Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life
by Henri Nouwen
Over the summer, I read a book by Henri Nouwen for the first time, Turn My Mourning Into Dancing. I highlighted so much of it, almost every page was a rainbow of quotes and ideas I wanted to remember. So, I was truly interested in getting to know more about this priest, chaplain, teacher and author by reading this collection of over 100 of his personal letters called: Love, Henri.
The letters serve as the most intimate of biographies as he corresponded with vulnerability and honesty. He wrote letters of encouragement to missionaries, pastors, writers, married couples, those considering the priesthood, and even senators. He even responded to a negative reviewer here and there.
As a passionate Catholic, he wrote often about themes like icons and the saints, which didn’t always connect with me. Still, so much of what he wrote was universally poignant and powerful. You can truly get a sense of his deep struggles and how he drew on his faith for strength and help. His most common advice for those who asked him questions was to take time for prayer, focus on prayer, get away for prayer, make prayer a priority. This is surely something most of us can learn from.
This book is beautifully put together. Each letter is introduced with a brief comment about the context for what he wrote, perhaps an event in his life or a comment about the person he is writing to. I learned a great deal about his life in particular and about growing in faith more generally through this collection of letters.