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Daily Meditation and Spiritual Living: Review of You Are Beloved by Henri J.M. Nouwen

J.M. Nouwen’s life embodied meditation - deep and thoughtful consideration that sought not an empty mind, but one filled with God’s content. By filling it with the right content, and focusing seriously upon the kingdom of God within us, we can allow God’s spirit to master and transform us.

The word “meditation” stirs up many concepts, perceptions and thoughts when it’s said aloud. In fact, many Christians who fear allowing thoughts that might possibly dilute what they believe will balk at the word. However, the concept of meditation is a Biblical one.

Remember that Joshua 1:8 tells us to “meditate” on the word “day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

It’s not about clearing one’s mind. Meditation is actually about filling it – with the right content. It’s about sorting it, understanding it, knowing and living it. Daily devotions is one such way to get that content.  

Meditation on Being Beloved

Do you consider yourself to be beloved by God? I think it is common to remember we are God’s children and that God loves us. Most definitions will say loved and beloved are essentially the same. However, I tend to think the latter is of a deeper level.  

And I think I often overlook the fact that God does not just love us, but he deeply and intimately loves us.

In much of Henri M. Nouwen’s ministry, he was devoted to emphasizing the concept of our identity as the beloved of God.

He once stated a belief that the central moment of Jesus’s public ministry was his baptism in the Jordan River. That is when Jesus heard the affirmation, “You are my beloved son on whom my favor rests.” In that moment, Jesus is reminded who he is and his whole life is constantly claiming that identity throughout everything.

You Are Beloved is a daily devotional that empowers readers to realize this truth in their own lives. Featuring Nouwen’s writing from previously published works, it appeals to a diverse set of readers and it will guide them into a deeper awareness of their identity in Jesus. (Note: Crown Publishing/Convergent Books provided me with a review copy.)

An Understanding of Spiritual Reading

Devotionals can sometimes be difficult to review because the reviewer doesn’t have opportunity to read daily for a year. That is the typical way in which devotionals are intended to be used. So, when I review them, I tend to select a few per day over a course of a few days to get a good feel.

I also review the preface or introduction.  A brief excerpt of Nouwen’s Here and Now appears in the intro of You Are Beloved, saying;

“The purpose of spiritual reading . . . is not to master knowledge or information but to let God’s Spirit master us.”

He goes on to claim that spiritual reading is an opportunity for us to be read by God.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Sounds preposterous, doesn’t it? I mean, God already knows us, right? What reading must he do of us?

As we find God’s gentle whisper in the stillness outside the chaos, much takes place. “With an inner attentiveness to the movement of God’s Spirit in our outer and inner lives. With that attentiveness we will allow God to read us and to explain to us what are truly about.”

Henri Nouwen battled lifelong loneliness and anxiety, including a spiral of self-rejection and despair (boy, can I relate)! It was in this anguish, Nouwen had an epiphany while meeting  with God in solitude; “You are the Beloved of God.”

Henri found joy and, by claiming his belovedness, he had more compassion for people who hurt him, more courage, loving kindness, and felt more at peace with himself and the world.

You Are Beloved is a book of daily meditations. It is an invitation to walk with Nouwen through your own heart, to where the soft, gentle voice of God can be heard.

You Are Beloved

J.M. Nouwen’s life embodied meditation - deep and thoughtful consideration that sought not an empty mind, but one filled with God’s content. By filling it with the right content, and focusing seriously upon the kingdom of God within us, we can allow God’s spirit to master and transform us.

J.M. Nouwen’s life embodied meditation – deep and thoughtful consideration that sought not an empty mind, but one filled with God’s content. By filling it with the right content, and focusing seriously upon the kingdom of God within us, we can allow God’s spirit to master and transform us.

While these are not direct quotes, here are some selected observations while reading. I pray they might serve as opportunities for your own meditation:

  • Meditation and spiritual reading is not a quest to master knowledge or information, Instead, it’s allowing God’s Spirit master us.
  • Praying is an act of opening your hands before God.
  • The Kingdom of God is within you (as shown in Luke 17:21). The prayer filled with heart takes this seriously.
  • Don’t fear your pain. Be brave enough to embrace it. We are all wounded, so let’s put our brokenness under the blessing.
  • God doesn’t ask (or promise) that you shall have a successful life. Instead he desires that you have a fruitful life.
  • Be present to the moment, believing that this moment is the moment.

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ABOUT HENRINOUWEN

Henri M. Noreen was a Dutch-born Catholic priest, professor, and pastor. He gained international renown as the author of over 30 books on the spiritual life, including such classics as The Wounded Healer, The Inner Voice of Love, and The Return of the Prodigal Son. Nouwen’s books have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold upwards of seven million copies worldwide, resonating with people across the religious, spiritual, cultural, and political spectrum. Since his death in 1996, ever-increasing numbers of readers, writers, teachers, and seekers have been guided by his literary legacy. Learn more at the Henri Nouwen Society.

About Chad Gramling

Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He’s the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.