‘Spiritual formation, I have come to believe, is not about steps or stages on the way to perfection. It’s about the movements from the mind to the heart through prayer in its many forms that reunite us with God, each other, and our truest selves.’ Henri Nouwen, from the introduction
Henri Nouwen, beloved author, priest and spiritual guide, counselled many people during his lifetime, but his principles of spiritual formation were never written down. Now, Michael Christensen, one of Nouwen’s long-time students, and Rebecca Laird have taken his famous course in spiritual formation and supplemented it with his unpublished writings to reveal Nouwen’s sage advice on how to live out the five classic stages of spiritual development.
With full-colour plate section.
'Even though I often give in to the many fears and warnings of my world, I still believe deeply that our few years on this earth are part of a much longer event that stretches out far beyond the boundaries of our birth and death. I think of it as a mission into time, a mission that is very exhilarating and even exciting, mostly because the One who sent me on the mission is waiting for me to come home and tell the story of what I have learned.' - Henri Nouwen at the time of his death in 1996
Henri Nouwen was one of the most popular spiritual writers in the world. Through more than fifty books he touched countless people with his compelling interpretation of Christian faith and the gospel. In part his impact came from his willingness to draw deeply on his own experience, inviting readers to share his joys, his anguish, and his spiritual journey. That journey led him from his home in Holland to America; from a series of prestigious academic posts to a Trappist monastery, to the poor of Latin America, and finally to Canada, where he found his final home in a L'Arche community devoted to the care of handicapped adults.
Rebecca Laird, M.A., D. Min., is director of ministerial formation at Drew University, New Jersey, where she teaches spiritual formation and Christian ministry.
Michael J. Christensen
Michael J. Christensen, Ph.D., is National Director of Communities of Shalom at Drew University, New Jersey, where he teaches spirituality and practical theology. He studied with Henri Nouwen at Yale Divinity School.