Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932 - 1996) first visited the Trappist Monastery in the Genesee Valley of upstate New York in 1974; he wrote about that seven-months stay in The Genesee Diary. This devotional work covers six months spent there in 1979. Nouwen feels right at home: "The familiarity with people, places and events allowed me to dispense with all the preliminaries and to direct all my attention to the purpose of my stay: to be with God in prayer. The rhythmic sameness of the monastic life revealed to me the sameness of the loving Lord who had been waiting for me to come back and spend more time with him and him alone."

The prayers in this volume reveal Nouwen's struggles to keep his mind focused on adoration of God: "So often I find myself engaged in reciting a litany of self-complaints or my attention wanders to people and events that inhabit my restless mind." That certainly sounds familiar, doesn't it? The author also repeatedly squares off against his fears. He wonders why it is so difficult for him to acknowledge that God's love is able to banish all our fears.

A large portion of these prayers take place during Lent as Nouwen cries out for God's mercy and attempts to stay attuned to the passion of Jesus. At one point, the author writes: "Prayer is the divine life in us, a life of which we are only dimly aware and which transcends the capabilities of all our senses." Loyal readers of Nouwen will be nourished by his insights into the divine life within us and the struggles believers have as they try to be faithful in their communion with God.