Summary: Spiritual Direction from a book.
As I have mentioned a number of times in these reviews, I have been meeting with a spiritual director for more than five years now. I also am considering seeking formal training to become a spiritual director in the future. My current commitment is to read at least one book broadly related to spiritual direction a month. In February, three books ‘by Henri Nouwen’ were on sale and Spiritual Direction was the first of the three that I have read.
Henri Nouwen passend away in 1996. In addition to the many books that he directly wrote, several of his students compiled additional books based on his lectures, unpublished essays, and notes. Nouwen is worth reading for his spiritual insight, even if this book is not directly written by him for publication. There are hint here of things that I have read before, especially the chapter on solitude, community and service that feels like a shortened form of Out of Solitude.
A book cannot replace spiritual direction. Spiritual direction is personal and more about the individual receiving the direction than just wisdom from the director. But there is a sense of how this book does hint at what spiritual direction is like because of Nouwen’s self disclosure and focus on his own spiritual growth.
I both found much here to be frustrating because it was not spiritual direction and because it was not quite Nouwen. But at the same time there was a lot of wisdom and insight that I would expect from Nouwen. One of the things that I most appreciate about Nouwen is his pithy sayings and simple ideas that I can remember over time and that was certainly present here.
I really want to read a biography of Nouwen at some point. I have read enough of his books to have a fairly good idea about his life story, but I would like to hear from an outsider about his life, not just Nouwen’s perspective about his life.
I started, but have not finished, a collection of Nouwen’s letters, Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life. That book was similar, it was interesting to learn details about Nouwen’s life and relationships, and there was lots of wisdom in the letters. But I also got bored with it. I think I need to read one of his directly written book next, probably With Open Hands.