The last few nights have been somewhat sleepless. I'm the first one on the list of people the alarm company calls when the alarm goes off at school. We've had calls two nights in a row about the same classroom. The first night, Friday night, it took me 2 hours to fall back asleep. Last night I had trouble sleeping, but when the call came, I did manage to fall back asleep.
The first night, I got up and read two chapters of the last Harry Potter novel. I'm finding myself frustrated in the same ways (moments of delight at the inventiveness punctuated by long spells of boredom when I think about scenes that could be eliminated or condensed) that I was with the first 2 novels, and I don't know if I'm up for 700+ more pages of this.
Last night, I read Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life, a collection of Henri Nouwen's letters. What a delight! I'm not done yet, but it has captivated me--I can't wait to return to it.
I had hoped that it would be this kind of reading experience. I've always loved Nouwen's journals more than his more intentional writing. And when I've read work pulled from letters he wrote, I've loved that too.
His letters are full of warmth and honesty, no matter the audience. They're also full of good advice, even now, decades after they were written for someone specific. Here's an example: ". . . we would do well to think about what pastoral care for nostalgic people means. After all, don't we all desire to return to paradise?" (p. 8).
I was also intrigued by his work/academic/pastor life trajectory: not serious to get tenure at some schools, not theologically minded enough, not focused on regular pastoral life, so hard to please everyone.
The beginning material by the woman who compiled the text also provided fascinating insight into his writing life, his letter writing life. He was so meticulous, and even though his letters may talk about how long it has taken him to respond, he was responding to lots of people and staying connected.
I wish I could say that after reading his work, I fell into a blissful, non-worried sleep, but that was not the case. I read his book and wanted to write letters or theology or stay up late praying. To me, that's the mark of a wonderful book.
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