25 June 2009

Read This Book

Turn My Mourning Into Dancing by Henri Nouwen

I'm thinking about buying this book in bulk and handing it on the street corners.

Seriously. It's that good.

(At least, it's that good to me right now. And I know books are like that. They seem like miniature miracles when the words hit you when you most need them. )

This book is about suffering. And hope. It is about pain. And grief. And grace.

And it is about seeing God in the suffering.

Nouwen says, "We do not nurse the illusion that we can hopscotch our way through difficulties. For by trying to hide parts of our story from God's eye and our own consciousness, we become judges of our own past. We limit divine mercy to our human fears. Our efforts to disconnect ourselves from our own suffering end up disconnecting our suffering from God's suffering for us. The way out of our loss and hurt is in and through. When Jesus said, 'For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners' (Matt. 9:13), he affirmed that only those who can face their wounded condition can be available for healing and enter a new way of living."

The way out of our loss and hurt is in and through.

This train of thought is foreign to me. I want to avoid my loss. I want to run from my suffering. I want to obliterate my pain. I don't want to go in and through it.

This book offers a message of gratitude.

"If God is found in our hard times, then all of life, no matter how apparently insignificant or difficult, can open us to God's work among us. To be grateful does not mean repressing our remembered hurts. "

"To heal is to let the Holy Spirit call me to dance, to believe again, even amid my pain, that God will orchestrate and guide my life."

"It takes sustained effort to reclaim my whole past as the concrete way God has led me to this moment. For in doing so I must face not only today's hurts, but the past's experiences of rejection or abandonment or failure or fear."

"As long as we remain resentful about things we wish had not happened, about relationships that we wish had turned out differently, mistakes we wish we had not made, part of our heart remains isolated, unable to bear fruit in the new life ahead of us. It is a way we hold ourselves apart from God."

Oh my goodness.

There is so much more. But this post is already long. And the night is late as I type this. And I have a young son whose tiny tummy will soon be alerting him to its desire for sustenance. And so I must stop.

Read this book.

And then talk to me about it.


  1. sounds like a must read. i'll put it on my list. thanks! have i told you lately how excited i am to see you and the crew soon??? :)

  2. Thanks so much for bringing BOOKS!! into your blog. I love recommendations. I've heard Peter quote from this author but never have read anything from him. I'm finishing up Sacred Marriage. It's taking a while . . . I read half a chapter and end up so bruised and bleeding that it takes me a week to recover : )!! I think I'll make this book my "next read." Thanks so much for the review!