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Gracias: A Latin American Journal Paperback – February 1, 1993
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Top Customer Reviews
In Henri Nouwen's journal entries, he captures each moment and thought of his struggle to find God's calling during his journey through Peru and Bolivia. Not only does he describe his own feelings, but also the joys and struggles of the people he came in contact with. His journal depicts the true venture of stepping into mission work or at least stepping outside of our everyday life in search of our place in this world. He gives encouragement to those who are searching and have felt a calling to go out and help others. He opened my eyes to show me that it is not the number of people you help but it is the one heart that you touch that counts.
Time spent on the "to read" shelf: 9 months.
Days spent reading it: 3 days.
Why I read it: There are multiple steps in why I read Gracias! First, I love Henri Nouwen's writings. Second, I read a few excerpts from Gracias! in a Henri Nouwen collection and found some of his reflections interesting. Third, our youth group went on a short term missions trip to Peru, and Gracias! is about Nouwen's time in Lima, Peru. So it seemed like a great fit for me.
Brief review: Gracias! was a little harder to read than I was anticipating. It's one thing to read a coherent book on a particular topic, it's quite another to read the journal writings of a person as they are developing some of those thoughts.
Henri Nouwen is a Roman Catholic priest who was a successful professor at Yale and Notre Dame. He gave up the academic life and started searching for a different type of ministry. So he went to South America for about 6 months. 3 months in Bolivia for language study, 3 months in Lima, Peru as an exploratory trip to see if he would like to serve there for a longer period of time. Nouwen's insight into human behavior, including his own, is invaluable. He is very open and vulnerable in his writings, which is what draws me to him. However, these journal entries are not a systematic thought about anything in particular. So there are occasional glimpses of great insight. But its in the midst of the mundane of everyday life.
Was it thought provoking? Yes. Was it sometimes boring? Yes. Did it have interesting insights about life and how we live it? Definitely. Am I glad I read it? Mostly. Would I recommend it to others? Not unless they were die-hard Nouwen fans.Read more ›
He had the understanding that a life devoted to God should involve caring for the poor. He seemed compelled to go to South America to learn from the poor and potentially make a home and ministry in their midst. You could sense his eagerness and wonder as he began to experience a new culture and people. He had the privilege of viewing Christian holy days and religious practices with the eyes of a child. As someone who grew up in the institutional church you could sense he was enlivened by seeing fresh expressions of faith. His time in Latin America coincided with a period of religious and political change and unrest. Liberation theology was entering a phase of resistance within the structures of the church. The poor were increasing in their efforts of political and agrarian freedoms. In this setting Nouwen was able to get a first hand experience of extreme poverty. He was able to see how God's people had a key role to play in the pursuit of justice. At the same time he was confronted with feelings of loneliness and uselessness. He was simultaneously motivated to help bring change and wrestling with feeling like an outsider who did not have much to contribute. I was amazed by his keen awareness of the need for “missioners” to not try to convert people, rather to try and learn from them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating from multiple perspectives--spiritual, cultural and political--for someone like me who's very interested in Latin America.Published 4 months ago by Barbara Linek
This is an excellent, informative book. His life and experiences that have been chronicled are inspirational. It flows well and the writing is lovely.Published 15 months ago by Shantivanam Sister
I have read Henri Nouwen's work before and knew some of his story. This diary was like experiencing a type of personal retreat of my own. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Martha E. Lujan
Even though I am clergy of a different denomination, I am grateful to have discovered the prophetic support of Rev. Nouwen's work. Read morePublished on May 7, 2014 by Ella Hayes