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The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,138 ratings  ·  86 reviews
The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery is Henri Nouwen's journal of his seven-month stay in the Abbey of the Genesee in upstate New York. His reflections on daily life with the Trappists are funny, wise, and often profound--resembling Kathleen Norris's The Cloister Walk, but a bit less thematically structured and more down to earth. Nouwen's goal is simply to ...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published September 1995 by Darton, Longman & Todd (first published 1976)
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  1,138 ratings  ·  86 reviews


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Mike Nicastro
Feb 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a diary, and thus, has no start-to-finish page-turning narrative engineered to wow and awe. This is, however, a diary, and thus instead of offering premeditated platitudes, messages, and escapes from our humanity, presses into the simple and mundane. It’s honest, so so very honest, the most honest of Henri I’ve read. He talks about what makes him tired, angry, sad, and joyful. He talks about his shame, his guilt, his agony of the hurting world. He struggles to keep up with the manual wor ...more
Kristin
This is gentle, thoughtful reading, rather than OMG AMAZING reading. I vacillated between 3 and 4 stars here, because of that, settling on 3 only because I have other gentle thoughtful books that I still enjoyed reading more, and ate up in fewer sessions. But this is very much worth reading, gently and thoughtfully.

It's also a diary, which means it won't always be as thematic or developed as another kind of book would be. This isn't a flaw; just a fact of the book.

I particularly liked Nouwen's c
...more
Jennifer
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful story of life in a Trappist monastery. Although only living there for seven months, Henri is brutally honest in his writing and faces his feelings of inadequacy, anger, confusion, and moodiness. It is refreshing to experience his struggles and how to become a better person. He learns a lot and this book is full of good advice and uplifting quotes and verse. Keep it simple- that seems to be the building block of their lives.
My favorite line is "God is in the gentle breeze with
...more
Michael McCue
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Henri Nouwen was an author, Dutch Catholic priest, and academic. He was a professor at Yale among other places. In 1974 he went to live as a monk at the Trappist Abbey of the Genesee near Rochester, New York. He did not join the the Trappists and stay as a professed monk but came to spend 7 months living as a monk and reflecting on his life. The diary he kept during those seven months was published later at the urging of some of his fiends. While at the Abbey Nouwen entered into the balanced mon ...more
Kristi
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: god-stuff
Nouwen's account of a 7-month sabbatical at a Trappist monastery near Rochester, NY. He went there to avoid the busyness of teaching/speaking/writing about God and prayer, which kept him from experiencing God and prayer.

On his sabbatical, Nouwen struggles with being "unimportant," unnoticed, unexceptional, etc. due to his withdrawal from the world. Manual labor (working in the bakery, for example) triggers negative emotions, which Nouwen examines. He learns how his pride and lack of trust are t
...more
Maura
Mar 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic, religion
A book at my folks' place that i started last time i visited, and finished up this time around. It's a diary of Nouwen's 7 months at a Trappist monastery and what it's like to be part of a cloistered community (tho from a slightly outsider point of view, since Nouwen is not, himself, a Trappist). He sometimes slides into pouting that he's not being changed as much as he had hoped by the experience, but then he also captures a good many moments of insight & introspection. Probably better to read ...more
Wanda
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'm not a huge fan of Henri Nouwen. Some of his books I like, others I don't. I picked up this book on a whim at the library at church. I find myself enjoying it, and hating it, at the same time. A lot of the questions Nouwen asks himself about his spiritual growth are the same ones I'm asking myself now. So its interesting to see the struggle played out in someone else's diary, yet upsetting to have so much laid bare. Other than that, its an easy, fun read.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
...more
Phil
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I think this is the fourth or fifth time, I've read this very honest and self-effacing book which has earned its classic status in Christian spirituality. This time around Nouwen's struggle with maintaining a good attitude while doing physical work or, really, anything other than just reading and thinking resonated with me, largely because I recognize the same struggle in me. Well worth reading and re-reading. ...more
Colleen
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most formative books I have ever read. It instilled in me a deep desire for contemplative prayer. My success at being more contemplative comes and goes, but my desire for it never changes. Henri Nouwen is a Catholic academic who chooses to spend the better part of a year in a Trappist monestery. The book traces his spiritual evolution during that time.
Josh Gaudreau
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So incredibly insightful. Even though Nouwen and I are very different I saw my struggles in his.

I began reading this book on an airplane, an old and used 2nd hand copy, and forgot it in the country I visited. Knew I'd have to get another copy and didn't regret it at all.

This is a book I'll come back to again.
...more
diane nienhuis
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A constant reminder to live a Simple Life.
Winifred
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book many years ago and rereading it now, i realise it still speaks to me.
Eric
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Inspiring and is very human in its discovery of himself. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Gino
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A strikingly honest and interesting journey through Nouwen’s seven months in a Trappist monastery. He shares of his struggles and joys with contemplation, prayer, and simple living.

This quote, while not a summary of the book, was really encouraging to me:

“The basis of community is not primarily our ideas, feelings, and emotions about each other but our common search for God. When we keep our minds and hearts directed toward God, we will come more fully ‘together.’”

I read this while on vacation
...more
Corey
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I've never read anything by Nouwen but if this is anything like his other works I would love to read more. This is Nouwen's diary from living in a monastery for 7 months. Nouwen's analysis of his own thought life is challenging and by far the most prominent take away. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. ...more
Clayton
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The best expression of the frailty of a person's insecurities; especially poignant since it comes from an esteemed psychologists and theologian. I will re-read, especially when I am struggling with separating myself from the demands of the world. The ending is totally apt, yet not satisfying...completely real. ...more
Alexis
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up after finished the posthumous collection of Nouwen's writings on Spiritual Direction. Nouwen was a great writer and his reflections feel like a voicing of common struggles with the Catholic spiritual life and prayer. A wonderful, page-turning read which I will eventually pick up again for a second time through. ...more
Jeremy
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian-life
This is a collection of Nouwen's journal entries from a stay in a monastery. The raw and unfiltered reflections give me hope in my own very non-linear journey and encourage me to continue being honest with God and myself about where I am at! ...more
Margaret Mechinus
Apr 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
I am going through my bookshelves and found all my notes written in the margins of this book. I read it in 1991 when I was in the midst of being a wife and mother to six kids from 2 years to 21. I think at the time I very much wanted to go live in a monastery myself.
Tim Hatton
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Nouwen’s introspective humility is inspiring and insightful.
Jay
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This diary offered some profound thoughts on prayer, contemplation, the struggles of ministry, sacred space, worship, and many other areas of the Christian life.
Donald W May
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Spiritualiry

Father Nouwen learned a lot.from his at the happiest monastery. His thoughts were much more reasonable than those from Thomas.Merron.
Dylan Bryce
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've read in awhile ...more
Karen Wilk
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting, honest reflections...
Andy Littleton
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Pleasant surprise! Reading Nouwen’s honest reflections awakened me to similar reflections and encouraged me to form deeper spiritual practices.
Brice Karickhoff
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're gonna read someones journals, George Muller is better I think. But this one is really cool. My first real glimpse into the monastic life that isnt 1800 years old. ...more
Kyle Tabet
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, vulnerable and gentle book about a man discovering how to find a deeper spiritual life.
Betsy
Jun 30, 2020 rated it liked it
I definitely should have started reading Nouwen long ago.
Carol Stevenson
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nouwen spent several months in a Trappist monastery. It was a journey of self awareness.
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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
...more

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