Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) is considered to be one of the most important spiritual writers of the twentieth century. His life and writings are the focus of this devotional book by Robert Waldron, the author of Thomas Merton and eight other books. He observes that Nouwen's emphasis on psychology and inner work struck a chord with many readers. One reason was his remarkable ability to share his fears and flaws, depression, loneliness, and self-rejection. Nouwen confirmed what the fourteenth-century writer of The Cloud of Unknowing proclaimed: "God cannot be reached through the intellect and by reason but through love."

In this paperback, Waldron covers many of the major themes in this spiritual master's 40 books. Each of the 15 chapters contains a Focus Point, a Meditation, and Reflection Questions. Some of the topics covered are intimacy, monasticism, friendship, the still center, writing, death, and prayer.

Waldron does a fine job assessing three aspects of Nouwen's ability to draw a connection between art and spirituality. He comments on Rembrandt's painting of the Prodigal Son, Van Gogh's transformative art, and the beauty of icons. Waldron sets the intention for this 15-day journey with a prayer of blessing by Frederick Buechner:

Lord, catch me off guard today.
Surprise me with some moment of
beauty or pain.
So that at least for the moment
I may be startled into seeing that you
are here in all your splendor,
Always and everywhere,
Barely hidden,
Within this life I breathe.