Nouwen’s final element in his list of a few common elements is freedom (pp. xxviii-xxix).
He uses the word (as with the others) to describe the larger reality he calls “the way of the heart.” He wrote an entire book on this subject, and I commend it to you.
But for now, he uses freedom to bring his discussion of fundamental Christian spirituality to a close. He does this because freedom is the sign that our hearts have been set free from all the sins and illusions which imprison us in our fallen-world order and actions.
But this is not “freedom” in the way the world so often defines it. It is freedom to live because the cosmic truths of God have now been planted in our hearts. We have been offered—and we have accepted—the sacred “stuff” out of which life is created and continues.
We have received Christ as the ultimate revelation of Reality, and we are now engaged of becoming conformed to his image for the sake of others. We are now following the one who is Truth, who said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).
Lectio, silence, community, and service are all expressed in the sacred freedom given to us by Christ to live our lives according to the gift and guidance of grace.
Thus Nouwen writes, “The spiritual life is a life in which we are set free by the Spirit of God to enjoy life in its fulness” (p. xxix).