The Wounded Healer By Henri J.M. Nouwen

    Nouwen is such a thoughtful thinker and writer. Always appreciate his teachings and the way he communicates them. Good read for anyone who is ministering to people.

    “His [Jesus’s] appearance in our midst made it undeniably clear that changing the human heart and changing human society are not separate tasks, but are as interconnected as the two beams of the cross.” Henri J.M. Nouwen There are a lot of rich insights in this little book. At some point I want to really reflect on some of the meatier statements. Henri J.M. Nouwen This short book focuses on the paradox of ministry in a society of alienated individuals and the need to embrace our own frailty to make ourselves useful to others. I found it very useful in unwinding some myths I had accepted about ministry. Henri J.M. Nouwen This is up there with Reaching Out as one of Nouwen's books that remind the reader that he truly can do it all when it comes to Christian spirituality and faith. The book diagnosed current issues that humans face in their worldviews and identifies explicit remedies that a minister can partake in to heal these issues. This was a book on anthropology and Christianity's humble approach to meeting the hurts of the world. The dynamics of a minister and their own suffering plays a huge role in serving others. (Minister is in quotes because this is not explicit to the profession of a minister but a call to all Christians)

    For a long time I was pretty bored with Nouwen after reading his well-known, spiritual books. Books like this remind me that he has put in the work of studying the world and how to offer sentiments to help the situation. I think I will read those books with more weight to them now. Henri J.M. Nouwen Sometimes I really understood what the author going for, sometimes the book challenged my personal outlooks and beliefs and sometimes it was a really challenging read.

    I feel like this book really makes you think, even though its examples and disjointed nature make it a bit difficult to access.

    I enjoyed my time with it, sometimes.
    However, it might not be for everyone. Henri J.M. Nouwen

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    Free download The Wounded Healer

    A hope-filled and profoundly simple book that speaks directly to those who want to be of service in their church or community, but have found the traditional ways often threatening and ineffective.

    In this book, Henri Nouwen combines creative case studies of ministry with stories from diverse cultures and religious traditions in preparing a new model for ministry. Weaving keen cultural analysis with his psychological and religious insights, Nouwen has come up with a balanced and creative theology of service that begins with the realization of fundamental woundedness in human nature. Emphasizing that which is in humanity common to both minister and believer, this woundedness can serve as a source of strength and healing when counseling others.

    Nouwen proceeds to develop his approach to ministry with an analysis of sufferings—a suffering world, a suffering generation, a suffering person, and a suffering minister. It is his contention that ministers are called to recognize the sufferings of their time in their own hearts and make that recognition the starting point of their service. For Nouwen, ministers must be willing to go beyond their professional role and leave themselves open as fellow human beings with the same wounds and suffering—in the image of Christ. In other words, we heal from our own wounds.

    Filled with examples from everyday experience, The Wounded Healer is a thoughtful and insightful guide that will be welcomed by anyone engaged in the service of others. The Wounded Healer

    I came to Henri Nouwen on the recommendation of Fred Rogers, and I was not disappointed. This slim volume is somewhat dated (I was pleasantly surprised to see two King Crimson songs quoted in the second essay, for instance), but its central message is timeless: that the very experiences that wound us most deeply are also those from which we can draw the greatest strength. Nouwen does not romanticize suffering; it is not suffering itself that is beautiful, but rather what human beings can do with it. Nouwen uses the metaphor of the Grand Canyon: a scar on the landscape in one sense, and yet in another sense a place of almost unbearable beauty. I use the metaphor of a bog: nobody likes to get stuck in a bog. It's fetid and rank and sometimes it feels as though you'll never escape. But a bog is also the place where coal forms; and coal burns. Indeed--and this is Nouwen's central thesis--it is through facing our own hurts and fears that we can begin to help others face theirs - not to make the hurts and fears disappear, but to be fully present with them in the midst of their darkness and, with the coal of our own experience, to be for them a fire in the night. Henri J.M. Nouwen The Wounded Healer, first published in 1979, offers a contemplative path for ministry. While it's obvious that Nouwen has celibate Catholic priests in mind as his audience, I found much that applied to my life as a married Protestant laywoman. Part of this was helped by the Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust's choice to update the language a bit without changing the examples or gist of the text.

    Nouwen's ideas of the wounded healer, hospitality, and the contemplative critic were particularly meaningful to me. Nouwen truly grasps servant leadership, and the abject humility required for all Christians, particularly leaders. Having been through a few churches that were nearly cults of personality, I found his vision of Christian leadership deeply refreshing. Gone is the vision of fame and platform, returned is the vision of doing little things with great love.

    A major disconnect early in the text for me was his discussion of the rootless generations. Much of it simply doesn't apply to the currently young generations. He quotes a 1969 study by Jeffrey K. Hadden that speaks of this generation as almost void of notions for exercise of responsibility toward others. (33) That simply doesn't ring true today. If anything, the youth of today are overburdened by such responsibility. Social media has widened and increased peer pressure, creating a legalistic system of conformity to social and political opinion. This portion may become relevant again at some point, but for now, it made the book feel dated.

    Overall, I enjoyed reading The Wounded Healer and I'll return for Nouwen's insights again. This is the first book I've read by him and I look forward to more. Henri J.M. Nouwen I read this years and years ago. It changed my life. Henri J.M. Nouwen I set out to read Henri Nouwen's 100 page book thinking I would finish it in a few days. Instead, as always with Nouwen, it took me several weeks to read. Every time I picked it up I found myself flipping back through my previous reading, and every time I set it down I found myself spending days processing the few pages I just completed.

    Nouwen is, at heart, a philosopher and a psychologist and his writing is organized according to a logical formula. Some may struggle against that structure or with that jargon, but if you can move past it you will find beautiful truth within and an amazing understanding of our very current culture (despite the fact that the book was written almost 30 years ago).

    Nouwen seemed to anticipate the hopelessness that prevails in our present society, the growing sense among our youth that they cannot create a better future for their world, and to that hopeless he encourages us to move out of the old formula for ministry that has us thinking in terms of large-scale organization, getting people together in churches, schools and hospitals, and running the show as a circus director and and realize that pastoral conversation is not merely a skillful use of conversation techniques to manipulate people into the Kingdom of God, but a deep human encounter in which a man is willing to put his own faith and doubt, his own hope and despair, his own light and darkness at the disposal of others who want to find a way through their confusion and touch the solid core of life. The overarching theme of the book resides in the following passage:Jesus has given this story a new fullness by making his own broken body the way to health, to liberation and new life. Thus like Jesus, he who proclaims liberation is called not only to care for his own wounds and the wounds of others, but also to make his wounds into a major source of his healing power.

    As Nouwen writes, it is precisely in this hopeless culture that the wounded healer can make his life and his own suffering available to others, and making one's own wounds a source of healing, therefore, does not call for a sharing or superficial personal pains, but for a constant willingness to see one's one pain and suffering as rising from the depth of the human condition which all men share. Perhaps then we too, as Nouwen concludes, can understand that ...the imitation of Christ does not mean to live a life like Christ but to live your life as authentically as Christ lived his.... Henri J.M. Nouwen Nouwen’s opening chapter, a description of ‘Nuclear Man’, a prototype ‘modern man’, almost made me give up the book entirely. Nuclear Man—to me—sounded like a 1960/70/80’s person (the book was published in 1979) disillusioned with the Cold War and the Super Powers, living from day-to-day in constant fear of complete annihilation. I recognize Nouwen’s Nuclear Man who, ‘has lost naïve faith in the possibilities of technologies and is painfully aware that the same powers that enable man to create new life styles carry the potential for self-destruction.’

    He is just not who most Healers will be ministering to today. Rather, now we have an entirely different situation, a generation with strong faith in science and technology. For many, they have even become god(s).

    After this first chapter, however, I fell in step with the rest of Nouwen’s ideas/concepts concerning ‘the Wounded Healer’.

    Nouwen’s explanation of ‘articulation’ and its importance to being an effective healer was phenomenal. A minister who is able to do that is worth his/her weight in gold! I marked the heck out of those pages, with, “yes, Yes! YES!” thinking all the while of those in my life who were able to unlock doors for me because they could recognize the work of God in the event of my life, those I loved, or elsewhere. This is an invaluable skill.

    The critique of the elderly man in the hospital who was dying and the young minister who was trying to minister to him was also invaluable.

    The best part of the whole book was the legend from the Talmud concerning the Messiah which I wish I could recount. It is in two parts and each part reveals the great healing which can come from woundedness. Our wounds do not preclude us from helping others; they qualify us if we know how to let them.

    Much wisdom!



    July 12, 2018: Yesterday was the 3rd anniversary of my 1st Spiritual Director's death. When I visited her friend and companion, Pat, who cared for RM in the last years of her life (she had advanced MS) Pat asked me go through RM's books and take as many as I wanted. This book was one of the few which I did not already have and knew I would read immediately. Took it to Adoration last week and have greatly enjoyed it so far. Felt like I was sharing it with RM. Henri J.M. Nouwen