Item 1620 - Solitude: the inner fabric of Chrisitian community

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CA ON00389 F4-9-1-1620


Solitude: the inner fabric of Chrisitian community


  • March 1979 (Creation)

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3 p. of textual records

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This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Solitude’, published in Sojourners magazine, March 1979.A version of this article appeared in the January 1978 issue of Worship magazine. Nouwen begins the article by stating that people often ask, ‘How do I find time and space for myself?” in Christian community. Nouwen goes on to say that he wants to begin by speaking of ‘two commonly held viewpoints on the role of solitude in community which I consider false, or at least limited’. Nouwen identifies these two viewpoints as: 1) Solitude over against community which he feels is a battle between the needs of the individual and the needs of the community and 2) Solitude in service of community. Here, he suggests, ‘we do not look at solitude as time and space for the individual in contrast to the community, but …solitude is seen as good for the members of the community because they can return from it refreshed and restored and better able to engage in the common task’. This he feels, may be seen as arising out of weakness, or a need for a break. Nouwen states that for him, the best understanding of the need for solitude is that it is ‘participating fully in the growth of community. It is a fallacy to think that we come closer to each other only when we talk together…solitude opens us to the awareness of a unity pre-existent to all unifying actions.’ Nouwen also speaks of solitude in terms of ‘clarity’ in which in solitude members of the community can sort through feelings and values before introducing them to the group. Finally, Nouwen speaks of solitude as ‘prayer’. Nouwen concludes by stating ‘ When solitude is given its central place, communities will be able to resist not only the flagrantly visible ills of our society, but also the evils whose roots reach into the depth of our being and threaten the life of our community itself’.

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Access copies (3) available in Access Copies - Published Works, Articles by Nouwen, Box 1.

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Publication note

Published in Sojourners 8, no. 3 (March 1979): [20-23].
This item appears in another form in Nouwen, Henri, 'Clowning in Rome', Doubleday, N.Y., 1979.
A version of this article appeared in the January 1978 issue of Worship.

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Accession Number

2000 01


Box 295

Previous Item Number

20-78 ; 21-91

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