pictured here: Henri Nouwen (right) with speaking partner Bill Van Buren
from the Bill Van Buren memorial post on www.henrinouwen.org
I'm still not totally decided on whether this is a Christian blog or not.
(questioning both whether it's totally Christian. And if it's totally a blog…).
At the same time, I had a hoot reading a Christian book this week and thought I'd spread the love. Yes, having a hoot reading a Christian book is possible. At least for me.
Here's the book:
Part of the pleasant surprise for me was due to the title seeming so plain-Jane.
As you read it, you see how hugely appropriate it is.
Henri Nouwen is somewhat known among Christians for one crazy career move, from Yale & Harvard Divinity School academia to a priest at Daybreak L'Arche community (Toronto) for people with developmental disabilities. An image indelibly marked in my brain (not mentioned in this book) is his faithful service and indeed sense of calling, even in cleaning up residents who couldn't properly go to the bathroom… As an outline of this massive career transition, and never truly denying how crazy it was, the short book (81 pages total, big type in a small format too) serves as a juicy parable about what's really important enough in our lives to invest our time and energies into.
the story around the story
The prologue and epilogue frame this experience (the book is an adaptation of a talk given in Washington) in Nouwen giving this actual talk with Daybreak resident Bill Van Buren. After reading the prologue, I was so very tempted to skip to the epilogue, an option entirely open to you as the reader. I'm happy to say I resisted the temptation and feel all the more blessed to have the experience unfold as Nouwen had intended. How Van Buren complements the content and becomes a true partner is a parable in and around Nouwen's parable, painting a picture of the beauty of partnering: doing things together and having someone help you out in ways you could never do yourself. Really fighting hard now not to play spoiler…
Overall a very worthwhile read. Mainly intended for Christians but I'm quite curious about how it reads for anyone. I believe there are thought-provoking questions raised in the book about leadership in general. But that might just be me. Honestly, a big reason for reading this was because it's a suggested monthly reading from my church, First Baptist in Vancouver
. I am so so glad I took on this little bit of homework.