Monday, November 12, 2012

Henry Nouwen on Writing

I'm closing in on the last chapter of what may be my most favorite book to date. I've been on Philip Yancey's "Soul Survivor" for a month now and it has been an unbelievable experience reading his work. As is always the case with me and reading great books, I'm awash with a recognizable sadness that the "journey" of reading the book is about to end.

This entry will be one of many (many many) entries I will writing about the great people, ideas, and fresh paradigms this book has gifted me with.This nugget on writing comes much later in the book, in the last chapter actually. But it resonated so much with me I cannot wait to not write about it.

This is Philip Yancey on the last chapter of the book talking about Henry Nouwen:

I read many books over the years before meeting him in person. Nouwen has been accused of having had no unpublished thought, and indeed some of his thoughts have been published more than once in different forms, and sometimes in booklets dressed up to look like books. Nevertheless, he served me as a wise older brother, a pioneer who nimbly explored trails of thought I found myself eager to follow.

"Somehow I believed that writing was one way to let something of lasting value emerge from my little, quickly passing life," Nouwen once wrote, a sentiment that expresses what every writer feels. Writing was an act of discovery for his as well as for his readers.

This is a direct quote from "Soul Survivor," which also directly quotes from Nouwen's "Reflections on Theological Education":

Most students think that writing means writing down ideas, insights, visions. They feel that they must first have something to say before they can put it down on paper. For them writing is little more than recording  a pre-existent thought. But with this approach true writing is impossible. Writing is a process in which we discover what lives in us. The writing itself reveals what is alive... The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely what it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know.

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