and thanks them for having him.

An unknown man concludes and thanks Nouwen, Mosteller, and van Buren for being there, and they now send them out with love.

Recording of Henri Nouwen at C.R.K in 1993

Item consists of a sound recording of Nouwen speaking to an audience in Dutch. A search of Nouwen's appointment calendar for 1993 indicates Nouwen was in Europe in June and later in October and November. It is likely that he spoke during one of these visits. He may have spoken on the topic of pr. gebed gemeenschap verkondiging.

Recording of reflections with Henri Nouwen: St. James Church, November 11, 1993

Item consists of two cassettes of Nouwen speaking at St. James Church in New York City on November 11, 1993. Two speakers lead before Henri begins his part of the talk: Mother Madeleine Mary, Superior at the monastic Community of The Holy Spirit in New York, speaks first. Carl MacMillan, a member of L'Arche Daybreak, speaks second, and introduces the overall purpose of L'Arche, and introduces Henri. Henri leads the audience in singing a hymn. Topics discussed by Nouwen include caring and ministry, the importance of community, and solitude. After the formal talk, Nouwen takes questions from the audience. A member of the audience asks how sexuality fits into these topics: Nouwen discusses how sexuality reflects our need for belonging, intimacy, and communion.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on Mourning and dancing

Item consists of a sound recording of Nouwen speaking at the Center for Social Concerns in South Bend, Indiana. This was a three day event from March 19-22, 1992. The audio cassettes are from March 21 when Nouwen spoke on the subject of mourning and dancing. Also includes singing, prayers and stories from core members of different L'Arche Communities. SR115v1 contains part I; SR115v2 contains part II.

Recording of Henri Nouwen on Caring for the whole person: the relationship between spirituality and medical care

Item consists of a sound recording of Nouwen speaking at York Central Hospital, in Richmond Hill on June 3, 1992. Nouwen spoke on the subject of spirituality and medical care. Some topics covered include forgiveness during times of grave illness, the experience of being near death, and the need to shift caring for the sick away from viewing illness as "the great enemy" and death as failure. Nouwen talks of the necessity of befriending illness and death, and to address and accept mortality.

Recording of beyond the mirror: reflections on death and life

Item consists of a sound recording (SR100) of Nouwen's book, Beyond the Mirror, transcribed as a book on tape. It was produced as part of a series created for use by chaplains, counsellors, parish staff, and educators; distributed by the College Of Chaplains, called "Care Cassettes". The editor of Care Cassettes series is Don Steiger. Transcribed onto tape by the Xavier Society for the Blind, narration by Dorothy Fitzpatrick.

Recording of Greenbelt 92 seminar tapes: journeys of the heart

Item consists of three audio cassettes of talks Nouwen gave at the 1992 Greenbelt Festival, St. Lukes Hillmarton Rd. London, England. Nouwen spoke on the theme of claiming oneself as the beloved son or daughter of God. On the B side of volume 2, Nouwen recalls travelling with a L'Arche core member named Bill and also testifying before the United States Senate against military intervention in Nicaragua. The B side of volume 3 is blank. SR107 v1: "The Life of the Beloved"; SR107 v2: "The Discipline of the Beloved"; SR107 v3: "Being the Beloved."

Recording of Nouwen on pastor as spiritual leader: consultation XVII on parish ministry, January 6-10, 1992

Item consists of four audio cassettes of Nouwen's talks given at the Consultation XVII on Parish Ministry conference which took place in Orlando, Florida between January 6-10, 1992. Nouwen gave four talks.
SR110v1 "Pastor as Spiritual Leader";

  • SR110v1._a – 55:12

Nouwen thanks Ann Johnson for inviting him, and introduces the talk, “Think about this as a time to be together in prayer, listening, sharing, as a kind of mini retreat, in which you might make some connections. I will say things that you might connect with. If not, let it go. If it connects, let it grow. But, trust more where you connect and where you agree, because spiritual life is a life of making connections. You come out of a world in which we are often agreeing or disagreeing, but maybe for a few hours we can just rest in the spirit, and feel sort of safe, and feel together, and feel ready to let God speak to us.” He says that he no longer likes to travel alone, and says, “The place from where I speak and where I learn about the spiritual life, is from my own community.” He introduces Lorenzo Sforza, David Gray, and Francis Maurice as his companions from his L’Arche Community, and he hopes that the people present at the convent will involve these members in their life at the convention.

Nouwen talks about several things in the talk: his community, how his understanding of the spiritual life and ministry has flown out of that community, telling stories about people so the listeners can connect them to their own story, and the disciplines of the spiritual life. He says the morning will be interrupted with some songs and some moments of silence.

Community, and his discovery of his ministry: talks about Jean Vanier and the origins of L’Arche as a ‘safe home.’ He discusses how this community has helped him to discover who God is in a whole new way, and says: “I must say, it moves me very deeply, especially in this Christmas season, that the ones who become or who are totally dependent who cannot stay alive without constant care, are the one who reveal God to us. They bring me back in touch with that incredible mystery that God decided to overcome our fear by becoming completely dependent on us. The child Jesus is a child, a baby, if we believe, that that is the God among us, we have to realize that we have to care for God, to keep God alive among us.”

Spiritual Life: “To live a life of ministry means to lay down your life for your friends.” He talks about being held in a place of love, where we are loved for all eternity – before we are born we are loved, we are loved during our short chronology, and we are loved after we die. The spiritual life is knowing that you have been loved and will be loved. He speaks about living the life of the beloved. You are not what you do, what people say about you, or what you have. The world uses these ideas to manipulate us and make us happy or depressed according to its strategies. Believing that you are what you do, what people say about you, or what you have, is tragic, because when you’re dead, you’re dead. You no longer do anything, people don’t talk about you, and you don’t have anything. Our true identity is that we are beloved sons and daughters of God. That is what ministry is – living with the knowledge that you are the beloved, and God’s favorite blessing.

SR110v1_b – 55:07

We are victimized by the world, because the world wants to suggest that we are not the beloved. It is hard to get in touch with that voice that says ‘you are the beloved.’ Nouwen says, “I tell you, if your ministry comes out of that truth, a whole new world opens up. You are acting out of that place. Don’t worry what to say to your judges. Don’t prepare speeches. That comes out of your anxiety of what people think about you. Trust that the spirit will speak through you, but you have to live in the spirit. You belong to me, as I belong to you. You are mine, I am yours. I will never never leave you alone. And the love with which I love you for all eternity, is the love that I will continue to love you after you have finished your little chronology. I have loved you so much, that I Have sent you in to the world for a little bit, to give you a chance to accept that love. Yes lord, I love you too. You’re laying down your life for your friends, comes from, you’re letting people know that there’s so much trust in your belovedness, you can give everything away without losing everything. In fact, you gain it.”

We are able to love one another because God loved us first. The answer that God gives us always seems to be ‘go to the poor.’ Jean Vanier went to the poor and he found a home there. The poor are there to reveal our own poverty so that poverty can become the manger where God can dwell. If someone brings us to our poverty, we can discover that we are also marginalized [like the poor] and we are broken. If we dare to stay where our poverty is, we discover that it is there that a child is born, and we can worship the child. Nouwen says to bring it all before the child and hold nothing back.

He concludes by talking about the practice of the spiritual life. He says, “If you are in touch with being the beloved son and daughter of God and if you keep trusting that you hear that voice in your own poverty, and in the poor of this world who are the blessed, then you can start living a life that is radically spiritual… It means, if you’re always willing to forgive. It is precisely the experience of the first love that makes you aware that your family, church, etc. is not going to be able to give you that first love. So you have to keep forgiving them. They are not God. They are not there to fulfill the deepest desire of your heart. Whenever they give you love, they also wound you. Precisely because they are broken little people like you. The spiritual life is to return and return and return to that first love. The ones who love you poorly are the ones who can catapult you back to God. That is your home.”

SR110v2 "Meditation and Silence";

  • SR110v.2_a – 39:01

The theme of this session was meditation and silence. Nouwen invites them into that silence, although people will be coming in and out of the room. He will read a passage from scripture, and asks them to stay with that passage for this session, and raise questions about their own lives, meditation, prayer silence, and solitude. Then they will have discussion and people can raise these questions. He will listen to what they say, and respond to the different experiences and questions.

Talks about his own meditation practices: he takes time in the morning, takes the gospel of the day (usually a scripture text), and stays with that text. He tells them to descend from the mind into the heart, as that’s what meditation is about. Let the words sink in and become flesh in you.

He reads the text, and asks them to look at the words through their eyes and life. Luke 4:16-22.

He goes through the text again as they meditate, and asks them to look at their lives through it, as he reads. He says, “Look at where are you trapped, victimized, addicted? Find your own addiction: work, alcohol, sex, relationships. Where are you compulsive? Not free? Captive?” He talks about the many ways we feel oppression, and says we can only talk about others’ oppression from a point of our own. Nouwen says, “God is here and now, and I speak in God’s name. Are you willing to claim that God’s favor is here for you. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow, next year, or later. All that you need is here, Jesus is here right here where you are, he is reading these words to you, as words that will take away your blindness and your oppression and your captivity and your poverty. I want to live with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I want to see only him, I will see him in everyone who comes to me with their struggles and pains. They won’t be a burden because they bring good news, favor, freedom, liberty, sight. Who brings sight? All those who come to me. They reveal to me the face of the one on whom I have affixed my eyes.”

They have a discussion, and a few people ask questions and talks about their problems with meditation and prayer, and living the spiritual life. Their questions are difficult to hear on the recording. Nouwen asks them questions for clarification, and then he addresses their questions when they are finished.

The tape concludes with a start of a discussion on discipline – discipline is the other side of discipleship. Discipline and disciple are the same word. Discipline is the effort to keep empty space empty so that God can speak.

SR110v.2_b – 39:08

Because we are fearful people, we fill up empty space. Horror vaccui, or the fear of the empty space. Wherever we see emptiness, we want to fill it up. Discipline means to create boundaries around an empty space so it stays empty, and in the emptiness the spirit can manifest itself to us. To live a spiritual life is to leave emptiness for God, space for God.

It isn’t just a question of having an hour in the morning to pray and then you get busy again. That’s what liturgy is about: A little bit of bread, not enough for everybody to take hunger away. A little bit of wine, not enough to take our thirst away. A few words, not enough to take ignorance away. It’s a little bit to create some boundaries where we are poor together. We are silent, and we create a safe, silent place where we can hold hands around an empty spot and trust that God will reveal himself to us.

If that is not your ministry, then your ministry becomes entertainment. Nouwen says he wants people to have a good time when they come to the service, but that is not his vocation. His vocation as the priest or minister is to withdraw so much that there is a new space where people can be and discover God. We are not there to entertain, to hold people attentive and keep them busy so they won’t have to deal with the emptiness. We have to create the space where God can let something happen that is radically new in us and among us.

He answers a question from earlier regarding creating a time and place to pray. He says, “Pray in a place so the place can pray for you when you’re gone. The space is always there for you so if you step into it, you step into prayer again.”

SR110v3 " Pastor as Spiritual Leader";

  • SR110v.3_a – 51:33

Nouwen begins by leading prayer and follows by discussing Van Gogh's Sunflowers at the request of an attendee. He touches on the ministry of Vincent Van Gogh, talking about Van Gogh's time working in Belgium coal mines, living with the poor, his relationship with his brother Theo Van Gogh and his paintings as having something to say about life.

Next, Nouwen discusses the disciplines of the spiritual life. The life of the beloved is being taken, blessed, broken and given, and they have discussed that. But now he talks about the practice the discipline to stay in touch with these deep truths. Nouwen identifies the seven disciplines he will be addressing: Prayer, slowing down, sense control, daily routines, ministry as a formal activity, spiritual reading and fellowing.

Discipline is the concentrated effort to keep empty space empty. Because of our fear, we want to fill them up, we have a fear of the empty place.

Prayer is about letting the Word become flesh. An obedient person is someone who listens to the voice. If you no longer listen, one becomes deaf. An absurd life is one in which one does not listen to the voice that will allow them to reach a new place. In ministry, we must help people move from an absurd to an obedient life, and listen to the voice of love. Total attentiveness to the voice that calls us to love.

Nouwen talks about his accident in which he was hit by a car while hitchhiking. A visiting minister brought him a psalm, which Nouwen learned by heart and let sink into his flesh. The psalm was telling the truth about him and was making the truth in him.

Make an inner space where these words are written on the wall (words can be ‘blessed are the poor’, ‘the Lord is my shepherd,’ Paul’s letter to the Corinthians) – these words are not just words you can read and understand, but words you can taste and feel in your inner room. It is in that inner place where you can invite the people who come to you for ministry. It is from that place you can speak, and the more you pray and let those words become you, the bigger that inner place becomes. Discipline is to create an inner place, a spiritual space in which you can offer hospitality to those who come to you.

Lorenzo Sforza talks briefly about washing dishes with David Gray, and how he wanted to rush and do the task quickly, and Gray would go slowly and tell him to slow down.

Nouwen talks about how we fill up our inner lives with garbage that we don’t want or need. He says, “I remember when this crisis in Russia happened, I was nailed to the tv for hours, as if I was in control of the situation.” Television fills us with ideas and stories that are not good for us, and we let ourselves be bombarded with things that are not good for us, and we are not nurturing our souls, and therefore not our ministries.

SR110v.3_b – 52:56

Nouwen talks about how we need to be masters of our minds. He once drove through Los Angeles, and it was as though he was driving through addiction. All of these words were trying to grab his attention, but what words does he want to become part of his flesh? Does he want to let these words determine his own physicality and spirituality, or can he let THE Word become the flesh that is life. He says, “That is the real choice, we are constantly in front of choice. What to let in and what not.”

The next discipline is gaining a routine. The most simple daily tasks can become a form of prayer and spiritual life.

Lorenzo Sforza speaks again about routine in the L’Arche community. He was looking for meaning in his life, and decided to go to Daybreak. Sometimes one can get sick of all the details and menial tasks to do, but if you see them in a religious and spiritual sense, that makes it a very important task [i.e. dishes, other chores].

The discipline of ministry is to wait and listen for what each person can tell you of God. What is the good news that this person brings, and calls me to conversion? It is then that ministry is life-giving. This will also let you know when to take a rest, when to step away, when to spend time with family. Nouwen points to his relationship with Adam Arnett to contextualize his point, discussing Adam as a teacher. He also explores the AIDS crisis as an opportunity for conversion, asking: "How is the AIDS crisis a call for conversion to the Church? How is the fact that young men, women and children, die young from AIDS, in their search for love find death? How does that call us as a church to something new?"

The last discipline is spiritual reading. One must keep reading about God to keep the perspective going. Nouwen recommends that they read the mystics, because mystics speak about the communion with God. He says, “We have to be mystics, we have to be people who live in communion with God, and nurture that and feel connected there, and from there we deal with the issues and become moral people. The moral life has to grow out of the mystical life. And if the church and the Christian community is considered to be primarily dealing with moral issues, people are not going to come. Because it doesn’t nurture to hear what you’re allowed to do and what you’re not allowed to do. That doesn’t help the deepest part of our heart.”

SR110v4 "Tuesday Evening with Henri Nouwen".

  • SR110 v.4_a – 39:08

Nouwen wants to explore more in depth what it means to live the life of the beloved that he talked about this morning. He first answers questions that convention members have asked Lorenzo, Francis, David, and himself about their community. First, L’Arche is an ecumenical community, not a Catholic one. He asks David Gray to speak about his Anglican church, and his family that is involved in the Anglican church. Second, L’Arche is an international community, and Daybreak has members from about twenty different countries. He says, “I often ask myself how we make it together, but we do make it together because of those among us who hold us together.” Third, people come to the community for different lengths of time, sometimes for three months, or half a year, or for life, and it’s very flexible. Some will come for three months and stay for three years.

Nouwen then talks about the dynamics of the Spirit. He uses the icon by Andrei Rublev as an example: the icon was painted during a time of political upheaval, and Rublev was asked to paint the icon to bring peace to the monks. The icon is a trinity icon, which represents the three angels who visited Abraham, as a “pre-figuration” of the Holy Trinity. The icon calls you to enter, and you are called to place yourself within so you can be lifted up into the circle, and enter into the mystery of God.

Nouwen talks about being taken, blessed, broken, and given. Jesus was recognized through these four words, and it is through these four words that Jesus makes himself known. These four words summarize the mystery of the incarnation – Jesus is the one who is taken by God, blessed by God, broken by God. The Father handed Jesus over to suffering, and Jesus was given to the world by God. Those are the characteristics of the son of God, of the child of God. The child of God is taken, blessed, broken, and given. That is what we are called to be. The children of God live out the mystery of the life of Jesus. The life of the beloved is a life that is taken, broken, blessed, and given.

Nouwen goes more in depth on each of the four qualities of the spiritual life: being taken, broken, blessed, and given.

Taken – Nouwen prefers ‘chosen.’ You’re chosen by God. You must believe you are the chosen one of God, and you must get in touch with your chosenness to move on the spiritual journey. The greatest temptation of life is that of self-rejection. We are not seeing our preciousness. Ministry starts from the place where we help people to recognize their chosenness, their uniqueness. My chosenness does not exclude others, my chosenness helps me to see the chosenness of others. That’s where ministry starts.

Blessed – Talks about Janet, a member of the L’Arche community, asking for a blessing. He told her, “You’re beautiful, you’re loved, you’re good. Don’t you know that?” We who are self-conscious are much less free.

SR110v.4_b – 39:08

Blessed – We have to bless one another constantly. To bless people is to say they are good in God’s eyes, and to speak in the name of God that they are beloved. Say it with all you’ve got to let people know that they are the beloved. To minister is to bless people, to speak good things about them, good things in the name of God, and not just in the name of a world that wants to compare one talent with the other. As the beloved, we are not only chosen and blessed, we’re broken.

Broken – Our brokenness is that which is obviously most in our consciousness. What are we called to do with our brokenness? First, we have to befriend our broken. We have to hold our brokenness close to our hearts, because our brokenness is us, and our brokenness is as unique as we are. You never have to compete with the pains of others, your pain is enough for you. We have to date to claim our pain as well as we claim our blessings. Pain and joy are never separated in this life. The moments of the greatest pain are the moments of the greatest joy (talks about the death of his mother), that’s the mystery of the spiritual life. Ministry is to help people with their brokenness. When your brokenness is lived under the blessing, that is the way to glory.

Given – The greatest desire of the human heart is to give itself. Not part of oneself, but all of it. You and I will find our fulfillment in giving ourselves away. That’s what death is all about, to give yourself away and thus bear fruit. You’re not called to be successful, you’re not called to give many results, but you’re called to be fruitful. Jesus gave himself so we could bear fruit.

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