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Brief reflections on Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World

henri nouwenIn this sublime work Henri Nouwen offers to readers: “The greatest gift my friendship can give to you is the gift of your Belovedness. I can give that gift only insofar as I have claimed it for myself. Isn’t that what friendship is all about: giving to each other the gift of our Belovedness?”

This book is, at its essence, a love letter. A love letter from Nouwen to God, from God to each of us, and if we so choose, an offering of our love returned to our Creator who calls us Beloved.

Fr. Nouwen speaks to each of us as friends:

Dear Friend, being the Beloved is the origin and the fulfillment of the life of the Spirit. I say this because, as soon as we catch a glimpse of this truth, we are put on a journey in search of the fullness of that truth and we will not rest until we rest in that truth. From the moment we claim the truth of being the Beloved, we are faced with the call to become who we are. Becoming the Beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make. Augustine’s words: “My soul is restless until it rests in you, O God,” capture well this journey.

In our gratitude, out of our brokenness, accepting our blessedness and giving to all we touch we may share the eternal love that brings eternal joy.

“Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our Belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say or do.”

These reflections originally appeared on The Christocentric Life. Books by Fr. Henri Nouwen may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

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3 replies to this post
  1. A lovely reflection. Thank you, Mr Elliott

    I’ve been keeping my eye out to see when Christians would make serious use of Sufi language like, ‘Love is the flame which, when it blazes, consumes everything other than the Beloved.’ There’s great potential for a ‘Traditionalist School’ in Christianity that embraces non-duality as a popular concept, rather than being confined to its intermittent appearances in the teachings of mystics like St John of the Cross, St Teresa of Ávila, and so forth. Of course, Progressive Christianity does incorporate such ideas, usually through some Eastern influence; but the ‘raw materials’, so to speak, are in Christianity, too!

  2. ‘Love is the flame which, when it blazes, consumes everything other than the Beloved.’

    Eliot says some things which come pretty close to this….

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