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This gay priest saved me with his tenderness.

How Henri Nouwen's Inner Voice of Love rescued me after I left the convent.


Henri Nouwen next to speaker Ronald Rolheiser


I had been recently bedridden. 


After throwing myself headlong into religious life, my life’s trajectory came to a screeching halt.


I was supposed to be a sister. I had felt called, drawn, passionate


For 14 years the monastic life had been the clear path in front of me. When I entered, I thought that this would be how I would be shaped and molded, how I would give of myself and learn what holiness looked like for me.


I could never have anticipated just how wrong I was.

Now, newly home from Rome (with the help of a wheelchair), I grappled with what this turn of events meant for me.


I was so ill and so weak I couldn’t find the strength to smile.


What was I to do with this calling to love and serve?

What did it mean when I couldn't pray?

What was the point of my life?

 

And would I be bedridden forever?



And then along came Henri Nouwen.

My spiritual director, who had been through some of his own falling apart, recommended The Inner Voice of Love.


This book was never intended to be published, he told me.


It was a collection of Nouwen’s secret journals during the most difficult period of his life. He wrote to himself daily, what he called a “spiritual imperative.”


Before I knew how to put words to my crisis, Nouwen unveiled his own anguish–and his glimpses of hope.

As I thrashed and reeled in the chaos of my illness and resurfacing trauma and new life trajectory, Nouwen invited me to tenderness.


Maybe this place isn’t so bad. 


Maybe this is simply new.

Startling, painful–but not bad.


New.


Is it possible that this is precisely where you’re supposed to be?


“You have an idea what the new country looks like. 


Still, you are very much at home, although not truly at peace, in the old country. 

You know the ways of the old country, its joys and pains, its happy and sad moments. 

You have spent most of your days there. 


Even though you know that you have not found there what your heart most desires, you remain quite attached to it. It has become part of your very bones.


Image of the Inner Voice of Love, a book by Henri Nouwen
Now you have come to realize that you must leave it and enter the new country, where your Beloved dwells. 

You know that what helped and guided you in the old country no longer works, but what else do you have to go by? 


You are being asked to trust that you will find what you need in the new country. 

That requires the death of what has become precious to you: influence, success, yes, even affection and praise.


Trust is so hard, since you have nothing to fall back on. 


Still, trust is what is essential. The new country is where you are called to go, and the only way to go there is naked and vulnerable.

It seems that you keep crossing and recrossing the border. For a while you experience a real joy in the new country. 


But then you feel afraid and start longing again for all you left behind, so you go back to the old country. 


To your dismay, you discover that the old country has lost its charm. 


Risk a few more steps into the new country, trusting that each time you enter it, you will feel more comfortable and be able to stay longer.” 

--Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love



Leaving the old country is wildly uncomfortable.


The only way to enter the new country is “naked and vulnerable.”

Yet while the arrival is filled with bewilderment—the exploration can be thrilling.


It took me over a year to settle into this new space. Had it not been for the tenderness of Henri Nouwen, my spiritual director, and a few key friends,

I wonder if I would have made it.

So you can understand why I am so passionate about the mystics - including Henri Nouwen. Whether you are just arriving to a new landscape or have been off-roading for decades,

the mystics provide companionship and deeply grounded wisdom.

This Saturday, I am thrilled to be joined by the award-winning teacher Ronald Rolheiser for an immersive exploration of this spiritual wilderness.


Rolheiser is one of the most beloved spiritual writers today, and in his authenticity, reminds me of Nouwen.


Join us to discover the crucial role tenderness plays in the spiritual life--and why it may be the core ingredient for divine intimacy.


Henri Nouwen next to speaker Ronald Rolheiser

PS. Explore new spiritual landscapes with experienced guides!

 

 

Can’t join us live? Register now to receive the recording afterwards!

 

 

This offering is part of the Modern Mystics School. We’re offering a masterclass on a different 20th century mystic each month!




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