I've found much inspiration from Nouwen's spiritual writings and was hesitant to read his biography, because I didn't want to separate the singer from his songs. Michael Ford did just that; he exposed the humanness of a writer that I thought to be exclusively spiritual. Ford paints a sensitive and colorful portrait of Henri Nouwen. He neither condems his frenetic, unsettling character nor canonizes the personality of an intensely gifted spiritual writer.The biography is a well-written account of a life of conflict that evokes admiration, humour, sympathy, annoyance, and irritation. Ford performs a wonderful balancing act offsetting the faults and flecks with abundant virtues.
Nouwen's personal conflicts are revealed with such spiritual intensity that would have gained approval from The Wounded Prophet. Ford describes his dependence on others for love, recognition, even praise; his restlessness and inability to remain focused, except when writing; his tumultuous anxieties, which eventually led to severe depression; and the perpetual questioning of his sexuality. Ford has introduced me to someone whose company I would not enjoy; loud and animated, always distracted, unable to make a pot of coffee or launder his own shirts. But I also met a man whose life of unbounded love and compassion exceeded anything he wote.
Michael Ford has written a truly spiritual book about a truly spiritual person.
Ford's book about Henri was one of the most honest and open books about one of our great spritual leaders and author. I have read many of Henri's books and they have all been very life changing. They have a greater meaning now that I have a deeper understanding about the man who wrote them. As I sat down and began to read this book, I could not put it down. I read it in two evenings. I felt as if I knew Henri personally, and I even wept when I came across the chapter about his death and funeral. It was so hard to read even knowing that he had passed some time ago. I felt so sad because of Henri's struggle to know God's love intimatly and in its fullness. He truly knew how to show love but struggled with receiving it. I'm sure that this book may be too open about Henri's life and struggles, and some people may have a hard time with that. But I felt that by knowing Henri's weakness and struggles, that the messages he wrote about in his books became even more powerfull to me. Knowing that just like me, Henri is just a failable human being searching for the love, intimacy, and acceptance that we all are looking for. He knew that the path and the direction to receiveing God's fullness was through Jesus. His passion and love in following Christ at all cost to him personaly is something that we can all work on. Henri Nowen was truly given a great biography by Michael Ford who had the integrity to be honest and forthcoming in his book. Henri shall be a dear friend to me now because of this wonderful book and I hope all who have a chance to read this would make that wonderful investment in your own life. You will be moved and inspired as you read. This is a must read for all.