Contemplative Life

Henri Nouwen’s Deeper Spirituality

This reflection is part of our Discernment: Hearing God in a Noisy World Series.  Discerning God’s unique voice is one of the most important skills for a Christian and is absolutely crucial for our intimacy with God and our ability to follow him.  Unfortunately, our world is engineered to prevent us from cultivating the skill of discernment.  Because of these realities, we will be offering a series of resources, reflections, and programs throughout the year to help all of us learn to better recognize and respond to God’s unique voice.  We hope you’ll join us along the way!


At a very formative season early in life, I encountered Henri Nouwen, and he became an important influence on me as on so many others.  His writing was the first to expose me to spiritual direction, which led to me finding one which led to me becoming one.  In 2016, to mark the 20th anniversary of his death, the Henri Nouwen Society held a conference in Toronto, and invited me to offer a break-out session on “Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Direction.” 

It was a humble privilege and great gift, a way for me to honor and thank a man I’d never met yet who had ministered to me so deeply over the years.  It also provided the occasion to compile some of my favorite insights from him and distill some thoughts on what spiritual direction is and why it is so helpful, and connect that to some of the major themes in Nouwen’s writing.  While the break-out does have a good bit about spiritual direction, it is even more about the larger, deeper spiritual life that Nouwen is constantly calling us to pursue. 

It is this deeper life that so resonates with our “Discernment: Hearing God in a Noisy World” series, and I hope this quick immersion into Nouwen’s work and heart blesses you, wherever you are on your faith journey.  I am pleased to include links both to the recording of my remarks and to a handout with a wonderful collection of quotes and notes I offered alongside my session.

SOUNDINGS” posts consider topics that are important for our society, for the Church, and for our own spiritual journeys.  To ‘take a sounding’ is a nautical term about using depth to determine where you are and where you’re going.  These writings are designed to do just that.  Please share this post with friends you think might appreciate it.  If you would like to get SOUNDINGS posts from me sent directly to your inbox, click here.
Share this post

Keep Growing

Do you want robust Spiritual Formation resources delivered straight to your inbox each week?