The Inner Voice of Love

I was pointed to this remarkable book by someone who knows the geography of my soul pretty well. This, the last of Henri Nouwen's many books is a series of excerpts from a journal he kept during a painful and difficult time in his life. After a career as a world renowned scholar and spiritual writer, in 1987 Nouwen became the pastor of L'Arche, a community for people with intellectual impairment in Toronto. Soon after moving there, an important relationship led him to a place of profound spiritual growth, but also  through a period in which he lost his sense of self worth, his sense of  being loved and even his faith in God. This period of deep growth and anguish gave rise to one of his most highly regarded books, The Return of The Prodigal Son, but he regarded his journal as too raw, too personal for public consumption. Near the end of his life he was persuaded to allow the wisdom from this period to be shared, and I am glad he was courageous enough to do so.

The Inner Voice of Love is a series of very short chapters, each less than 2 pages in length. I have found I can't read more than one or two at a time, because they are so rich and full, so the book is slow going. Each chapter stands alone, as do, say, the small chapters in a book by Anthony De Mello, but reading it from cover to cover reveals a progression in thought and a sort of narrative structure. There are many works of spiritual sustenance out there, but what gives this depth for me is the knowledge that it is borne out of real struggles: a real human being is faced with his own limits and seeks to find there the eternal truths he has given his life to.

Here is the dark night of the soul. Here is the cloud of unknowing, as one man lived through it. The result is a depth of insight which has helped me in the task of making sense of my own life, and the love with which I am surrounded. This is a book I imagine I will recommend often.


Barbara Harris said…
Have you read With Burning Hearts ? It is beautiful.