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Why I love Henri Nouwen

In this age of the constantly firing microscopic synaptic connection and interlocking neural networks, information cascades ceaselessly into our lives. We don’t lack information or access to it – what we lack is the means by which to sort it all and make sense of it. That’s the job of wisdom….
By Seth Barnes

In this age of the constantly firing microscopic synaptic
connection and interlocking neural networks, information cascades ceaselessly into our
lives.

We don’t lack information or access to it – what we lack is the means by which
to sort it all and make sense of it. That’s the job of wisdom. And that’s why I love Henri Nouwen.

He’s one of the wisest writers around. I get his morning devotional email and every
morning, it’s amazing what he can do with a paragraph or two.

Take this meditation on
friendship and giving for example:

The great paradox of life is
that those who lose their lives will gain them. This paradox becomes visible in
very ordinary situations. If we cling to our friends, we may lose them, but when
we are nonpossessive in our relationships, we will make many friends. When fame
is what we seek and desire, it often vanishes as soon as we acquire it, but
when we have no need to be known, we might be remembered long after our deaths.
When we want to be in the center, we easily end up on the margins, but when we
are free enough to be wherever we must be, we find ourselves often in the
center. Giving away our lives for others
is the greatest of all human arts. This will gain us our lives.

I often spend my day making decisions that impact many people’s lives – I need that kind of wisdom. How about you – where do you find wisdom? Proverbs enjoins us to seek it. The older I get, the more I look for it and
value it.

Even knowing which decisions
are the important ones requires wisdom. A
few of the decisions you’ll make in a given year will probably be more important in your life than all the others combined – decisions like who you’ll hang around. What job
you’ll do. What you’ll read and think
about.

We don’t really need more information so much as we need to a better job of managing it.
We need wisdom and we need people like Henri Nouwen in our lives. Nouwen authored more than 40 books chalk full of wisdom and he showed a simpler way to live, leaving his professorship at Yale to join and serve a community of handicapped adults.

To get his daily devotional email, sign up here. If you’re going to buy one of his books, let me recommend The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life, or select one from this list.

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