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The Genesee Diary

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  828 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
During his seven-month stay in a Trappist monastery, Henri Nouwen had a unique opportunity to explore crucial issues of the spiritual life and discover "a quiet stream underneath the fluctuating affirmations and rejections of my little world." Nouwen participated fully in the daily life of the Abbey of the Genesee in upstate New York -- in work and in prayer. From the earl ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 20th 1981 by Image (first published 1976)
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Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 r ...more
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
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.
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this book many years ago and rereading it now, i realise it still speaks to me.
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspiring and is very human in its discovery of himself. Thoroughly enjoyable.
diane nienhuis
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A constant reminder to live a Simple Life.
Samantha Adkins
“People expect too much from speaking, too little from silence. . .” p. 134

I first heard of Henry Nouwen via quotations in our church in Alberta. His thoughts and skill with
words drew me to read more.

I took my time with this book, as I think is fitting. It takes time to let these lessons and ideas find purchase in your heart and mind. I highly recommend it for spiritual guidance. It would be ideal reading for the Lenten season.

Here are a few quotations which especially spoke to me. (I realize
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion-books
Henri Nouwen’s book The Genesee Diary records the daily struggles he experienced while staying at a Trappist Monastery for seven months. The abbot, John Eudes, and other monks allowed Nouwen to spend his sabbatical from teaching living as a Trappist. Nouwen is able to fully experience monastic life, washing raisins, baking bread, moving rocks, and of course prayer. When I was a child I told my mother that I wanted to become a Nun. She laughed—we weren’t even Catholic. I think I watched Whoopi G ...more
Feb 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
This book was recommended to me by my friend Fr. Kremmell. Written over a seven month period in 1974, The Genesee Diary tells about the experiences of Jesuit priest Henri Nouwen as he lives as a Trappist monk in a monastery in New York. Nouwen was a teacher and a highly educated, tremendously busy person when he entered into the quiet life of the monks. He worked during the day helping to pull stones out of a nearby river to build a church, and in a large, industrial bakery making bread that the ...more
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book at the suggestion of my spiritual director while I was on a thirty day retreat at a Trappist abbey to see if I was called to the life of a monk. To be frank, a visit to decide whether or not to stay at an abbey for life (much less deciding to do so) is a far cry from a temporary visit, even one lasting as long as Nouwen’s seven months. The psychological pressure is much different, yet I enjoyed this book immensely.
Nouwen’s initial Merton like musing was at first off putting to
Jordan Varey
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second time I have read this book (it is that good). In the last chapter Nouwen shares a reflection on teaching spirituality from the inside. He uses the image of stained glass, saying that to really appreciate it a student must be lead inside to see the sun shining through the windows. I think Nouwen accomplishes this task here. The reader is offered a raw inside look at 7 intensely spiritual months in Nouwens life. You are left with the impression that you experienced some of his p ...more
I attended school at SUNY Geneseo, so this book naturally attracted me. I never visited the Trappist Monastery while there, but heard much about it. Nouwen is a Dutch priest, living and working in New Haven, Ct, when he decides to spend six months at the monastery. This is his daily journal of his spiritual journey while there. It is interesting to read of his various encounters with the monks of the monastery, the work he has to preform, and spiritual growth while there.

There is much to take a
I picked this book up because it takes place at a beautiful monastery pretty close to where I live- about 40 minutes. Ironically, I found this book on a visit to the Goodwill on the way to visit the monastery for the first time (it's been on my list of day trips forever)- I thought it was a sign I should read the book!

I found it interesting and somewhat comforting that even a Catholic priest struggles with the same issues as we all do- busy lives that tend to draw our attention and focus away fr
Marc Washburne
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Henri Nouwen's writings are now classics on the struggle to achieve balance in one's life. How do we learn to live in the hectic everyday world of modern life and find that inner voice calling us to Love God and one another? Nouwen will be read and admired for a long, long time.

This book however is different. He describes his 8 month long residency in a Monastery. For most people a short stay in a Monastery is not possible. Nouwen was granted his request. He went to re-center his life, to find a
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ein sehr spannendes Tagebuch Henry Nouwens, in dem er sehr ehrlich die Kämpfe beschreibt, die er ausgefochten hat, als er für sieben Monate in einem Trappistenkloster war.
Gerade wenn man selbst Zeiten der Stille erlebt kommen einem viele dieser Kämpfe sehr bekannt vor und man kann einiges davon nachfühlen und mit Nouwen gemeinsam nach Auswegen suchen.
Immer wieder eine sehr inspirierende und aufbauende Lektüre.
Walt Walkowski
In some ways, this was a difficult read. I have never read a diary before, and I found Nouwen to be so introspective and personal that, at times, I was embarrassed reading his thoughts. I think he says some things that allow us as readers to recognize spiritual inconsistencies in ourselves. At the same time, there were some things I could have done without. All in all a good book, but I don't think I'll be sitting down to a diary for a while...
Jun 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always love reading Nouwen-- this is not as focused as other books of course, but that's the nature of a journal. It's a wandering, processing text, with some entries that read almost like early journals of mine: "Nothing special happened today." Still, there are snippets here that will stick with me a long time. I so appreciate Nouwen's open questioning and his willingness to share internal foibles.
Jul 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
I found this book on the shelf while on retreat and got excited because Nouwen is staying at a monastery outside of Rochester (that I didn't even know existed!). It's his story of discovering the need for silence and the way that God asks him daily to empty himself of Humanity to make room for Divinity. Nouwen has a beautiful, humble writing style that is easy to identify with and this book is easy to read due to its diary-like format.
This is a fantastic book, and a great read if you are familiar with Nouwen's work otherwise. This is his edited diary from the year he spent living in near silence with a group of Trappist monks in upstate New York. His insights as he wrestles with what he discovers about his own nature when he adjusts to his new life are priceless, and the types of challenges we all face, but perhaps do not always take the time to properly consider.
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes when you read a book especially a journal or a personal spiritual testimony it clicks with you because it says exactly what you feel and all the better if questions are posed and answers follow. For me that happened with this book. I read Merton's journals over a dozen years and I related with him on many plains but with Merton you have to dig a lot or at least I did. Here it was just spoon fed. I don't generally reread books but this one will get that treatment.
Brett's Books
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
A Catholic priest who spent seven months in trappist monastery. The portions of the book that describe the monastery and monastic life were fascinating. However, this is a deeply personal book and in many ways a diary, a virtual window into the author's soul, its both painful and faith affirming.
Jason Townsend
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An enlightening reflection on life in a Trappist monestary by a noted priest who spent seven months there. Nouwen is very candid in his observations of himself and others to the point of admitting that the. retreat "didn't work" for him. Yet he does admit that while he lived it the monastic life did bring him closer to God.
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book! Henri Nouwen was such a respected man of God! He has written so MANY books for us to read and reflect upon. But in this book I met the man. He was so honest and authentic even about his faults! I felt I could relate to him and it has helped me be more gracious to myself! I have even read it again!
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is Henri Nouwen's diary when he spent 7 months in a Trappist Monastery following all the rules, prayer schedule, work etc that the monks followed. He was very honest with both the positive and sometime negative aspects of this journey. but it also shows his personal growth and his constant struggle in his spirituality which we can identify with.
Davide Rizzo
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Piacevole lettura di un diario in cui l'autore condivide la propria personale esperienza e ricerca di senso. Con alcuni passaggi simpatici. Sapreste dire cosa c'entra lo stock di cartoleria con un monastero trappista? In breve, uno sguardo americano e pragmatico che sa ricondurre "piedi in terra" un'esperienza "mistica".
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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 about Henri J.M. Nouwen...

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“The measure of your solitude is the measure of your capacity for communion.” 3 likes
“God should be sought, but we cannot find God. We can only be found by him.” 1 likes
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