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Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life
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Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  1,677 ratings  ·  102 reviews
With clarity and deep spiritual insight, this religious bestseller offers today's Christian a perceptive, systematic plan for living the spiritual life achieving union with God.
Paperback, 153 pages
Published 1980 by Collins Fount Paperbacks (first published 1975)
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Some favorite quotes:

“Only few ‘happy endings’ make us happy, but often someone’s careful and honest articulation of the ambiguities, uncertainties and painful conditions of life gives us new hope.”

“When we think about the people who have given us hope and have increased the strength of our soul, we might discover that they were not the advice givers, warners or moralists, but the few who were able to articulate in words and actions the human condition in which we participate and who encouraged
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Kathleen Curtin
Nouwen offers counsel on moving from loneliness to solitude, from hostility to hospitality, and from illusion to prayer. In particular, his discussion of solitude was particularly helpful. For Nouwen, solitude is foundational to the other two forms of outreach because it provides a basis in the self from which to give to others. Nouwen takes solitude, usually not something that sounds very exciting, and presents it as a creative opportunity, a space within that can be offered to God and to other ...more
Doesn’t feel right to rank this one with the star-system; a good quiet read, especially the first two sections on loneliness/solitude and hostility/hospitality; Nouwen’s books repeat themselves often and also state the obvious, but I always find surprising new gems in his simple-seeming books.

Been thinking a lot about my philosophy of teaching lately, and he says beautiful things here about teacher as host, class as a space of hospitality: “A good host is the one who believes that his guest is c
This is one of my all-time favorite books. The clear writing is straightforward and the book progresses logically in three movements: from loneliness to solitude, hostility to hospitality, and from illusion to prayer. It is easy to understand yet I read it slowly to try to retain as much as possible. Sadly I came to the end of this amazing book today, but I'm sure I'll come back to it again and again.

One of the best quotes about this book appears in the foreword: "This book does not offer answe
Excellent book about the three movements of the spiritual life--transitioning from loneliness to solitude, hostility to hospitality, and illusion to prayer.
Darryl Howard
A friend gave me this book while I was going through a major life transistion. Not having a strong religious foundation growing up, I found myself in the beginning of the book resentful and slightly offended that my friend thought I needed 'reached out to'.

As I read more, those feelings swiftly changed and I embraced every chapter; each movement. This is a short read, but I read it slowly and repeated many pages to really grasp the message. I really enjoyed it and will continue to reference it
Mary Beth
This was helpful and thought provoking. It helped me think about the role that isolation and quiet times can actually play in building community. I was especially glad for the reminder that I do not need to be a type a personality in order to offer hospitality, and that sometimes being able to be quiet with someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

"In our solution-oriented society it is more important than ever to realize that wanting to alleviate pain without sharing it is like w
This is a book I have given to a friend who was sick and had to stay home for a month. She told me later on that she thought it was mean of me to let her read this book when she herself needed to be reached out. Of course she was judging the book by its cover. Surprisingly the book ministered to her in touching ways.
In this book, Nouwen quotes Rilke's advice to the young poet that he must "be patient toward all that is unsolved in [his] heart and try to love the questions themselves." I appreciate Nouwen's calm, thoughtful way of giving advice in this book. He talks about three movements: reaching out to our innermost self, reaching out to our fellow human beings, and reaching out to God. He says that we should create an inner space within ourselves, so that we can then turn to heal and affirm other people. ...more

If I could walk around each day with all the Henri Nouwen insights I've read over the years in my brain and my heart, I would be more content with myself and more loving toward others. I can testify, however, that this reality remains unrealized as, seven months after starting this book, I can only reference a couple of the wonderful sentences I read today.

Fortunately, Nouwen's themes are consistent, and this allows me to be at least a little influenced by his reflections when I remember to thi
Excellent explorations of some of the pain people suffer in loneliness, hostility and illusions. Gently written, looking at ways to reach out beyond these frustrations towards God.

Re-reading six years after I first read it, I don't find it quite as moving or inspirational as I did the first time; nonetheless, there's a lot to ponder. Nouwen writes well, in a thoughtful way: his theme is that we need to move from loneliness into a more spiritual and positive solitude, from hostility towards othe
He starts with talking about the pain of loneliness and our fear to feel pain. I'm one of those weird ones who prefer being alone, solitude and some people just don't get it. I've often wonder if I should have sought a more monastic life, but then I would not have my lovely daughter. Living in solitude does not mean we are monks, we live a life of oneness and compassion.

Nouwen second section is about hospitality, the act of reaching out to others, the hospitality of the mind and the heart. Livin
This is classic Nouwen, beautifully written and very thoughtful. It requires more than one read to really get where he is going and it seems as if the 3rd Movement should be first since all else starts with our relationship with God. The first movement begins with the individual - moving from loneliness and craving every distraction in life to becoming centered and ok with the self in true solitude of the heart. The problem is that this can only truly happen when you are in relationship with God ...more
This book was given to me by a friend who then became one of my pastors. She is a big fan of Henri J. M. Nouwen's writing. After reading this book I see why. He and she have a lot of similarities in the way they think. Which I find very interesting. Henri Nouwen really makes you think. He points out things and there meaning in a new light that can cause you to focus more and try to understand things that you do in your life. Reaching Out is about your spiritual life and the three steps you can t ...more
I read this in preparation for the Upper Room's 5-day "Academy for Spiritual Formation." The idea that Nouwen presents of moving from a life of loneliness to solitude and hostility to hospitality, all in an effort to improve your prayer life and spiritual life is extremely thought-provoking.
John Harold-Rysavy Pieper
I first read this book as a soon-to-be Pre-Med major freshman in college...

Yes, it had an immense impact on my life and helped to guide me to the Scriptures and Sacraments changing my life's direction as an 18 year old.

Now, some decades later, this is one book that still teaches me.
Henri Nouwen's book *Reaching Out* has deep insights to offer regarding hospitality - fitting well with the Monk Manifesto found at Abbey of the Arts...
"commit to radical acts of hospitality by welcoming the stranger both without and within. I recognize that when I make space inside my heart for the unclaimed parts of myself, I cultivate compassion and the ability to accept those places in others."
beautiful book of depth and understanding in the journey of hospitality
ever wonder if people want t
Meriah J VanderWeide
Beautiful solitude

Beautiful reflection on solitude and how it is necessary for the church community to run properly. I loved it! I would recommend it to any Christian looking to develop this discipline.
Melvyn Foo
Interesting ideas that are interestingly framed. This book gave me quite a bit to think about. It could have used tighter arguments. The relevance of the lengthy quotations were a stretch sometimes.
Steven Wedgeworth
A little intense at times and no doubt imbalanced, still this book powerfully expresses the depths of the soul. Nouwen also helpful retrieves the concept of interiority as a devotional necessity.
eric yoo
My parents sent me this book with an earnest plea written in the front cover for me to read it.

It was interesting to read someone categorize the human condition with such matter-of-factness. While reading it, I wondered if it gave insight into how my parents view me-manic and godless.

I laughed out loud at one anecdote he used to illustrate the difference between loneliness and solitude. A student comes into his office. They stare at each other without saying anything. And at the end, they come
Overall I thought it was a good read. Nouwen makes the point that we may long for community, but that longing may be misdirected. The goal of being in community is that everyone involved is for God and not for themselves or others and struggling with solitude is a good thing. We don't always have to be around people and when we are the goal is not to have a good time and be entertained. The only thing that rubbed me the wrong way the first time through is in the beginning the individual is highl ...more
Henri Nouwen remains my favorite spiritual writer. "Reaching Out" is basically divided into three major sections or "movements"--from loneliness to solitude, from hostility to hospitality, from illusion to prayer.

Good as a daily reader, with short sections within each chapter--"digestible" material which requires one to pause and reflect. As always, Nouwen incorporates concepts from the church, from other writers and from life experiences. The temper is one of encouragement, while sometimes bei
Elizabeth Drouillard
Incredibly thought-provoking. Nouwen looks at things in ways I've never thought of them before and this book was often over my head. I'd have to read sections over one or two times just to begin to grasp what he was saying or where he was going. Not a common occurrence for me and one of the reasons this book will probably be a regular reread over the years.

Having recently hosted someone in our home, the chapters on hospitality vs hostility and on what it means to create space for the stranger re
By far one of my favourite books on spirituality. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in books tackling the same subject.
Judy Theobald
Reading this book was like being given a light to show where I am and where the steps are going ... Beautifully written
Jun 19, 2007 Tim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
This book is shaping a great deal of my spiritual life since reading it. Nouwen has a great knack for showing us how differently (yet better) God desires us to relate with Him than the ways we are attempting. In the struggles of community and finding my place in the kingdom of God, Nouwen shows me clearly that God has already given me what I need within my soul - that I was designed from the beginning to relate to Him by finding solitude within my heart; that solitude turns my hostilities into h ...more
Andrew Cuthbert
I LOVED this book. I would recommend it for anyone, and I'd just about buy it for anyone too (though it's at the Wheaton library, so that'd save me some money)
John Penn
When I read this book in 1994 it marked a pivotal moment in my Christian journey.
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  • Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today
Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen (Nouen), (1932–1996) was a Dutch-born Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books on the spiritual life.

Nouwen's books are widely read today by Protestants and Catholics alike. The Wounded Healer, In the Name of Jesus, Clowning in Rome, The Life of the Beloved, and The Way of the Heart are just a few of the more widely recognized titles. After nearly two decades of
More about Henri J.M. Nouwen...
The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World The Inner Voice of Love

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“To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it it is the movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit,l from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.” 100 likes
“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.” 57 likes
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