"We are a fearful people. The more people I come to know and the more I come to know people, the more I am overwhelmed by the negative power of fear. It often seems that fear has invaded every part of our being to such a degree that we no longer know what a life without fear would feel like," writes Henri Nouwen in this collection of essays about three vital dimensions of the Christian life. We live in a house of fear and it often becomes a prison for us. Nouwen notes: "Fear is one of the most effective weapons in the hands of those who seek to control us." That certainly has been true since 9/11.

This book is based on the proposition that love is stronger than fear even though it often doesn't seem that way. There are chapters on the Gospel invitation to intimacy, which is an important ingredient in our relationship with God and others. A second ingredient of love is fecundity, which Nouwen connects with a fruitful life of change and growth. The third characteristic of "life in the house of love" is ecstasy, which is filled with joy. He says of this spiritual quality in closing:

"Joy is radically different from happiness, for it does not depend upon the 'ups' and 'downs' of our existence. It is the constant moving away from the static places of death toward the house of God, where the abundant life can be recognized and celebrated."