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Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life
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Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  983 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Invites readers to reflect on the tension between the desire for solitude, and the demands of contemporary life. This work reminds, that it was in solitude that Jesus found the courage to follow God's will, and shows that fruitful love and service must spring from a living relationship with God.
Paperback, 63 pages
Published October 15th 2004 by Ave Maria Press (first published November 30th 1973)
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Jul 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I have had an exceptional year when it comes to reading some really great books. This is another one to add to that list. Henry Nouwen is quickly becoming one of my favorite spiritual authors. He was a professor of Divinity at Yale, and yet somehow manages to say the most profound things using simple phrases that pull on the heart-strongs and make you go, "Yes, I've felt that way too!" This book talks about the importance of solitude, care, and expectation. He talks about how Jesus often withdre ...more
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
This is such a slim, small book, yet it has depths of the deepest ocean within. First appering as sermons given at an university, its filled with sentences that strike you, in a good way.

The main point is about seeking solitude daily to get closer to God and becoming a better person. The writing is in three chapters, each with a theme: solitude + action (solitude is needed for our soul not to get lost in pursuits of life); care (being there), not just cure; and on hopeful expectation for things
CJ Pine
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In 63 pages, Nouwen presents solitude as the basis of intimate community, mutual vulnerability, real care that witnesses: “joy and sadness are as close to each other as the splendid colored leaves of a New England fall to the soberness of the barren trees.”

The story of the gnarled tree is brilliant: “Why is this tree so tall, so huge, so gnarled, so old and beautiful? Because it is useless. If it had been useful it would have been cut long ago and made into tables and chairs, but because it is u
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books to give as a gift. Great comfort and direction about how to understand your work--and it's place in your life. He works through the need for and joys of solitude. Then he explains the richness that a heart shaped by solitude brings to the community. He always ends with community.

If you've read Nouwen, you'll find that his style in Out of Solitude is different from other works. I don't know the reason for this. But he uses words a small child would understand--I
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Not finished yet, so can't say 5 stars, but it's on it's way! A couple favorite passages:

(From Thomas Merton's forward)
"The compulsion to cure is like action without a deep and silent center. We want to overcome problems and adversities and want to change at all costs. An alternative is to care for ourselves, each other, and our world. We wouldn't need change and cure if we were in a constant caring mode."

From the first section
"Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our lives are in dange
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian, read-2009
A short book, but thought-provoking. It's three meditations that were originally given as sermons. They are short and simple, but at the same time profound. I re-read two of them as soon as I had finished, so as to take them in better.

The first one talks about the need for withdrawing to be alone with God; the second about the need for care - for empathy, and suffering alongside people - in a society that's more concerned with cure. The third is about living in expectation of better things, and
Robert Clay
Jan 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Nouwen packs a lot of simple, yet no less profound, wisdom into these three short meditations. Each is drawn from a Gospel lesson, with the interconnected focus of solitude, care, and expectation.
An excerpt:
'This is the great conversion in our life: to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the way in which God molds our hearts and prepares us for His return.'
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nouwen reflects on the importance of solitude in achieving balance in our daily walk. Time spent alone with God allows us to become more aware of His purposes and equips us to let go of the world's.

This short but weighty set of three messages require time to percolate as there is much to contemplate.

Highly recommended.
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Out of Solitude reads like a manual in advanced prayer - prompting more questions about one's self than it answers. The book contains three meditations on solitude, caring, and expectation. Each are scripturally-based and supported, giving the reader a firm foundation on which to assess their lives and discern the direction they wish to follow in light of these revelations.
Karen L.
Dec 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I found this short book very refreshing. I want to read more Henri Nouwen. His style is very personal. He writes humbly and honestly out of his own struggles. I like how each section opens with a gospel passage emphasizing Christ's quiet times of solitude with his Father.
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful tool for the comtemplative practice. I read it before bed and spend time in silence with God. Not a lot of words in this book, mostly a thought provoking ushering into moments of solitude.
Porter Sprigg
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
Jesus sought solitude. If we are to pursue his example, so should we. It will inform us and fill us with his love and security.
Nov 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
This was the first book I read by Henri Nouwen. Love this author. He is one of those teachers that teaches from the heart of one who has "been there".
Mar 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like most Nouwen I've read, this was really rich. I wrote down a lot of quotes from a small book.
An Te
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These are some reflections from Father Nouwen on solitude, care and expectation.

The need for solitude in this age is much needed. Where we are easily propelled by a need to do, we have, at times, lost our way from simply being. Nouwen says solitude is the cornerstone for meaningful action. We seek solitude, with God, and are thus better equipped to help an ailing world. He only expresses much more beautifully than I can.

Contrary to the world's desire to cure (most) ills, simple and gracious care
brian d rogers
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Inspiring and helpful, especially the first section on where we find our worth.

"...the erroneous conclusion that life is one large scoreboard... and before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers. That means we are not only in the world, but also of the world. Then we become what the world makes us. We are intelligent because someone gives us a high grade. We are helpful because someone says thanks. We are likable because someone likes us, etc""

I liked this bit o
Rob McMonigal
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
A set of three short meditations based on sermons given by the author.

As I continue to explore a renewed relationship with Christ, I look for ways to learn about the experiences and advice of others. However, I admit that I have an angle to my own faith, and that's that we are here to ensure we help each other actively. So the idea of "care not cure" which is a central theme, clashed for me. It reminded me too much of "thoughts and prayers" when action could actually limit gun violence. There's
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has become my go-to when I need to calm my mind at work. I'm in a helping profession, and it can be overwhelming. When it is, I take a break to read one meditation, and no matter how many times I've read them through before I find some new solace. Spiritual writings are hard to review, as spirituality and what speaks to someone's inner life can be so varied. However, I feel confident saying that even if Henri Nouwen isn't your cup of tea, you will appreciate the way he writes about Jes ...more
Alex Parrish
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nouwen
Really short but really worth it. A brief stream of consciousness which demonstrates how time in a "lonely place" brings us back to a place where we genuinely care for others and experience fuller life ourselves.
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nouwen weaves together the themes of action, solitude, care, community, and expectation together in these three meditations; perfect, I think, for caregivers.
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book.
Nichole Martini
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-growth
Brilliant! I have grown from everything I have read that Henri Nouwen has written.
Mike Riddell
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ehs
A masterful and short work from Nouwen who’s fast becoming one of my favourite spiritual formation writers.

Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Packs a punch

The three meditations are short, but incredibly dense and powerful. While it's easy to skim (as I did), the content is so rich that you should take time to reflect and process the meditations in earnest.
Jon Stout
Mar 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: the caring and the curious
Recommended to Jon by: Candace Sandfort
Shelves: religion
These meditations, used in a Lenten Study, serve to orient one spiritually and have some kinship with Buddhist meditation practices. I find Nouwen to be very down-to-earth and concrete in talking about spiritual life.

The first meditation emphasizes the need for solitude, for withdrawing from the crowd from time to time to find one’s own personal center and to experience the world without the background noise of the marketplace, either inside or outside of one’s own head.

The second meditation emp
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My mother slipped her browny-orange copy from '77 into my bag before she left, her name in cursive inside the front cover, pumpkin-round and unslanted. Solitude, suffering, vocation, creativity, caring, community, joy, bread, wine. This is the Christianity and Nouwen is the type of christian I remember growing up with. Basically where all my values came from, although I no longer have faith. I read it out of duty and nostalgia, but found so much is relevant to my current reflections, because the ...more
Mad Russian the Traveller
This was light but profound, and it's as if the author had read Bonhoeffer's "Life Together" because there were some places where the words were eerily parallel. This will be re-read again as there is so much to mine that I might as well post the entire contents. The author uses the biblical dialectic like Bonhoeffer does in the above referenced work. Here is an example from the Introduction:

"I want to reflect on this lonely place in our lives. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our l
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book on the recommendation of a friend and was not disappointed. It is brief and in the spirit of Nouwen's mystical writings. The book is essentially looking at how we can live meaningful lives as believers in a broken world. It focuses on three key aspects of Christian spirituality: solitude that detaches us from results-based identity, care that connects us genuinely with the hurting and expectation that gives us joy to press on despite the pain knowing that our healer is comi ...more
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our lives are in danger. Somewhere we know that without silence our words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure."

"It is in this solitude that we discover than being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts."

These are just a few of the many wise words Henri Nouwen relays to his readers in this tiny, thin little book. It's a book
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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
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” 13456 likes
“When we start being too impressed by the results of our work, we slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life is one large scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure our worth. And before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers. That means we are not only in the world, but also of the world. Then we become what the world makes us. We are intelligent because someone gives us a high grade. We are helpful because someone says thanks. We are likable because someone likes us. And we are important because someone considers us indispensable. In short, we are worthwhile because we have successes. And the more we allow our accomplishments — the results of our actions — to become the criteria of our self-esteem, the more we are going to walk on our mental and spiritual toes, never sure if we will be able to live up to the expectations which we created by our last successes. In many people’s lives, there is a nearly diabolic chain in which their anxieties grow according to their successes. This dark power has driven many of the greatest artists into self-destruction.” 43 likes
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