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Book#16: Life of the Beloved

What a wonderful mystery this is! Our greatest
fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others. Although it often seems that
people give only to receive, I believe that, beyond all our desires to be
appreciated, rewarded, and acknowledged, there lies a simple and pure desire to
give…Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful
people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an
embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life…all of our life.~~
Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

I've been dawdling my way through Nouwen's book in part because I wanted each chapter to be fresh as I worked my way through a sermon series using his ideas that, like the bread, we are each taken/chosen, blessed, broken and given.

This is a re-read for me. It seemed just right as a starting point in my new setting for ministry, both as an introduction to some of my thoughts on a life of faith and a platform for some personal storytelling, to help people get to know me. After a long pastorate, no matter how people at church felt about the former pastor, they knew him and his family well. I want them to feel they know me, too.

I didn't remember the epilogue of the book, in which Nouwen admits that even though he was trying to reach a secular friend, the friend still felt the book was too, as my kids would say, religious-y. It's definitely language that works for me, and that probably proves the point. It challenges me to think more about how we talk to faith with people who do not share our vocabulary.

This is a great little book.

4 thoughts on “Book#16: Life of the Beloved”

  1. P.S. Irritatingly, I can’t get my Typelists of books to update or change. I’ll fix that when it’s working again.

  2. We read this in a small group earlier this year; I know everyone loves this book, but it just didn’t engage me very well. Probably me more than the book…

  3. I am really appreciateing this post…it has inspired me to work on my own blog post with a similar topic…I think it interesting that the friend found this book too religous-y. It seems so easy to confuse religion with spirituality! Thanks!

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