These reflections flow from Nouwen’s involvement with L’Arche, a community dedicated to assisting people with disabilities. Many of the insights he shares in this audiobook come from living and relating with these vulnerable people. His insights are also based on two stories from the Gospels: Jesus’ temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11) and Peter’s call to be a shepherd (John 21:15-19).
Nouwen comments that one of Christ’s temptations in the desert was to be relevant—to turn stones into bread. In living with profoundly disabled persons, Nouwen found that none of the skills he had used as a minister in past situations had any relevance to this community. Ministry, says our spiritual guide, has nothing to do with relevance, power or popularity.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Nouwen realized that his personal worth was not in what he did but in the gift he could be to another. Ministry, according to Nouwen, involves reaching out to others with outstretched arms, always discerning where God is leading.
HENRI J.M. NOUWEN is one of the most prolific and popular spiritual writers of our time. He wrote more than 40 books and taught at the University of Notre Dame, as well as Yale and Harvard. For the 10 years before his death in 1996, he was part of the L’Arche Daybreak community in Toronto, sharing life with people with developmental disabilities. For more information about Nouwen, visit www.HenriNouwen.org.