For Book Lovers
I don't review books I don't like!
*****= An all-time favorite
= Above average
= Good, with reservations
The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life
by Henri J. M. Nouwen
Reviewed October 1, 2004.
Image Books (Doubleday), Boston, 1986. First published in 1975.
Thanks to my sister Becky for giving me this book.
The purpose of Reaching Out is best described in its foreword.
“This book is a response to the question: ‘What does it mean to live
a life in the Spirit of Jesus Christ?’” Henri Nouwen believed that
“the spiritual life is a reaching out to our innermost self, to our fellow
human beings and to our God.” He talks about three movements of the
spiritual life: From loneliness to solitude, from hostility to hospitality,
and from illusion to prayer.
I wasn’t too impressed by the section from loneliness to solitude.
Although I have experienced some loneliness in my life, I simply do not need
to learn to enjoy solitude. As with most strong introverts (I had
just begun reading The Introvert Advantage),
this comes naturally. Although I love my children, you should have
seen my dance of joy when they went off to school for the start of the year,
and I had the house to myself!
However, as an introvert, I do need to work on the next movement:
from hostility to hospitality. Speaking of enjoying my children going
to school, he reminds us that “our children are our most important guests,
who enter into our home, ask for careful attention, stay for a while and
then leave to follow their own way.”
He continues, “The difficult task of parenthood is to help children grow
to the freedom that permits them to stand on their own feet, physically,
mentally and spiritually and to allow them to move away in their own direction.
The temptation is, and always remains, to cling to our children, to use them
for our own unfulfilled needs and to hold on to them, suggesting in many
direct and indirect ways that they owe us so much. It is indeed hard
to see our children leave after many years of much love and much work to
bring them to maturity, but when we keep reminding ourselves that they are
just guests who have their own destination, which we do not know or dictate,
we might be more able to let them go in peace and with our blessing.
A good host is not only able to receive his guests with honor and offer them
all the care they need but also to let them go when their time to leave has
The final movement, reaching out to God by moving from illusion to prayer,
contains food for thought that anyone desiring to reach out to God may benefit
Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund.
All rights reserved.