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The Genesee Diary Paperback – March 1, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery is Henri Nouwen's journal of his seven-month stay in the Abbey of the Genesee in upstate New York. His reflections on daily life with the Trappists are funny, wise, and often profound--resembling Kathleen Norris's The Cloister Walk, but a bit less thematically structured and more down to earth. Nouwen's goal is simply to record what it's like to pass the time in a cloistered community. He spends part of his stay there reading Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which helps awaken a hunger for a richer experience of life that he subsequently satisfies by learning to slow down. In his first week at the monastery, Nouwen writes, "I have so many ideas I want to write about, so many books I want to read, so many skills I want to learn--motorcycle maintenance is now one of them--and so many things I want to say to others now or later, that I do not SEE that God is all around me and that I am always trying to see what is ahead, overlooking him who is so close." Then, looking forward to being planted in one place among the Trappists, he writes, "Maybe I need to get stuck," to learn to see God. He does, and he does. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

'Far and away one of the most rewarding books I have read in years, because it so beautifully lifts the heart and mind to God and the Saviour.' -- Christianity Today
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Darton Longman and Todd (March 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0232527296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0232527292
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,525,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henri Nouwen was born in Holland in 1932 and ordained a Catholic priest in 1957. He obtained his doctorandus in psychology from Nijmegen University in The Netherlands and taught at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard. He experienced the monastic life with Trappist monks at the Abbey of the Genesee, lived among the poor in Latin America with the Maryknoll missioners, and was interested and active in numerous causes related to social justice. After a lifetime of seeking, Henri Nouwen finally found his home in Canada, as pastor of L'Arche Daybreak - where people with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers live together in community.

Henri Nouwen wrote over 40 books on spirituality and the spiritual life that have sold millions of copies and been translated into dozens of languages. His vision of spirituality was broad and inclusive, and his compassion embraced all of humankind.

He died in 1996. His work and his spirit live on.

Henri Nouwen pronounced his name "Henry Now-en." For more information on his life and work, please visit www.henrinouwen.org .

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A. Hogan VINE VOICE on January 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Late Henri Nouwen ,of blessed memory, was a Dutch Catholic priest who was able to put his spiritual longings[and lackings] into print and a level that I do not think has been matched in the past century.Certainly, Thomas Merton was a better writer and more influential, though Nouwen gave us his doubt at an unprecendented depth. In this duiary, first published in the mid-70's , he went to Piffard , NY to live with the Trappists of the Genesse for 8 months[he later went back, and produced another book of meditations]It was fortuitous that he met the abbot, Fr John Eudes Bamberger, and found a man to whom he could pour himself out. The abbot [he is still abbot,by the way,and has his own website}is an MD, psychaitrist and a man of deep prayer. Much of the book is the the conferences of Nouwen and the Abbot, though a greter portion is Nouwens musings on life, his frustrations, his enthusiamims[wich were many and childlike in thier intensity] and his prayer.His descriptions of back breaking manuel labor,of sorting raisins{the monks produce a regionally famous bread, called,of course, monks bread]and of normal, everyday fears and phobias are wonderful, insightful and inspiring. The Late Fr. Nouwen wrote scores of books, though thisis in my estimation his finest.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By ebroadwe@dept.english.upenn.edu on May 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
A highly stimulating account of Nouwen's experiences as a "temporary Trappist" (itself a contradiction in terms which he explores with sensitivity). Nouwen is brutally honest in his self-analysis without becoming maudlin or pompous, and his struggle to learn to pray in the midst of distractions from within and without should resonate with people (like me!) who find themselves too often consumed with busyness and the monologues of an undisciplined consciousness. Best of all, Nouwen acknowledges that his time with the Trappists does not solve his problems; rather, it teaches him the rudiments of praise in the midst of problems.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lyrical-Linocut on December 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
Nouwen takes us behind the walls of a Trappist Monastery, a place one rarely gets to travel. We not only get a glimpse into monastic living, but we are invited to travel deeper into the heart of Henri Nouwen. Nouwen shows us his humanity and struggles. He brings forth the wisdom of community and the comfort of ritual. This book, for me, became my own retreat. The monastery is not a place of escapism, but rather a place that confronts you at the depths of your soul.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
Have you ever wondered how a monk deals with everday life? This book is written in diary format and is very easy to read. Henri speaks honestly from his heart of the joys and tribulations of monastic life. I found that I'm not alone with alot of the thoughts I have...Henri has had them too.
Once I started reading this diary I couldn't hardly put it down!
Definately one of the better books I have read in a long time.
Also very profound remarks in this book. I'm sure I'll be reading it again.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By keliz@anderson.edu on September 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
i am still reaping the benifits of reading this book. i understand many more people because of this, but most importantly i am seeking God more diligently. the simplicity of the life lived, the simplicity of the lessons learned, and the simplicity in which journaling is established is amazing. God blessed this book for nouwen.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. L. Asselin VINE VOICE on June 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
I first read Henri Nouwen's THE GENESEE DIARY some thirty years ago, shortly after its publication, and was very much taken with it. Nouwen's descriptions of monastic life during his seven-month sojourn at the Abbey of the Genesee, a Trappist monastery in New York State, gave the reader a privileged, vicarious experience of a distinct and ancient way of life in the Church. I think I was also moved by Nouwen's notes on his spiritual journey as he was forced to confront his personal failings in an environment where one has very few distractions to encourage one to overlook or ignore them.

Upon re-reading it, I found I had considerably less patience for his litany of complaints. When he would complain about the boring daily work routine at the monastery--baking bread and gathering rocks for the church construction, for instance--I just wanted to tell him to get over it. Likewise, when he would complain that while he was in the monastery his many outside friends and acquaintances seemed to forget him, I wanted to tell him to get over himself. When I first read this book, I was college student; now, I am living in the "real" world with all of its demands and challenges. I am now somewhat annoyed by Nouwen's introspection and complaining.

When I read this thirty years ago, the references to Watergate and to the peace movement were news; now it's history, and those references make the material seem dated, even if the general themes of war and hunger haven't changed over time. Moreover, Nouwen's protestations against the injustice of hunger in a world of plenty seem hollow coming from a man on a monastic vacation. The monks, at least, were in it for life.

However that may be, there are still spiritual insights in the book that salvage the book for me.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tim Drake VINE VOICE on June 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
Henri Nouwen's diary recounts his 7-month stay at the Abbey of Genesee in New York. His diary is a personal account of his search for peace and total committment to God. It accurately depicts the regimen of life in the monastery - a life of work, prayer, and liturgy - and describes how he became a member of the monastic community.
Through his time there, Nouwen discovers that the monastery is not built to solve problems, but to praise God in the midst of them.
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