Thursday, March 5, 2009


The Way of the Heart – Part 2

Photo courtesy R. Pelisson -

I am currently reading The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen.
Check out my first post in this series, Desert Spirituality.


What does the word "solitude" bring to mind? After reading this chapter, I have to admit that my idea of solitude is selfish and shallow. It means my time to think my thoughts, a place for me to be refueled and gather new strength.

In contrast, Nouwen defines solitude as “the furnace of transformation.” The place where we ultimately lay down our thoughts, our will, our lives; where we come to know that we no longer live, but Christ lives in us; where we are changed into the image of Christ. Solitude is the place “where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us from the … compulsions of the world.”

In my life, this fight is waged every moment of every day, and I do not feel have the strength to persevere long term. Yet it is precisely my weakness that forces me to surrender entirely, unconditionally. Only then can I realize that He was there beside me the entire time. In true solitude, I come face to face with the grace and holiness of my savior.

How do I apply this idea of solitude to my life? As Nouwen says, “We are responsible for our own solitude.” I know I must persevere in the discipline of solitude in my life – a specific time and place to be with God and God alone. But I feel the bigger challenge for me is to abandon the selfishness of my solitude and allow myself to enter “the furnace of transformation,” to surrender to His purification in my life.

All quotes are from The Way of the Heart, chapter 1.

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