Surrendering to God's love (Nouwen's Prodigal Son), post 2

More on Nouwen's Prodigal Son and the journey toward God...

Nouwen made a well-known, life-changing transition from teaching at Harvard to caring for souls at the Daybreak L'Arche community for the mentally disabled. During that same transitional period, he had a deep encounter with Rembrandt's painting of the Prodigal Son. The painting and the parable spoke deeply to Nouwen, and they became touchstones for his personal journey with God. He encountered many trials and difficulties during those years, but the end result was that he grew into an immersion in God's love that he had only glimpsed before. Maybe it would be like visiting a lush paradise and describing it to others, and then later enduring an extremely difficult trek to make your home there. Nouwen wrote Prodigal Son after that land became his primary residence. He was still prone to wander, but it had been settled for him. His heart had found its home with God.

As someone who has hungered for many years to live in close union with God, I deeply appreciate hearing from those who have found their way to that place. What is it like? What does it take to get there? Nouwen is such a voice. He describes his own imperfect union with God. And in the Prodigal Son, he shares some of what it took for him to get there. Nouwen wrote Prodigal Son in retrospect. The compassionate and somewhat mystical theology described in the book gestated in Nouwen for a long time. The message matured as he matured. That's one of the elements that makes the book so special.

To be continued...

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