The journey into a “heart spirituality” is not reserved for those who have the luxury of unhurried leisure or unceasing quietness. In another of his books, Nouwen wrote that if we cannot find God in the center of our lives, where our joys and pains are, it doesn’t really make sense to try to find God on the circumference.
I never met Nouwen, but some of my friends did; in fact, some spent extended periods of time with him and formed deep friendships with him. The editors of the book we’re looking at are two such people. Their admiration for Henri lies precisely in the fact that he lived a spiritual life in relation to his own activistic tendencies and the never-ending expectations of those around him—some of whom required enormous amounts of energy and time.
But Henri never backed away from a life-oriented formation. On the contrary, he felt that any authentic spirituality had to be lived right where our joys and pains are. In using these two words, he was connecting with the ancient concepts of consolation (joy) and desolation (pain), and he was rightly convinced that all is grace. He knew that God forms us through both.
The readers of this blog are ordinary people, who (after reading) must go into the world to deal with all sorts of situations and do all kinds of work. Be assured that our exploration of spiritual formation is meant to shape and sustain us for life “on the road.” Ours is no esoteric journey.