Reading Henri Nouwen is a grounding activity for me. His writing moves past the pomp and pretense I find in a lot of Christian literature.
I was reading Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life the other day, a book I’ve been slowly moving through for a few months. The three movements Nouwen describes are (1) Isolation to Solitude, (2) Hostility to Hospitality, and (3) Illusion to Prayer.
In Reaching Out, Nouwen describes Christian doctrine like this:
Doctrines are not alien formulations which we must adhere to but the documentations of the most profound human experiences which, transcending time and place, are handed over from generation to generation as a light in our darkness (Reaching Out, 89).
I think what I like most about this quote – and about Nouwen generally – is the unwillingness to dichotomize or bifurcate between the everyday practices of the spiritual life and the intellectualized Christian mind.
We are more than a mind, and doctrines are more than ideas.
Doctrines are records of the most profound human experiences, serving as a light in our darkness.