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Leadership JournalMinistry in a shifting culture.
Winter 1997

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Deepening Our Conversation with God

On September 21, 1996, Henri Nouwen died of a heart attack in Hilversum, The Netherlands. Nouwen was a Catholic priest and psychologist, best known among Protestant pastors for his book The Wounded Healer.
One of Nouwen's themes was living our brokenness under God's blessing. In one interview, Nouwen said, "Many people … don't think they are loved, or held safe, and so when suffering comes they see it as an affirmation of their worthlessness. The great question of ministry and the spiritual life is to learn to live our brokenness under the blessing and not the curse."

In 1982, Leadership published an interview with Nouwen and Richard Foster on what it takes for church leaders to know God. Founder and chair of Renovare, Foster has written, among other books, Prayer and Celebration of Discipline. After hearing of Nouwen's death, we reread the interview and were moved by its timeless and timely wisdom on the spiritual life. We offer it again in memory of the wounded healer.

Where are you currently in your spiritual journey?

Henri Nouwen: I'm in one of the most difficult periods of my life. At times I've felt my spiritual direction to be clear-cut; right now, however, everything is uncertain. When I came from Holland to the United States, I became a diocesan priest, a psychologist, and a fellow at the Menninger Clinic. I joined the faculty at Notre Dame, taught in Holland, and came back to teach at Yale Divinity School. People started to respond more and more to what I had to say, and that led to an increasing sense of "Yes, I obviously must have something to say." I should be happy. But these past months I've come face to face with my own spiritual abyss. None of this success has made me a more ...



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