Item 1582 - Stranger in paradise

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Reference code

CA ON00389 1-9-1-1582

Title

Stranger in paradise

Date(s)

  • April 1976 (Creation)

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6 p. of textual records

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(1932-1996)

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This item is a 6 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Stranger in Paradise’, published in The Sign: National Catholic Magazine, Volume 55, No. 7, April 1976, PP. 13 – 18. It is part one of a two-part article. This article is an excerpt from: Nouwen, Henri: Genesee Diary, Doubleday & Co., 1976. Nouwen begins by stating that ‘My desire to live for seven months in a Trappist monastery, not as a guest but as a monk, did not develop overnight’. The remainder of the article describes some of his struggles and insights as he lived the life of a monk. Nouwen states that he had been looking for someone to help him find direction in his life. He then met Father John Eudes Bamberger at the monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky in whom he says he found what he had been looking for: ‘He listened to me with care and real interest, but he also spoke with deep conviction and a clear vision…’. Three years later Nouwen went to the Abbey of the Genesee where Bamberger had become Abbot. It is the experience of the seven months in which lived as a monk at this Abbey which is the focus of this article and of the book from which it is taken. Nouwen describes his struggle with the rhythms and work of the monastic life; his struggle understanding monastic concepts of obedience and his own depression that followed his first month. Nouwen then outlines some of the areas in which he feels is learning: 1) Wanting to be different- Nouwen describes his lifelong desire to be thought different and his growing discovery that in the monastery one is to be unnoticed, not special, and in this ‘The mystery of God’s love is that in this sameness, we discover our uniqueness’. 2) Sacred Rhythm – ‘One of the things a monastery like this does for you is give a new rhythm, a sacred rhythm’ and in this, Nouwen rediscovers the Saints. 3) Mary – in the monastery Nouwen rediscovers his devotion to Mary that was part of his family life. 4) Love – In his time in this monastery Nouwen says he struggled with the sense that his experience of love had been ‘limited, imperfect and weak’. Nouwen goes on to say ‘I am beginning to experience that an unconditional, total love of God makes a very articulate, alert and attentive love for the neighbor possible’.

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Published in The Sign 55, no. 7 (April 1976): 13-18.
Item is 1 of a series of 2 articles. See also Published works - item 1584.
There are six photographs in this article taken by Brother Anthony Weber: 2 of work projects that involved Nouwen and 4 small photos of Nouwen at work.
See Page 39 of Album 2 and Page 16, Page 17 and Page 18 of Album 3 for print copies of three of the photographs that appear in this article.
This item is an excerpt from: Nouwen, Henri, The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery, Image Books, Doubleday & Co., Garden City, New York, 1976.

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Accession Number

2000 01

Location

Box 294

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