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Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World

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Initially written for a Jewish friend, Life of the Beloved has become Henri Nouwen’s greatest legacy to Christians around the world. This sincere testimony of the power and invitation of Christ is indeed a great guide to a truly uplifting spiritual life in today’s world.

160 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1992

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About the author

Henri J.M. Nouwen

355 books1,720 followers
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 teaching at the Menninger Foundation Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, and at the University of Notre Dame, Yale University and Harvard University, he went to share his life with mentally handicapped people at the L'Arche community of Daybreak in Toronto, Canada. After a long period of declining energy, which he chronicled in his final book, Sabbatical Journey, he died in September 1996 from a sudden heart attack.

His spirituality was influenced by many, notably by his friendship with Jean Vanier. At the invitation of Vanier he visited L'Arche in France, the first of over 130 communities around the world where people with developmental disabilities live and share life together with those who care for them. In 1986 Nouwen accepted the position of pastor for a L'Arche community called "Daybreak" in Canada, near Toronto. Nouwen wrote about his relationship with Adam, a core member at L'Arche Daybreak with profound developmental disabilities, in a book titled Adam: God's Beloved. Father Nouwen was a good friend of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin.

The results of a Christian Century magazine survey conducted in 2003 indicate that Nouwen's work was a first choice of authors for Catholic and mainline Protestant clergy.

One of his most famous works is Inner Voice of Love, his diary from December 1987 to June 1988 during one of his most serious bouts with clinical depression.

There is a Father Henri J. M. Nouwen Catholic Elementary School in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 913 reviews
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
971 reviews17.6k followers
March 12, 2023
Guess what? YOU - little nondescript YOU, searching out friends or UNfriends out there in lonely cyberspace - yes you, ARE THE BELOVED!

You, glorious YOU.

(Who loves ya, baby???


We may NOT think we Need the Life of the Beloved now, but when the sheer brute force of circumstance brings us down - cowering, right to our knees, as may soon happen to many of us - we may well reconsider.

What is the Life of the Beloved?

It is a life shared by believers everywhere, whom God has turned around - to see and accept Him: on YOUR terms.

Just as and where you are - WHEREVER that happens to be - no matter HOW bashed and embittered you are.

These folks like you have become bashed and ruined by their insights into the Truth about themselves: we ARE ALL hypocrites.

For finding your true self can be suddenly seeing THROUGH our own lies to the Real You.

But that in turn becomes a life of sheer love - love in the sense of Agape and NOT Eros - for only then Agape can become Universal.

Cause if it is erotic, you can be darned sure it won’t be shared everywhere without distinction -

That is a hard fact of life. Some folks have scruples. And the good manners to avoid boorish things.

So for one thing, it’s not an easy way, this Life of the Beloved, its simple Agape...

But you’re otherwise gonna be sent tumbling to your knees endlessly by the trolls and Pharisees. And by God - like in this current crisis.

And so what do you do if you fall?

You stay there, and you Pray for those Trolls. And then you turn the other cheek.

And before you know it, as both Nouwen and The Heidelberg Catechism tell us, staying there on our knees peacefully is Our Only Comfort.

Sound like a tall order?

It is - and Henri Nouwen and I both know that.

But we just do it.

And do you know what?

Succeed or Fail - it’s the Way.

When eventually we pick ourselves up and get back in the Race - like Sinatra - we’ve gotta merely say cheerfully, “that’s life!” And try to smile away the pain.

For by doing that we see our own face.

And become Broken... but NOT ASHAMED OF OUR BROKENNESS!

But you know what else - something that might REALLY surprise you?

Nouwen says elsewhere that that will only prove, overall in our life, that the single way to achieve a state of real Peace and Love - is to be Blessed, Broken and Shared, like altar bread.

Now that’s rum.

T’ain’t far wrong, folks!

Are you READY to be blessed, broken and shared throughout your life?

Is THIS the Life of the Beloved?

To be trammelled like the Lord, Broken like His bread and His body by everyone - INCLUDING -


Et tu, Brute?

If you see it, you see God’s loving, adamant Face. Two sides.

Because that’s the way it is. It’s the Open Way - as Frost implies in Directive.

There’s really nothing in it for US in the end.

Except the joy of love.

But - who else will stay with you after your last gasp?

The truth is in the tasting...

I’m a hypocrite, don’t take it from me -

I continually fail at what I do.

But I’m taking no chances.

So if I succeed or fail, He’s there.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
751 reviews16 followers
April 1, 2012
While I love Nouwen, I was disappointed by this work. I found it to be a beautiful depiction of the Gospel message with one vital omission: Christ. He speaks of us as being (like the bread of the Eucharist) taken, blessed, broken, and given. It is a wonderful way of presenting the role we play in this world, and how God prepares us for this role. However, without the explanation of why we are broken and how we are blessed, the work rings hollow.

I find it interesting that in the epilogue Nouwen admits that his secular friend, for whom he wrote the book, didn't feel that the book addressed where he and his friends were at. I think that this speaks to the fact that the Gospel, stripped of "religious language" can be powerfully effective, but not if it also has the very heart removed.

If you want to read your first Nouwen, go with Return of the Prodigal or The Way of the Heart.
Profile Image for Rachel | All the RAD Reads.
995 reviews1,085 followers
January 28, 2022
I cannot say enough good things about this book. I have already come back to it more than a handful of times to soak up the words again and again and again. I have always loved and wrestled with the idea of being beloved, and this book illuminated all of that. Originally written by Nouwen for a Jewish friend, I found it incredibly convicting and humbling and stunning as a lifelong Christian. I want to get the word beloved tattooed on my body to remind me forever of the core truth of my identity: I am His Beloved.
Profile Image for Leslie.
110 reviews3 followers
February 13, 2009
Parts of this book were incredibly good, but I can't recommend it unreservedly.

I resonated with his explanation of our being loved by God, missing that point, and therefore trying to substitute affirmation from the world in place of God's love.

I disagreed with his premise that we can influence this world as spirits after we die. I think that's Catholic vs evangelical theology.

But at the end, it turned out that he missed the mark. The book was written to a friend, a secular Jewish man, who asked Nouwen to "speak to us about the deepest yearning of our hearts, ...." And in the end, Nouwen wasn't able to do that.

I believe the failure to bridge the gap between secular and spiritual is due to his omission of sin and repentance. In his earnest desire to invite his friend to a spiritual life, he neglects to mention that there is a cost.

Yes, God loves all of us. But in order to claim that "belovedness" we have to acknowledge our unworthiness and rebellion. We need to come before God on the basis of Jesus' acceptability, not our own. Only then can we say "yes" to God.

In short, Nouwen leaves out the Gospel.
Profile Image for Neil R. Coulter.
1,064 reviews104 followers
June 26, 2020
Henri Nouwen wrote Life of the Beloved as a kind of letter to a good friend, a secular Jew, who asked Nouwen to write a book that speaks to the questions he and his friends in NYC were asking about God, spirituality, and the meaning of life. This friend said that he enjoyed Nouwen’s previous books, but felt that they were kind of “preaching to the choir”—fine for people who already believed, but less relevant to people with more basic questions and skepticism.

The resulting book, Life of the Beloved, is not an apologetic text trying to prove anything about the faith; it’s merely a reflection on what it means to be beloved by God, and how that identity motivates a different perspective on the meaning of life. In a very honest concluding chapter, Nouwen admits that the book didn’t actually connect to his friend, and that in fact it was more appreciated by Christians—which was disappointing for Nouwen (though it doesn’t surprise me at all). In working through that response, he writes,
I feel within myself a deep-rooted resistance to proving anything to anybody. I don’t want to say: “I will show you that you need God to live a full life.” I can only say: “For me, God is the one who calls me the Beloved, and I have a desire to express to others how I try to become more fully who I already am.” But beyond that I feel very poor and powerless. (117)
I can understand those feelings. I too am at a point where I’m tired of people trying desperately to prove this or that point to people “on the other side.” Instead, I prefer to relax, live the life I’m called to in an open, transparent way, and let God work in people’s hearts as he chooses.

I share Nouwen’s Christian faith, and so his words resonated with me and my experience on this journey. The early chapters in particular were helpful for me, when Nouwen encourages me to fight the self-rejection that comes so naturally and seems to be so true. Here are three passages that I especially needed to hear:
Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity and power can, indeed, present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. I am constantly surprised at how quickly I give in to this temptation. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone or abandoned, I find myself thinking: “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” Instead of taking a critical look at the circumstances or trying to understand my own and others’ limitations, I tend to blame myself—not just for what I did, but for who I am. My dark side says: “I am no good. . . . I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected and abandoned.” (27)

Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence. (28)

Beneath all my seemingly strong self-confidence there remained the question: “If all those who shower me with so much attention could see me and know me in my innermost self, would they still love me?” That agonizing question, rooted in my inner shadow, kept persecuting me and made me run away from the very place where that quiet voice calling me the Beloved could be heard. (29)
As with other books I’ve read by Nouwen, this one has a gentle, honest, encouraging tone that comforts and challenges me in valuable ways. Life of the Beloved reminds me that my value is from my identity as beloved by God, not from my talents or apparent usefulness in the world. It also affirms the beauty of deep friendship and long conversations about real topics—an art that seems to be diminishing in our world of quick, sound bite–drenched communication.
Profile Image for Emily.
53 reviews8 followers
February 6, 2017
Not in any way a hard read, but one I needed to take my time with, to let it settle in and make space for reflection and action.

It's seemed remarkably in tune with the relationships and topics on my heart right now, but I think perhaps it's a simple enough book and has enough wisdom that might always be true.

It was a nice moment to have it recommended as a source of comfort right now when I had just been reading it. I could go back to a specific passage and find it even more helpful in facing the death of one of the people I love most in the world.

Living with grief will never be easy, he doesn't claim it can, but I sent his words along to her because it gave such a beautiful way of seeing a life well lived and that's exactly what I wanted to express to her while I can.
53 reviews11 followers
November 24, 2021
This book became a horrible frustration for me to read. It started out well enough, but there were such gaps and glaring omissions and confusing logic that by the end I could barely read two pages in a row without having to put the book down. There are a few poignant points, which saves this book from getting one star, but overall this book doesn't say much that better books have said much better.

Henri Nouwen explains from the outset that this book is written to explain the spiritual life to secular people, specifically to fulfill the request of his secular Jewish friend to write a book that he and his friends "could hear." I was surprised and disappointed to discover that Nouwen answered this request in a narrow-minded, specific focus rather than trying to speak to the secular world at large. There are so many direct references that are specific to his friend's life and/or assume great familiarity with Jewish spiritual life and scriptures that I can't imagine this being that helpful to people who don't have a Judeo-Christian background that they are decently familiar with. Add to this lofty, flowery language about basically everything Nouwen talks about, and the book ends up a deeply-coded mess that is more suited for deeply spiritual believers.

The biggest and most egregious offense to me came because I was expecting this book to explain the CHRISTIAN life and reality to secular people. It wasn't an unreasonable expectation, as Nouwen speaks of having written other books that "were so explicitly Christian and so clearly based on a long life in the church" (20) that his friend couldn't find much support in them. But in his attempt to speak to his friend, Nouwen swings the pendulum too far the other way and completely omits any facet of the spiritual life that has to do with the Gospel. I kept waiting for him to talk about our sin, our need for a Savior, and how Jesus makes it possible for us to understand and fully accept this title of 'Beloved,' but none of those important words or concepts are even brushed upon in this book. Also absent is any kind of admonition or instruction on how or why the Christian life is lived differently as a result of this transforming love reality. The Christian life is completely devoid of its power without the truth of Christ, and so is this book. As a Christian, there were nuggets I could glean and, through the lens of my biblical and spiritual understanding, apply to my life, because through the Gospel I have experienced the acts of love that make Nouwen's words ring true. I would imagine someone without Judeo-Christian training or a lens to view the world or reality in a Christ-perspective would find this book filled with gushy, feel-good platitudes that had no weight of truth, like being gifted with a guard dog that had no teeth.

Another problem with this book complementary to the absence of the Gospel is that Nouwen describes the spiritual life practically absent from God until the last chapter (not counting the epilogue). God's role is reduced to little more than the proof of how good and wonderful we all are. There is no explanation of who he is, what he wants from/for us or why we should care, and almost nothing about having a relationship with us outside of him calling us the beloved. The only worship described or prescribed in this book is the worship of ourselves, a "You can be great if you realize you are loved because you are so special and great" kind of worship that seems to be the source of all Nouwen's insight and advice about the spiritual life (in this book). There seemed to little in here to differentiate it from the kind of "love yourself" self-help offered in grocery store magazine racks, only with even more flowery language and occasional references to Old Testament texts. There is some quotable wisdom and good advice, and it is a small and quick read (if you don't have to rage-quit every few pages like I did), but it wasn't quite worth my time. The biggest benefit I got from reading this book was a greater understanding of how the facets of Christian life that Nouwen omits are integral to living the life of the Beloved.

Edit: It's been years since I read this book but I think of it fairly often as a quintessential example of a terrible, unhelpful, not-quite-heretical-but-almost-as-bad book. The memories of rage-quitting this book multiple times is so strong in my mind that it is most of what I remember (besides it being devoid of the Gospel). But now, re-reading this review, I am baffled as to what possessed me to give this anything higher than one star? It's probably only worth half a star, but that's not within my power. But it IS within my power to rectify my egregious star inflation, so now the score is that much closer to expressing my true experience.
Profile Image for Mimi.
97 reviews3,809 followers
July 25, 2020
When we keep claiming the light, we will find ourselves becoming more and more radiant.

I was talking with a friend recently about the tumult of life, how it can frustrate and embitter. You can spiral into depression when you feel you have no control or power to affect your own life. It is critical to ground your life in something immutable or you will be jerked around by constant change. Henri Nouwen shares in this slim letter the root of his own resilience. In a world that shouts you are no good, you are ugly, you are worthless, you are despicable, you are nobody, where you even reject yourself, it can be hard to hear what Nouwen calls the most intimate truth of all human beings - that you are beloved by God.

I thought this book might be too simplistic but the more I read it, the more it's simple truths resonated with me. This book is for you if you're looking for someone to give voice to the struggle of feeling unwanted, even if you don't necessarily believe in God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit (note this is not a book that directly preaches the Gospel so don't expect that). It is also for you if you need a reminder that you are very much wanted and how to help others feel wanted too. It may not be for you if you can't push past the almost too self aware writing style. If you pick this up and find it full of Christian terms that are not relatable, I'd say that's the opportunity for us to have a fascinating conversation.

To kick start the conversation, below are some of the ideas in this book I found valuable. SPOILER ALERT!

Being beloved is one thing, but becoming the beloved is another matter altogether. It means that everything we think, say or do is rooted in feeling securely loved. That sounds ridiculously impossible to do all the time. Nouwen says the key to this is being taken/chosen, blessed, broken, and given.

Nouwen points out that when one person is chosen, another person often feels rejected. However when God chooses to love you, Instead of excluding others, it includes others. Instead of rejecting others as less valuable, it accepts others in their own uniqueness. Instead of making us feel that we are better, more precious or valuable than others, our awareness of being chosen opens our eyes to the chosenness of others. Nouwen is convinced the first step to healing is not a step away from pain, but a step towards it. But our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others. The real question is not "What can we offer each other?" but "Who can we be for each other?"

Eternal life then is the full revelation of what we have lived all along. Joy and suffering are aspects of the same phenomenon of being beloved, in the same way that extreme cold burns (quoting French philosopher Jacques Maritain). That is the secret to staying joyful, at peace and grounded no matter what you encounter in life or death.
Profile Image for Bailey Frederking.
114 reviews6 followers
January 12, 2021
A really quick read. Nouwen has always been one of my favorites. I love that this was a letter to a friend. It refreshed me, much like The Ragamuffin Gospel, in a way that I need right now.
Profile Image for Lori Galaske.
Author 1 book17 followers
April 20, 2011
I've only read one Nouwen book that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. After reading Life of the Beloved, I've still only read one Nouwen book that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed (and I can't remember the name of that one). This book was, however, different from most of his other books, but his humility and love for God and people still seeped through every page. I loved this book for its simplicity and down-to-earthness. No high and lofty theology here - just the basics. We're human: broken and imperfect, but God loves us and gives us each other to love.
Profile Image for Ramón S..
446 reviews7 followers
April 8, 2022
Really consoling if you are passing times of trouble and darkness .
Henri J.M. Newer is a man who speaks from the heart, is honest and sincere.
The whole book is like speaking with a good friend who understands your brokenness and the difficulties of living in a secular world
Profile Image for Santi Ruiz.
47 reviews29 followers
September 27, 2022
I should just give in and schedule time to reread this every year, shouldn’t I
Profile Image for Austin Frederking.
1 review1 follower
March 10, 2023
Henri Nouwen gets it. He gets what so many people miss: the importance of viewing yourself how God sees you… as His Beloved. He writes in a way that almost feels counter-cultural to the way most Christian books are written these days: without any Christian jargon. The book was only 155 pages and boy did I take my time, and I’m glad I did. After each page, I needed to take a breath and just sit in the simple truth that I am deeply loved, and not only that, but I am also deeply liked, by my Father; and as much as I hate to admit it, that is constantly a tough pill for me to swallow. I truly think that everyone needs to read this book. We live in a world that wants to convince us that we will never be good enough, not even to our own standards, but Nouwen wants to challenge us to stop and listen to the good things that God says about us, because we are so quick to forget.

Profile Image for Claire.
102 reviews24 followers
February 6, 2021
Ah where to begin? I’m not sure I can review this properly until I give it some time. Let me just say this feels like one of those “top 10” books of my life that I’ll return to over and over again and it will speak to me in different ways in different seasons. We’ll see what life holds :) but I know I’d recommend this book to anybody!
Profile Image for Leela.
51 reviews
October 9, 2021
Leant to me by one of the university chaplains. While certain insights make me interested to read more by Nouwen, this book didn't resonate with me. It just seemed aimed at a different audience - at one suffering from profound self-rejection and seeking approval; feelings which, I am thankful, do not apply to me. In relation to that comes the following quote, which particularly irked me, as it simply does not correpsond to my view of the world: "First of all, you have to keep unmasking the world about you for what it is: manipulative, controlling, power-hungry, and, in the long run, destructive." I acknowledge that the adjectives certainly apply in many contexts and circumstances. But I do not think they correspond to the world *unmasked* and *in the long run*. On the contrary.
Profile Image for F.C..
Author 15 books23 followers
February 22, 2023
Very timely read for me. Nouwen writes like you wish your pastor would talk to you. Great short read for those who need to be reminded they are loved.
Profile Image for Brennan.
187 reviews2 followers
April 25, 2022
I've heard this book extolled and savaged. I understand both sentiments, but I think the latter is largely unfounded. I haven't read much Nouwen, but his favorite themes--belovedness, withness, the gift of ourselves and our presence to and for others—are explicitly central to my dad's parenting and counseling values. In that sense, I've been on the receiving, experiential end of this sort of thinking and living.

And I think Nouwen does a good job sharing his vision of life as the beloved. He clearly prioritizes accessibility and simplicity, belying his scholarly and priestly learning. I've heard people take a couple critical angles on this book: one, that this book failed to speak to his friend, Fred, and two (often asserted as the reason for the first) that Nouwen's book is devoid of the Gospel, especially reference to Jesus and to our sin.

I think this is yet another instance of Christians' anxious tendency to lambaste writings, sermons, conversations, etc. that "fail" to present the "entire" Gospel, the whole picture. This can come from any corner. The progressive Christian excoriates a pastor for failing to incorporate the viewpoint of a marginalized group into her sermon; the conservative censures the same pastor for emphasizing Jesus' position as our spiritual brother to the apparent neglect of Jesus' lordship.

I really don't mean this as finger-pointing because I've done and still do this all the time. I complain that a pastor didn't give the sermon I thought he should have given. I read a journal article on current events and think, "Well why didn't they think about how this particular bit of the Christian life comes to bear on the issue?" And there are certainly times where something crucial is left out. There's a real need in the church for perceptive criticism, but I think critique has to pretty much always come out of an awareness of our own fickleness and deficiency.

That said, I don't believe there is a way for us to present the Gospel in its entirety because the good news is something we live in. If you really buy in to the historical reality of the Gospel--a real birth, a real crucifixion, a real resurrection, a real ascension, a real return--and not just the Gospel as virtue-forming story, then you can't really present it, but only bring others to an awareness of it. Christian or not, you're already in the Gospel. And our presentation of it is always deficient. There are serious, ongoing conversations about Scripture's witness to the Gospel. What does it mean for Scripture to be infallible, to be sufficient? It doesn't seem to mean that Scripture is comprehensive. We're missing a lot of information that would be nice to have, but the Lord seems to be okay with those gaps, and so am I.

This review has become more a vehicle for my musings on charitable interaction with the writings of other Christians than an account of Nouwen's book, but hopefully it's evident by now that I think the book is neither spiritual classic nor heresy. I think Nouwen was giving his best shot at bringing (and loving) Fred into an awareness of the Gospel that Fred was already living in. While we can say (and Nouwen basically already says this of himself) that the effort was a failure, in the sense that Fred did not "convert" or feel that Nouwen had given him something new, it certainly wasn't a waste. Of course Fred had already "heard" the Gospel, if by hear we meant that he knew the general narrative of events. I think it's plain silly to critique Nouwen for not writing a Gospel tract. Certainly, take issue with statements or assertions about the spiritual life that you think Nouwen gets wrong. I've got a few of those myself.

I believe Nouwen had the humility to admit that the Lord's intentions for his writing, his friendship with Fred, just might be out of his hands and belong to the Lord. And I'm real okay with that.
Profile Image for Lizzytish .
1,566 reviews
November 4, 2010
Written by a priest to a Jewish friend to explain the spiritual in everyday terms and thoughts that a secular person would understand.

I don't believe he accomplished his goal and his friend attests to that. However I did pick up a few thoughts that are worthy.

~When we persist in looking at the shadow side, we will eventually end up in the dark.
~Every time we decide to be grateful it will be easier to see new things to be grateful for.
~You have to choose where it is that you want to live.
~The blessed one always blesses.

~Our brokenness reveals something about who we are.
~First step to healing is not a step away from the pain but a step toward it.
~Broken glass shines brightly.
~We are chose, blessed and broken to be given.
~Life finds its fulfillment in giving.
~Just as bread needs to be broken in order to be given, so do our lives.

~More important than our talents are our gifts.
~The greatest gift I have to offer is my own joy of living, my own inner peace, my own silence and solitude, my own sense of well-being.
~The real question is not "What can we offer each other?" but "Who can we be for each other?"

Profile Image for Anna.
251 reviews4 followers
January 3, 2019
"From the moment I was helped to experience my interpersonal addiction as an expression of a need for total surrender to a loving God who would fulfill the deepest desires of my heart, I started to live my dependency in a radically new way. Instead of living it in shame and embarrassment, I was able to live it as an urgent invitation to claim God's unconditional love for myself, a love I can depend on without fear."

I think I may have found my new favorite book.
Profile Image for Foster Ellis.
36 reviews3 followers
October 7, 2022
“The unfathomable mystery of God is that God is a Lover who wants to be loved. The one who created us is waiting for a response to the love that gave us our being. God not only says: “You are my Beloved.“ God also asks: “Do you love me?” and offers us countless chances to say “Yes.” That is the spiritual life: the chance to say “Yes“ to our inner truth. The spiritual life, thus understood, radically changes everything. Being born and growing up, leaving home and finding a career, being praised and being rejected, walking and resting, praying and playing, becoming ill and being healed – yes living and dying – they all become expressions of that divine question: “Do you love me?“”
Profile Image for Matt.
29 reviews7 followers
May 17, 2021
This was a 4 until I got to the chapter “Given” after which it became a 5.

Then I read the last chapter, “Life of the Beloved” which alone is a 10. Yes, I know the rating only goes to 5.

I don’t think things will be the same after this.
Profile Image for Lily Gates.
11 reviews
March 20, 2022
The Christmas note written just inside the cover tells me that I received this book as a gift 7 years ago (poignant). I neglected to read it because dwelling on such topics seemed self-indulgent at the time. Turns out I did indeed need to hear that I am beloved 🥲. And the beautiful news is that you are beloved too! Hallelujah!
Profile Image for Dale.
30 reviews
June 19, 2012
Probably one of Henri's most important books. It is difficult for many people to understand themselves as "Beloved".
Profile Image for Jessie Moose.
4 reviews
February 20, 2023
“One of the greatest acts of faith is to believe that the few years we live on this earth are like a little seed planted in a very rich soil. For this seed to bear fruit, it must die. We often see or feel only the dying, but the harvest will be abundant even when we ourselves are not harvesters.”
“Our human suffering need not to be an obstacle to the joy and peace we so desire, but can, become, instead, the means to it.”
“The deaths of those whom we love and who love us open up the possibility of a new, more radical communion, a new intimacy, a new belonging to each other. If love is, indeed, stronger than death, then death has the potential to deepen and strengthen the bonds of love. It was only after Jesus had left his disciples that they were able to grasp what he truly meant to them. But isn’t that true for all who die in love?”
Profile Image for Abby.
1,425 reviews178 followers
November 20, 2019
“Every time you listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls you the Beloved, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply. It is like discovering a well in the desert. Once you have touched wet ground, you want to dig deeper.”

In characteristic Nouwen fashion, there is a great deal of wisdom here. I found the epilogue especially interesting, in which he acknowledges that the book failed for its intended audience (secular people) and it seemed that only spiritual people could derive value from it. I wonder if that continues to be true today, some decades after this little volume was published.
Profile Image for Halle Wassink.
127 reviews
December 14, 2022
Very short, and sweet. Written for a secular friend of his, Henri explains at the beginning the intention for this to speak to non-believers, very NYC-career focused individuals. The epilogue explains that his friend still struggled with the book and his Christian friends found more peace and application in reading it. This honesty boosted my score as reading it, the subject matter seemed very dreamlike and intense for someone unfamiliar with having a relationship with Jesus and seemed to miss the intended mark. Was going to give it 4/5 stars because it necessarily isn't my favorite style of writing but it really hit close to home for me. Great take aways and reminders for a Christian's identity as chosen and beloved.
Profile Image for Brooklyn Scheidt.
2 reviews1 follower
July 22, 2022
“The great struggle facing you is not to leave the world, to reject your ambitions and aspirations, or to despise money, prestige, or success, but to claim your spiritual truth and to live in the world as someone who doesn’t belong to it.” Really good stuff in this book!
Profile Image for Keegan Keelan.
59 reviews4 followers
September 11, 2022
I think that Henri Nouwen would be a good friend. Felt like he was writing to ~me~ at times.
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