The opening line to Henri Nouwen’s book, Life of the Beloved is this: “Dear Friend, being the Beloved is the origin and the fulfillment of the Spirit.” This line starts a beautiful journey into Nouwen’s view of how God sees us as his Beloved. Nouwen articulates the desire of God for us, his children in this one word, Beloved. He describes this relationship of us to God through four other words: Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given. These words mark his actions as a priest during the liturgy but also his relationship as a Christian, whose life is bread for others, taken, blessed, broken and given. I have to say that this book with its beauty, love and wisdom changed my life and opened me up to God in a way that was deeper than I had ever risked before.
As children of God, we are all seeking to understand our role with God, Father, Jesus, and the Spirit. Nouwen’s view doesn’t see that relationship as static but places it in a giving and dynamic transaction. We are in relationship with God and with one another, and there are phases to it, movement in it, and changes as a result of it. Are any of us the same as we were when we first took communion, were baptized or converted? Being open to God has a way of moving us, deepening, teaching, challenging and refining us. And I am forever in God’s debt for the gifts I have been given, the wonderful ones and the challenging ones. I am not going to say more about the book which I believe is Nouwen’s finest work. But if you are looking for something to take on vacation, it is an easy and quick read that may just offer you some needed insight into your spirituality as God’s Beloved.