04/04/2009

Out of Solitude (by Henri Nouwen)

I do like Henri Nouwen's writing. He was a Catholic priest who thought deeply about his faith, and who wrote in a simple yet thought-provoking way. I borrowed one of his books nearly three years ago, and since then have slowly been collecting a few myself.

'Out of Solitude' is subtitled 'Three meditations on the Christian Life'. It's a small book, only 63 pages, divided into three sections. Each one was originally given as a sermon, and they transfer well to the printed page. I read them over three days, one meditation per day, and found myself re-reading the first two almost immediately, so as to better understand and take in all that Nouwen was saying.

The first meditation is on the theme of solitude, looking at the time when Jesus withdraw from his disciples to pray in the midst of a great deal of activity. The second is about the importance of caring in a society so keen on curing.

I had not really considered this distinction before, but Nouwen explains how caring, in the way that Jesus cared, involves reaching out to people at their own level, to suffering alongside them and empathising, rather than merely seeking to solve their problems.

The final meditation is on the topic of expectation - of looking forward to better things in life, as well as in the expectation of eternal life. I didn't find this one so helpful or thought-provoking as the first two, but it was still well worth reading.

I shall no doubt come back to this little book again in the future, and have already ordered a couple more books by Henri Nouwen. Definitely recommended to anyone seeking to follow Jesus.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 4th April 2009

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