Home Tonight

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-03-24
  • Publisher: Image
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Home Tonightfollows the path of Henri Nouwen's spiritual homecoming. More than three years prior to writing his great classic,The Return of the Prodigal Son,Nouwen suffered a personal breakdown followed by a time of healing solitude when he encountered Rembrandt's famous painting. Within his solitude he reflected on and identified with the parable's characters and experienced profound and inspiring life lessons. This captivating book was created from never-before-published materials that formed the basis of the small workshop inspired by Nouwen's intimate encounter with Rembrandt's painting. Readers are led to welcome their unique Belovedness through practices of "spiritual listening," journaling, and communing with God, thus connecting personally with the unique, unconditional love of the One who created them.Home Tonightis a practical guide for the inner journey home.

Author Biography

HENRI J. M. NOUWEN (1932-1996) was a Catholic priest who taught at several theological institutions and universities in the United States. He spent the final years of his life teaching and ministering to the mentally and physically disabled at L’Arche Daybreak community in Toronto, Canada.


from loneliness to l'arche
When I was at Harvard teaching about Jesus to hundreds of people from all over the world, I was miserable. It was then that I unconsciously touched the strong voice from my childhood that spoke to me about the simple way of Jesus. I began to wonder if my proclaiming the Gospel wasn't the best way of losing my very spirit and my connection with the Divine in my life. Harvard is a very ambitious institution, interested in the best and the brightest, in power, upward mobility, political influence, and economic success. Talking about Jesus there wasn't easy and I felt pressure to adopt the model of the university, to become more competitive and to "make it" as a professor in that environment. Separated by death from the loving relationship with my mother, I also felt very lonely, detached in prayer, unable to respond to those who wanted to become my friends, and without a community around me. I knew that I had to do something, but I felt desperate because I didn't know what to do. I began to ask Jesus in times of prayer for directions out of my pain.
One morning in my little apartment a knock came at the door. The little woman standing on the step smiled at me. "Hello," I said. "What are you doing here so early in the morning?"
"Well," she answered, "my name is Jan Risse."
"What can I do for you?"
"Well, I've come to bring you greetings from Jean Vanier."
Now the name Jean Vanier was just a name for me. I admired his communities, called L'Arche, that welcomed people with disabilities, and I had even mentioned Jean Vanier in one of my books. But I had never met him. So again I said to Jan Risse, "What can I do for you?"
She continued to smile and replied, "Well, I come to bring greetings from Jean Vanier."
"Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. So, what is it that you really come for?" I asked.
"Well, I come to bring greetings from Jean Vanier."
Conscious of my busy day ahead and hoping to bypass the small talk, I said, "Did you want me to give a lecture somewhere, or give a seminar, or a talk? What can I do for you?" She looked at me and suggested that I invite her to come in! I stood aside and said, "Sure, you can come in, but I have a class and then I have a meeting and I'm completely tied up until suppertime."
In my living room she turned and said, "OK, that's fine. You go off and I'll be fine right here until your return." Thus, she came in and I left for the better part of the day. Upon my return in the early evening I gazed at my room. The table was covered with a white linen cloth and beautifully set with candles, a bottle of wine, fine china, and flowers in the center. Astonished I exclaimed, "What's this?"
"Oh, I thought you and I could have dinner together," she casually replied.
"But where did you find all these beautiful things?" I asked.
"From your own cupboard!" she said, pointing to the buffet. "You must not look around your own house very often!" She had created this wonderful dinner for the two of us with candles and wine--from my own house!
I found her a room on campus and she stayed for three days. We had a few visits and she came to my classes and then she left. Her last words to me were "Remember, Jean Vanier sent his greetings."
I sat in my chair and said to myself, "Something is happening. This visit wasn't for nothing." But then nothing happened for many, many months until the phone rang one day and Jean Vanier was on the other end of the line. "Henri," he said, "I'm on a retreat here in Chicago and I was thinking of you. Is there any chance you could come and join us here?"
I hastened to reply, "Jean, I have already given a number of retreats this year."
Jean answered, "I'm

Excerpted from Home Tonight: Further Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son by Henri J. M. Nouwen, Henri Nouwen
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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