In this stirring collection of four essays, Henri J. M. Nouwen, who died in 1996, ponders the power of love, the path of peace, the challenge of waiting, and the meaning of death as aspects of a full-bodied spirituality. All of these strategies are incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth as a counterpoint to business as usual in the modern everyday world.

Trying to control things is one of the hallmarks of the raw ego. Nouwen amplifies this: "God looks at us and weeps because wherever we use power to give us a sense of ourselves, we separate ourselves from God and each other, and our lives become diabolic, in the literal meaning of that word: divisive." Trying to build ourselves up at the expense of others is bad enough, but even worse is using religion as a means of dividing and destroying. Nouwen calls that "the most invidious, divisive, and wounding power" and laments those who have been hurt by authority figures in the Christian community.

The Beatitudes reveal another way of being. The author admonishes us: "Keep your eyes on the prince of peace, the one who doesn't cling to his divine power." Jesus models compassion rather than "a first strike approach" that is so popular in the jargon of aggressive nations. He also demonstrates the patience that is nurtured by waiting: "To wait with openness and trust is an enormously radical attitude toward life."

Nouwen concludes this book with a question that emerged out of his own struggle to live in faith: "How can I live so that my death will be fruitful for others?" As always, this thoughtful writer challenges us to see afresh the bountiful resources available to those who decide to walk the Christian path.