One of the great inspirational/spiritual writers of all time was Henri Nouwen (1932-1996). Henri Nouwen was born in Holland. At an early age, he felt a call to the priesthood. He was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1957. He studied at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, KS. And he went on to teach at Notre Dame and then the Divinity Schools at Yale University and Harvard University. He died suddenly — and all too early — in 1996.
For several months in the 1970’s, Henri lived in a Trappist community at the Genesee Abbey in New York. In the early ’80’s, he lived in Peru among the desperately poor. After a time of contemplation, he left the seemingly bright world of academia — to go and work with mentally handicapped adults at L’Arche Daybreak in Toronto. It was at L’Arche that Henri felt his greatest fulfillment. He was a prolific writer and in 2003, a Christian Century survey rated his works number one among Catholic and mainline Christian clergy.
I was referred to Henri some years ago by my old friend David. On his recommendation, I have read most of Henri’s works. Wow! Spiritual. Inspirational. Moving. And somewhat melancholy – knowing that Henri died at such a young age. Return of the Prodigal Son is one of his most famous – and probably my favorite. I was given a copy by my friend and priest – Fr. Bob. Return is worth a second read. . . . which I’m planning. . . . . If you have to pick one of Henri’s books to read — this is the one.