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The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers Kindle Edition
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“Brings desert spirituality to bear upon the contemporary scene. ... Hauntingly relevant for us today.” (Christianity Today)
“Gemlike in its clarity.” (The Christian Century)
“Inspiring, to the point, and eminently practical in his advice about living spiritually in the world of today.” (Spiritual Book News)
“On the long road it’s good to have Nouwen and his divining rod. Deftly he bends toward the drop of spiritual wisdom caked in the most ordinary things.” (Helen Prejean, C.S.J., author of Dead Man Walking) --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- File Size : 386 KB
- Publication Date : July 12, 2016
- Publisher : HarperOne; Reprint Edition (July 12, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 58 pages
- ASIN : B01GCBUP64
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #66,496 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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He calls solitude the “furnace of transformation.” It is a place of great struggle and great encounter; “the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offered himself as the substance of the new self” (16). The significance of solitude is this is the place where we remove all the entanglements we have come to rely on to make it through the day, or through life’s journey. All of us have this “false self” that drives our attitudes and behaviors. And it is this false self solitude deals with. Solitude reminds us “the goal of our life is not people. It is God. Only in him shall we find the rest we seek” (32).
Silence is the actual component of solitude, in fact, it is the key that makes solitude a reality. Nouwen offers, “silence is solitude practiced in action.” In silence, our words both written and spoken, regain their creative power. There is a guarding of the tongue we don’t experience in non-stop community and communication. Silence becomes a purification of sorts. In community, which represents another spiritual discipline, words lose their power and significance. Silence teaches us to return to the power of God’s words and the impact they have on our lives. In silence we are no longer in competition for our words, but desperate for God’s word. The essence of silence is that it “helps us to keep our mind and heart anchored in the future world and allows us to speak from there a creative and re-creative word to the present world” (59).
Both solitude and silence set the table for a deeper, even more vital connection with God through prayer. Solitude is not about being alone, but being alone with God. Silence is not the absence of words, but is a way of listening to God. The crisis of prayer is that our minds are filled with many ideas of God, yet our hearts remain distant. The challenge here is real prayer comes from the heart. In prayer we re-connect with the God by identifying what is essential, the kingdom of God. Instead of focusing on the thoughts that flood through our minds, we focus on hidden reality of the kingdom of God. Where the kingdom of God is, there is life and freedom and power. Therefore, we hide nothing because we come face to face with God’s mercy.
Solitude, Silence, and Prayer help us remain connected to the Father, and therefore useful for ministry. We are less likely to say to a person in need, “I’ll be praying for you.” We will listen to the Holy Spirit, and in that place of community with people we will say, “Let’s pray right now.” We are more apt to bring the rest that comes from these disciplines into our everyday lives.
The obvious challenge with these disciplines is taking the steps to get there. Whether it is because we are desperate, burnt out, or simply sensing the need for renewal; there is hope for renewed or restored connection with the Father.
I purchased this book having spent a number of months seeking to do more of all 3. For too long I've thought communing with God was a reflection of how many experiences I have of Him, whatever form they may take. However, I no longer seek the experiences OF Him rather to experience Him.
Nouwen's reflections of the "Desert Fathers" ( who lived in the Egyptian desert during the 4th and 5th centuries) lifestyle are a wonderful summary of how we can experience more of Him.
At times it was a challenging read as I couldn't immediately grasp some of the concepts presented, however, sometimes we need to allow ourselves to soak in new ideas so they can in-fill us over time. However, these few words are a great summary of the essence of the book:
"The Desert Fathers did not think of solitude as being alone, but as being alone with God. They did not think of silence as not speaking, but as listening to God. Solitude and silence are the context within which prayer is practiced. Prayer is standing in the presence of God with the mind in the heart."
I especially like a book that leaves me unsatisfied in a good way. It has made me thirsty for more. Especially to better understand how to pray with my mind in my heart.
It's sub-100 pages in length but allow time for the few words to distill in your heart.
This book is pleasantly different. It is engaging and written in an accessible style. The author's use of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (though unfortunately mostly Fathers) focuses their wisdom to make his point. And that point is a timely challenge to our place in the world as people of God. Nouwen argues that silence is an essential practice, especially in a culture of wordiness, and that prayer has been woefully misunderstood through a lens of rationalist thought.
I did find it ironic, having read some of his other works, to read, "Both these views of prayer are the products of a culture in which high value is placed on mastering the world through intellect." As a theologian, Nouwen embodies that culture. But this book isn't theological. It's pastoral. And it's very good. Perhaps it is even life-changing. But, as Nouwen observes, the divide between idea and activity is wide and difficult to bridge, so time will tell.
Top reviews from other countries
Similarly it says that many ministers have a poor prayer life - which if true is worrying - but it doesn't seem to occur to Nouwen to suggest the use of liturgical prayer.
Overall, a disappointingly shallow treatment of the subject which correctly identifies a serious problem but doesn't have much of an answer.