Book Review: Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life


Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Published 2016 by The Henry Nouwen Legacy Trust


Seven million copies of his books in print! This collection of over 100 unpublished letters from the bestselling author of such spiritual classics as The Return of the Prodigal Son and The Wounded Healer offers deep spiritual insight into human experience, intimacy, brokenness, and mercy.

Over the course of his life, Henri Nouwen wrote thousands of letters to friends, acquaintances, parishioners, students, and readers of his work all around the world. He corresponded in English, Dutch, German, French, and Spanish, and took great care to store and archive the letters decade after decade. He believed that a thoughtful letter written in love could truly change someone’s life. Many people looked to Nouwen as a long distance spiritual advisor.

Love, Henri consists of over a hundred letters that stretch from the earliest years of Henri’s career up through his last 10 years at L’Arche Daybreak. Rich in spiritual insights the letters highlight a number themes that emerged in both Henri’s work over the years, including vocation, solitude, prayer, suffering, and perseverance in difficult times. These deeply spiritual letters, sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, ultimately demonstrate the rich value of communicating with God through others.

My Review:

When I was earning my Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling from an Ohio seminary, Henri Nouwen was an author regularly recommended to students by professors, other students, and clinical and academic advisors.

The Wounded Healer was by far the most recommended book and I do believe my entire cohort read it before we began our internships. Henri Nouwen had such a gift. He was intelligent, well read, well known, gifted, wonderful with people, and a model of selfless love, but he taught us that we did not have to be perfect people in order to help others and to help them begin the healing process. In fact, our wounds could serve to make us better helpers.

In his books, Henri was always so transparent and shared without hesitation that which made him a flawed and wounded healer. I remember this book bringing tears to my eyes, for certainly I was the most flawed student in the bunch and I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb. Henri helped me through my self doubt, helped me to see that my wounds would make me a better healer. I found great peace in that.

Love, Henri was such a beautiful glimpse into his personal life and the way he loved others in an authentic way that was not full of posturing or self-adulation. Reading his letters made me realize that Henri was human. I admit I put him on a bit of a pedestal while in school, but he was so…real in his responses to those who wrote  him. They were not cookie cutter responses and he did not hesitate to admit when he did not have the answers. I admired that very much and again the importance of transparency became all the more apparent to me during those moments.

I highly recommend this books to fans of Henri Nouwen, seminary students, pastors…anyone whose faith is important to them. I would also highly recommend Love, Henri to anyone who would like to read letters filled with love, kindness, acceptance, and authenticity.

Happy reading to you. I do hope you enjoy reading Henri’s letters and I hope they touch your heart.

🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩 5/5 doughnuts

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life

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