Henri Nouwen, for all of his scholarship and academic pedigree, was a master at taking aspects of the spiritual life and making them accessible and appealing. I have read his book, The Way of the Heart, many times and his Return of the Prodigal Son is one of my all time favorite books. I have recently completed reading Making All Things New and would highly recommend it as an introduction to the spiritual life and to the use of two important disciplines – solitude and community. I have provided my summary notes below so that you also can draw key insights from this book.
Our Present State
– We all share the same human condition
– Resignation of our spiritual state keeps us from growing
– Our occupations and preoccupations fill our external and internal lives to the brim and leave no room for God
Setting Our Hearts On the Kingdom of God
– A heart set on the Kingdom of God is a heart set on the spiritual life
– Jesus was concerned with one thing: to do the will of his father
– Everything that belongs to Jesus is given for us to receive. John 15:15
– Kingdom of God = rich variety of ways in which God makes his presence known to us
– In the Kingdom, everything is a gift or challenge that strengthens and deepens our new life.
– Hearts set on the kingdom = worries will slowly move to the background
– Spiritual Disciplines allow us to become attentive to the voice of God and respond to it
– God constantly speaks but we seldom hear it.
– If God is who he says he is then he deserves our undivided attention
– We often use our outer distractions to shield us from interior noises
– We do not take the spiritual life seriously if we do not set aside time to be with God and listen to him.
– A day without solitude is less spiritual than a day with it.
– To fight distractions, use scripture as a way to focus.
– Solitude= living active lives in the world while remaining always in the presence of God
– True community – always reveals to us who we are before God.
– Community is obedience practiced together
– Through solitude and community we try to remove the many obstacles which prevent us from listening to God’s voice.
– Spiritual Life – active presence of God’s Spirit in the midst of a worry filled existence
– If we are faithful to our disciplines, a new hunger will make itself known. First, we will start to recognize God’s presence. Then we will be led deeper into the Kingdom of God. Finally, all thing will begin to be made new.