Henri Nouwen

The Seven Last Words of Christ: Meditations on the Cross

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(Full disclosure: The author of this book is my friend.)

Yesterday, while in the middle of reading Jeff Blake’s new book “The Seven Last Words of Christ: Meditations on the Cross,” I had to stop and write to tell him how powerful it is. This short book is HANDS DOWN the best book I’ve read on the message of Jesus. At less than 40 pages the message is distilled to perfection, cutting through any filler or unnecessary repetition while also offering brief personal experiences by Mr. Blake that never take the reader off course.

My belief or faith is far, far away from rock solid. Like reading a passage from Richard Rohr, Henri Nouwen or Thomas Merton the words in these pages feel like an anchor of truth.  How so? While reading I felt the “how it isness” wash over me. I felt carried and at peace.  I also became aware of wanting to flee to distraction in the other direction to avoid letting it all sink in.  Am I the only one who does this? Stoping mid-chapter to write an email is a pretty good indicator I am misdirecting myself. (“Stop reading! Do something else! Tell the world!” You gotta love the ego. No really, you have to or it won’t leave you alone.)

I can’t say enough good things about “The Seven Last Words of Christ: Meditations on the Cross”, by Jeff Blake, so I won’t try. It’s awesome. Pick it up for Lent and read it. Read it more than once. You’ll be very happy you did.

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Liberation

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“Henri Nouwen’s Wonded Healer is a classic writing in spirituality. Nouwen understood the well-known Australian Aboriginal activists quote, “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Grace is understanding our oneness with all people.

~ Jeff Blake, A Year on Grace Street (Feb. 7th entry)

Caring Community

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“This leaves us with the urgent question: How can we be or become a caring community, a community of people not trying to cover the pain or to avoid it by sophisticated bypasses, but rather share it as the source of healing and new life? It is important to realize that you cannot get a Ph.D. in caring, that caring cannot be delegated by specialists, and that therefore nobody can be excused from caring. Still, in a society like ours, we have a strong tendency to refer to specialists. When someone does not feel well, we quickly think, ‘Where can we find a doctor?’ When someone is confused, we easily advise him to go to a counselor. And when someone is dying, we quickly call a priest. Even when someone wants to pray we wonder if there is a minister around.”

~ Henri Nouwen

Radical Stance

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“The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”

~ Henri Nouwen

Painting by Salvador Dalì, Archaeological reminscence of Millet’s Angelus

Free World

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“Freedom belongs to the core of the spiritual life; not just the freedom which releases us from forces that want to oppress us, but the freedom also to forgive others, to serve them, and to form a new bond of fellowship with them. In short, the freedom to love and to work for a free world.”

~ Henri Nouwen, Letters to Marc About Jesus

Painting by Camille Pissarro (1898)

Did I Offer Peace Today

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“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”

~ Henri Nouwen

Painting by Gerald Harvey Jones