Henri Nouwen

Gratitude begets gratitude

Gratitude is the most fruitful way of deepening your consciousness that you are not an "accident", but a divine choice. It is important to realize how often we have had chances to be grateful and not have used them. When someone is kind to us, when an event turns out well, when a problem is solved, a relationship restored, a wound healed, these are very concrete reasons to offer thanks.

What fascinates me so much is that every time we decide to be grateful, it will be easier to see new things to be grateful for. Gratitude begets gratitude, just as love begets love.

~ from LIFE OF THE BELOVED by Henri Nouwen

The unfathomable mystery of God is that God is a Lover

The unfathomable mystery of God is that God is a Lover who wants to be loved. God not only says: "You are my Beloved". God also asks: "Do you love me?" and offers us countless chances to say "Yes" to our inner truth. The spiritual life, thus understood, radically changes everything. Being born and growing up, leaving home and finding a career, being praised and being rejected, walking and resting, praying and playing, becoming ill and being healed -- yes, living and dying -- they all become expressions of that divine question: "Do you love me?" And at every point of the journey there is the choice to say "Yes" and the choice to say "No".

~ from LIFE OF THE BELOVED by Henri Nouwen

Forgiveness means that I am willing to forgive the other person for not being God

Bless all you've been, bless who you are now, bless who you are becoming, and then, as after forgiveness, let go...

Forgiveness means that I am willing to forgive the other person for not being God -- for not fulfilling all my needs. I, too, must ask forgiveness for not being able to fulfill other people's needs. Our heart -- the center of our being -- is part of God. Thus our heart longs for satisfaction and total communion... But since we want so much and we get only a part of what we want, we have to keep on forgiving people for not giving us all we want. The interesting thing is that when you can forgive people for not being God, then you can celebrate that they are a reflection of God.

~ Henri Nouwen in "Fellowship In Prayer" -- 12/96

Where the realm of love is shaped

If your heart is not full of Love, you won't see love anywhere. But if your heart is soaked with the Presence of Love, you will recognize that presence. Where we come together in very simple ways, we sense the presence. Where people are vulnerable together in a quiet way, there is real strength. That is where the realm of LOVE is shaped.

~ Henri Nouwen in "Quaker Life" - 1993

The movement of God's Spirit is very gentle

The movement of God's Spirit is very gentle, very soft -- and hidden. It does not seek attention. But that movement is also very persistent, strong and deep. It changes our hearts radically. The faithful discipline of prayers reveals to you that you are the blessed one and gives you the power to bless others.

~ from THE ESSENTIAL HENRI NOUWEN by Henri Nouwen and Robert A. Jonas
The Essential Henri Nouwen
By Henri J.M. Nouwen

Have you ever tried to spend a whole hour doing nothing but listening

Have you ever tried to spend a whole hour doing nothing but listening to the voice that dwells deep in your heart? ... It is not easy to enter into the silence and reach beyond the many boisterous and demanding voices of the world and to discover the small intimate voice saying: "You are my Beloved Child, on you my favor rests." Still, if we dare embrace our solitude and befriend our silence, we will come to know the voice ... a voice that can be heard by the ear of faith, the ear of the inner heart.

~ from BECOMING THE BELOVED by Henri Nouwen

Tasted in one small moment.

Just as a whole world of beauty can be discovered in one flower, so the great grace of God can be tasted in one small moment.

~ Henri Nouwen

Silence is portable cell that we carry with us wherever we go

Silence is primarily a quality of the heart that leads to ever-growing charity. It is portable cell that we carry with us wherever we go. From it we speak to those in need and to it we return after our words have born fruit. And, it is in this portable cell that we find ourselves immersed in the divine silence. The final question in a ministry of silence is not whether we say much or little, but whether our words call forth the caring silence of God, the silence to which we are all called.

~ from THE WAY OF THE HEART by Henri Nouwen

Dwelling in the presence

If there is any focus that the spiritual leader of the future will need, it is the discipline of dwelling in the presence of the One who keeps asking us, "Do you love me? Do you love me?" It is the discipline of contemplative prayer. Through contemplative prayer we can keep ourselves from becoming strangers to our own and God's heart. Contemplative prayer keeps us home, rooted and safe, even when we are on the road, moving from place to place, and often surrounded by sounds of violence and war. Contemplative prayer deepens in us the knowledge that we are already free, that we have already found a place to dwell, that we already belong to God, even though everything and everyone around us keep suggesting the opposite.

~ from IN THE NAME OF JESUS by Henri Nouwen

Silence is the home of the word

Silence is the home of the word. Silence gives strength and fruitfulness to the word. We can even say that words are meant to disclose the mystery of the silence from which they come ... Words can only create communion and thus new life when they embody the silence from which they emerge ... Thus silence is the mystery of the future world. It keeps us pilgrims and prevents us from becoming entangled in the cares of this age. It guards the fire of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. It allows us to speak a word that participates in the creative and recreative power of God's own Word.

~ from THE WAY OF THE HEART by Henri Nouwen
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