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Invites readers to reflect on the tension between the desire for solitude, and the demands of contemporary life. This work reminds, that it was in solitude that Jesus found the courage to follow God's will, and shows that fruitful love and service must spring from a living relationship with God. Invites readers to reflect on the tension between the desire for solitude, and the demands of contemporary life. This work reminds, that it was in solitude that Jesus found the courage to follow God's will, and shows that fruitful love and service must spring from a living relationship with God.


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Invites readers to reflect on the tension between the desire for solitude, and the demands of contemporary life. This work reminds, that it was in solitude that Jesus found the courage to follow God's will, and shows that fruitful love and service must spring from a living relationship with God. Invites readers to reflect on the tension between the desire for solitude, and the demands of contemporary life. This work reminds, that it was in solitude that Jesus found the courage to follow God's will, and shows that fruitful love and service must spring from a living relationship with God.

30 review for Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christy Lindsay

    I always find such comfort reading Henri Nouwen. It is like listening to a trusted, wise friend.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Billy Jepma

    “As long as we are occupied and preoccupied with our desire to do good but are not able to feel the crying need of those who suffer, our help remains hanging somewhere between our minds and our hands and does not descend into the heart where we can care. But in solitude, our heart can slowly take off its many protective devices, and can grow so wide and deep that nothing nothing human is strange to it.” There is more wisdom, power, and urgency in this 60-page booklet than most books of thrice “As long as we are occupied and preoccupied with our desire to do good but are not able to feel the crying need of those who suffer, our help remains hanging somewhere between our minds and our hands and does not descend into the heart where we can care. But in solitude, our heart can slowly take off its many protective devices, and can grow so wide and deep that nothing nothing human is strange to it.” There is more wisdom, power, and urgency in this 60-page booklet than most books of thrice that length could ever hope to capture. Nouwen’s meditations springboard off of scripture and carry the audience toward a gentle, yet firm, call to action. Not toward the action of doing more, but of caring more. Of not rejecting solitude and, indeed, loneliness, but reveling in the opportunities and power that can be found there. Nouwen’s insights are as timely and meaningful as they could ever be. This is absolutely essential reading, and I hope to revisit it often, for God knows I will need to be reminded of and pushed toward the wisdom contained in its pages.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    I have had an exceptional year when it comes to reading some really great books. This is another one to add to that list. Henry Nouwen is quickly becoming one of my favorite spiritual authors. He was a professor of Divinity at Yale, and yet somehow manages to say the most profound things using simple phrases that pull on the heart-strongs and make you go, "Yes, I've felt that way too!" This book talks about the importance of solitude, care, and expectation. He talks about how Jesus often withdre I have had an exceptional year when it comes to reading some really great books. This is another one to add to that list. Henry Nouwen is quickly becoming one of my favorite spiritual authors. He was a professor of Divinity at Yale, and yet somehow manages to say the most profound things using simple phrases that pull on the heart-strongs and make you go, "Yes, I've felt that way too!" This book talks about the importance of solitude, care, and expectation. He talks about how Jesus often withdrew to the lonely places and prayed, and how we as Christians can only maintain an active spirituality by finding out own lonley places where we meet with God and reconnect with our soul. He talks about the importance of care in life, and how people would rather not accept the kindess of charity if they know it is not bestowed with care. And expectation, that life is more than what we can see at hand. Truly moving and inspiring.

  4. 5 out of 5

    7jane

    This is such a slim, small book, yet it has depths of the deepest ocean within. First appering as sermons given at an university, its filled with sentences that strike you, in a good way. The main point is about seeking solitude daily to get closer to God and becoming a better person. The writing is in three chapters, each with a theme: solitude + action (solitude is needed for our soul not to get lost in pursuits of life); care (being there), not just cure; and on hopeful expectation for things This is such a slim, small book, yet it has depths of the deepest ocean within. First appering as sermons given at an university, its filled with sentences that strike you, in a good way. The main point is about seeking solitude daily to get closer to God and becoming a better person. The writing is in three chapters, each with a theme: solitude + action (solitude is needed for our soul not to get lost in pursuits of life); care (being there), not just cure; and on hopeful expectation for things beyond limits of life, of waiting with patience and strong joy. This book is easy to read again and again, and always find something in there. I can easily see this as a good support and guide on one's journey of life, and it leaves you with strength and peace. Nouwen can really write good stuff, and this is one of the greatest of them :)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brooks Lemmon

    Out of Solitude is a great little read. With only 63 pages it's a great book to read on your Sabbath. Lately I have been annoyed with authors who take too long to say what they want to say. In this short book Henri Nouwen gives three concise meditations on solitude and how it affects the Christian life. He doesn't use flowery language or give too many half-related stories. I really enjoyed the 2nd meditation on how we care and cure those around us. I am guilty of always wanting to cure people of Out of Solitude is a great little read. With only 63 pages it's a great book to read on your Sabbath. Lately I have been annoyed with authors who take too long to say what they want to say. In this short book Henri Nouwen gives three concise meditations on solitude and how it affects the Christian life. He doesn't use flowery language or give too many half-related stories. I really enjoyed the 2nd meditation on how we care and cure those around us. I am guilty of always wanting to cure people of what they are going through and this book reminded me of the importance of simple care within the community. I have heard a lot about Henri Nouwen and this book lives up to it! I recommend!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Overos

    “It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts.” Poignant, convicting, and relevant. This book is a reminder that our worlds and minds are too loud and we must withdraw like Christ did for renewal and alignment with the Father in order to care for our world more and anticipate His future coming more fully.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Essie-Marie W.

    simple, short, and sweet. full of heart and compassion.

  8. 5 out of 5

    CJ

    In 63 pages, Nouwen presents solitude as the basis of intimate community, mutual vulnerability, real care that witnesses: “joy and sadness are as close to each other as the splendid colored leaves of a New England fall to the soberness of the barren trees.” The story of the gnarled tree is brilliant: “Why is this tree so tall, so huge, so gnarled, so old and beautiful? Because it is useless. If it had been useful it would have been cut long ago and made into tables and chairs, but because it is u In 63 pages, Nouwen presents solitude as the basis of intimate community, mutual vulnerability, real care that witnesses: “joy and sadness are as close to each other as the splendid colored leaves of a New England fall to the soberness of the barren trees.” The story of the gnarled tree is brilliant: “Why is this tree so tall, so huge, so gnarled, so old and beautiful? Because it is useless. If it had been useful it would have been cut long ago and made into tables and chairs, but because it is useless it could grow so tall and so beautiful that you can sit in its shade and relax.”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This is one of my favorite books to give as a gift. Great comfort and direction about how to understand your work--and it's place in your life. He works through the need for and joys of solitude. Then he explains the richness that a heart shaped by solitude brings to the community. He always ends with community. If you've read Nouwen, you'll find that his style in Out of Solitude is different from other works. I don't know the reason for this. But he uses words a small child would understand--I This is one of my favorite books to give as a gift. Great comfort and direction about how to understand your work--and it's place in your life. He works through the need for and joys of solitude. Then he explains the richness that a heart shaped by solitude brings to the community. He always ends with community. If you've read Nouwen, you'll find that his style in Out of Solitude is different from other works. I don't know the reason for this. But he uses words a small child would understand--I think intentionally. It's very simply written, but no less powerful. I read this book for the first time when I joined a weekend silent retreat at a little Catholic camp along the beach in Oregon. This was on their shelf. The book used to be hard to find. I used to pick up a copy every time I made it out to Powell's Books. It's short--a great book to pack for a quiet day away.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Not finished yet, so can't say 5 stars, but it's on it's way! A couple favorite passages: (From Thomas Merton's forward) "The compulsion to cure is like action without a deep and silent center. We want to overcome problems and adversities and want to change at all costs. An alternative is to care for ourselves, each other, and our world. We wouldn't need change and cure if we were in a constant caring mode." From the first section "Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our lives are in dange Not finished yet, so can't say 5 stars, but it's on it's way! A couple favorite passages: (From Thomas Merton's forward) "The compulsion to cure is like action without a deep and silent center. We want to overcome problems and adversities and want to change at all costs. An alternative is to care for ourselves, each other, and our world. We wouldn't need change and cure if we were in a constant caring mode." From the first section "Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our lives are in danger. Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures." Both relate to each other more than I initially noticed (until typing this). Yay for more enlightenment!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    A short book, but thought-provoking. It's three meditations that were originally given as sermons. They are short and simple, but at the same time profound. I re-read two of them as soon as I had finished, so as to take them in better. The first one talks about the need for withdrawing to be alone with God; the second about the need for care - for empathy, and suffering alongside people - in a society that's more concerned with cure. The third is about living in expectation of better things, and A short book, but thought-provoking. It's three meditations that were originally given as sermons. They are short and simple, but at the same time profound. I re-read two of them as soon as I had finished, so as to take them in better. The first one talks about the need for withdrawing to be alone with God; the second about the need for care - for empathy, and suffering alongside people - in a society that's more concerned with cure. The third is about living in expectation of better things, and is the one I found least powerful. I read one meditation per day for three days, and will no doubt return to this book again in the future. Definitely recommended. Four and a half stars really.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robert Clay

    Nouwen packs a lot of simple, yet no less profound, wisdom into these three short meditations. Each is drawn from a Gospel lesson, with the interconnected focus of solitude, care, and expectation. An excerpt: 'This is the great conversion in our life: to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the way in which God molds our hearts and prepares us for His return.' Nouwen packs a lot of simple, yet no less profound, wisdom into these three short meditations. Each is drawn from a Gospel lesson, with the interconnected focus of solitude, care, and expectation. An excerpt: 'This is the great conversion in our life: to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the way in which God molds our hearts and prepares us for His return.'

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Nouwen reflects on the importance of solitude in achieving balance in our daily walk. Time spent alone with God allows us to become more aware of His purposes and equips us to let go of the world's. This short but weighty set of three messages require time to percolate as there is much to contemplate. Highly recommended. Nouwen reflects on the importance of solitude in achieving balance in our daily walk. Time spent alone with God allows us to become more aware of His purposes and equips us to let go of the world's. This short but weighty set of three messages require time to percolate as there is much to contemplate. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    Out of Solitude reads like a manual in advanced prayer - prompting more questions about one's self than it answers. The book contains three meditations on solitude, caring, and expectation. Each are scripturally-based and supported, giving the reader a firm foundation on which to assess their lives and discern the direction they wish to follow in light of these revelations. Out of Solitude reads like a manual in advanced prayer - prompting more questions about one's self than it answers. The book contains three meditations on solitude, caring, and expectation. Each are scripturally-based and supported, giving the reader a firm foundation on which to assess their lives and discern the direction they wish to follow in light of these revelations.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karen L.

    I found this short book very refreshing. I want to read more Henri Nouwen. His style is very personal. He writes humbly and honestly out of his own struggles. I like how each section opens with a gospel passage emphasizing Christ's quiet times of solitude with his Father. I found this short book very refreshing. I want to read more Henri Nouwen. His style is very personal. He writes humbly and honestly out of his own struggles. I like how each section opens with a gospel passage emphasizing Christ's quiet times of solitude with his Father.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kyna

    A wonderful tool for the comtemplative practice. I read it before bed and spend time in silence with God. Not a lot of words in this book, mostly a thought provoking ushering into moments of solitude.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    This was the first book I read by Henri Nouwen. Love this author. He is one of those teachers that teaches from the heart of one who has "been there". This was the first book I read by Henri Nouwen. Love this author. He is one of those teachers that teaches from the heart of one who has "been there".

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Like most Nouwen I've read, this was really rich. I wrote down a lot of quotes from a small book. Like most Nouwen I've read, this was really rich. I wrote down a lot of quotes from a small book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Porter Sprigg

    Jesus sought solitude. If we are to pursue his example, so should we. It will inform us and fill us with his love and security.

  20. 5 out of 5

    An Te

    These are some reflections from Father Nouwen on solitude, care and expectation. The need for solitude in this age is much needed. Where we are easily propelled by a need to do, we have, at times, lost our way from simply being. Nouwen says solitude is the cornerstone for meaningful action. We seek solitude, with God, and are thus better equipped to help an ailing world. He only expresses much more beautifully than I can. Contrary to the world's desire to cure (most) ills, simple and gracious care These are some reflections from Father Nouwen on solitude, care and expectation. The need for solitude in this age is much needed. Where we are easily propelled by a need to do, we have, at times, lost our way from simply being. Nouwen says solitude is the cornerstone for meaningful action. We seek solitude, with God, and are thus better equipped to help an ailing world. He only expresses much more beautifully than I can. Contrary to the world's desire to cure (most) ills, simple and gracious care is critical to helping the world. In fact, Nouwen goes as far as saying that providing a cure without the requisite care can be more dangerous than leaving a person 'untreated' as it were. God is concerned for all and so we must thus be concerned for others regardless of whether or not we feel 'ready' or 'equipped' to help. Simply standing and grieving with another, with no wilful action to change the situation, is enough. I'd say it is more than enough. And that to care, we must be emptied of ourselves. We must do it each time to make room for the 'other.' This is the essential nature of care. And this way it must happen each time. This has been insightful as my current research concerns the concept of 'quality of care.' What is it really? And why is it so difficult to grasp and distil? It is thus so as it a relationship and is 'carried away with the wind' upon critical inspection. Thirdly, the need to be expectant. What keeps caring people sane is that they have a hope that all shall be righted. I cry out for why we are not quite where we ought to be. But that it will be well, is what keeps me going. It will all be well. And Nouwen reflects that sadness and joy are necessarily conjoint. We are sad, but only for a time, but out joy is fulfilled in the future. I can think of an example. When you may have lost a child young in childbirth, your grief is appears unending and excruciating. Yet, your joy is perfected when you can confide in others and most of all console those who have been similar experiences. We are all called to blessings in this way. A further example is when a child leaves the nest for greener pastures but returns many years later for a glorious celebration and reunion. The examples are inexhaustible. Our joy is perfected in the patience (the root of which means 'to suffer and bear') in the trials and pains we now face. This does seem to the way for us. Patience pays it dividend, not that we are to know it as mere facts and 'head' knowledge. I am in awe of the simplicity yet sheer depth of his reflections. A man inspired and touched by God. His words show as much.

  21. 5 out of 5

    brian d rogers

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Wildly effective book for its size! Read this over to break periods at work, and realize how simple the thought of removing the"self" out of all relationships can be to help others heal.the idea that presents itself throughout this book is as people we need to focus on the care of others rather than attempting to cure others. Simple scriptural support throughout does not overweigh this book. In fact, I would have been likely to read a much larger Edition continuing the same contents easily.the s Wildly effective book for its size! Read this over to break periods at work, and realize how simple the thought of removing the"self" out of all relationships can be to help others heal.the idea that presents itself throughout this book is as people we need to focus on the care of others rather than attempting to cure others. Simple scriptural support throughout does not overweigh this book. In fact, I would have been likely to read a much larger Edition continuing the same contents easily.the second most impactful thought in the book I believe is that you don't have to have any special qualifications to be of assistance to other people, it's a trap of the world in particular in America as it stands. Everyone thinks they need to be a specialist of some kind this book helps you to understand lending a helping hand does not require you to have a piece of paper saying you're qualified to do it! I just ask that you allow that thought do you think in your head the next time maybe reaching out to you for help. This book and Foods in the rather simple summary of some pretty intense thoughts you have during the short Journey from cover to cover.the author basically summarizes and says that as long as we are thinking we're not qualified, or looking for their really dare to be great opportunity we may miss the simple need of the person sitting right next to us every day. As I said a small book but a very huge impact. Facebook wraps up with a nice summary of joy and expectation, in the patients that is required to see the slow development of both it won't happen overnight in this small 63-page Journey help me to remember that! Strongly recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marissa Bushlack

    A brief but profound work by Nouwen. Filled with sweetness and grace, his call to follow Jesus into the lonely place is prophetic for a people who believe that we are what we achieve. We are desperately in need of that lonely place, the place where our Savior himself enters into intimacy with the Father. "In solitude, we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us. In solitude we can l A brief but profound work by Nouwen. Filled with sweetness and grace, his call to follow Jesus into the lonely place is prophetic for a people who believe that we are what we achieve. We are desperately in need of that lonely place, the place where our Savior himself enters into intimacy with the Father. "In solitude, we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us. In solitude we can listen to the voice of him who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone. It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts. In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared. It is there we recognize that the healing words we speak are not just our own, but are given to us; that the love we can express is part of a greater love; and that the new life we bring forth is not a property to cling to, but a gift to be received." (p. 25-26)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Inspiring and helpful, especially the first section on where we find our worth. "...the erroneous conclusion that life is one large scoreboard... and before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers. That means we are not only in the world, but also of the world. Then we become what the world makes us. We are intelligent because someone gives us a high grade. We are helpful because someone says thanks. We are likable because someone likes us, etc"" I liked this bit o Inspiring and helpful, especially the first section on where we find our worth. "...the erroneous conclusion that life is one large scoreboard... and before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers. That means we are not only in the world, but also of the world. Then we become what the world makes us. We are intelligent because someone gives us a high grade. We are helpful because someone says thanks. We are likable because someone likes us, etc"" I liked this bit on caring: "Cure without Care makes us preoccupied with quick changes, impatient and unwilling to share each other's burden. And so cure can often become offending instead of liberating. It is therefore not so strange that cure is not seldom refused by people when they did not sense a real care..." "...but also oppressed minorities have resisted support, and suffering nations have declined medicine and food when they realized that it was better to suffer than to lose self-respect by accepting a gift out of a non-caring hand.""

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rob McMonigal

    A set of three short meditations based on sermons given by the author. As I continue to explore a renewed relationship with Christ, I look for ways to learn about the experiences and advice of others. However, I admit that I have an angle to my own faith, and that's that we are here to ensure we help each other actively. So the idea of "care not cure" which is a central theme, clashed for me. It reminded me too much of "thoughts and prayers" when action could actually limit gun violence. There's A set of three short meditations based on sermons given by the author. As I continue to explore a renewed relationship with Christ, I look for ways to learn about the experiences and advice of others. However, I admit that I have an angle to my own faith, and that's that we are here to ensure we help each other actively. So the idea of "care not cure" which is a central theme, clashed for me. It reminded me too much of "thoughts and prayers" when action could actually limit gun violence. There's certainly a time and place for caring--but for me, it's empty if there's no attempt to cure the issue. Still, some points are good, like how we can get too caught up in scoring points and end up with esteem issues, so I can't say I wasn't engaged in the book. But given 2.5 stars isn't possible, this one just was a miss for me. It might work better for you.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jodie Pine

    A quick read, but powerful and challenging. Three meditations: Out of Solitude, With Care, and In Expectation. "When you are able to create a lonely place in the middle of your actions and concerns, your successes and failures slowly can lose some of their power over you. For then your love for this world can merge with a compassionate understanding of its illusions." "Cure without care makes us into rulers, controllers, manipulators, and prevents a real community from taking shape. Cure without c A quick read, but powerful and challenging. Three meditations: Out of Solitude, With Care, and In Expectation. "When you are able to create a lonely place in the middle of your actions and concerns, your successes and failures slowly can lose some of their power over you. For then your love for this world can merge with a compassionate understanding of its illusions." "Cure without care makes us into rulers, controllers, manipulators, and prevents a real community from taking shape. Cure without care makes us preoccupied with quick changes, impatient, and unwilling to share each other's burden." "That is the great conversion in our life: to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the ways in which God molds our hearts and prepares us for his return."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Demetrius Alexander

    Impactful I loved this book. Especially the final section on expectation. I will share my favorite quote from the book: "Is God present or is he absent? Maybe we can say now that in the center of our sadness for his absence we can find the first signs of his presence. And that, in the middle of our longings, we discover the footprints of the one who has created them. It is in the faithful waiting for the loved one that we know how much he has filled our lives already. Just as the love of a mother Impactful I loved this book. Especially the final section on expectation. I will share my favorite quote from the book: "Is God present or is he absent? Maybe we can say now that in the center of our sadness for his absence we can find the first signs of his presence. And that, in the middle of our longings, we discover the footprints of the one who has created them. It is in the faithful waiting for the loved one that we know how much he has filled our lives already. Just as the love of a mother for her son can grow while she is waiting for his return, and just as lovers can rediscover each other during long periods of absence, so also our intimate relationship with God can become deeper and more mature while we wait patiently in expectation for his return." Henri Nouwen - "Out of Solitude"

  27. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This book has become my go-to when I need to calm my mind at work. I'm in a helping profession, and it can be overwhelming. When it is, I take a break to read one meditation, and no matter how many times I've read them through before I find some new solace. Spiritual writings are hard to review, as spirituality and what speaks to someone's inner life can be so varied. However, I feel confident saying that even if Henri Nouwen isn't your cup of tea, you will appreciate the way he writes about Jes This book has become my go-to when I need to calm my mind at work. I'm in a helping profession, and it can be overwhelming. When it is, I take a break to read one meditation, and no matter how many times I've read them through before I find some new solace. Spiritual writings are hard to review, as spirituality and what speaks to someone's inner life can be so varied. However, I feel confident saying that even if Henri Nouwen isn't your cup of tea, you will appreciate the way he writes about Jesus in such a human way.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leo Rander

    This is already the second book by Nouwen that I have read and loved! He writes in simple terms and is very practical and relatable. I strongly recommend it. I will leave a quote below: “That is the great conversion in our life: to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the way in which God molds our hearts and prepares us for his return.” p. 56

  29. 5 out of 5

    Humaira C

    Sometimes you read something and it feels like someone is taking the feelings from your very soul and putting it on paper. This is one of those reads. A lot of great wisdom in here. I’ll be buying multiple copies to give as gifts. Also, even though it is a Christian book, anyone can find solace in it. Read it!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alex Parrish

    Really short but really worth it. A brief stream of consciousness which demonstrates how time in a "lonely place" brings us back to a place where we genuinely care for others and experience fuller life ourselves. Really short but really worth it. A brief stream of consciousness which demonstrates how time in a "lonely place" brings us back to a place where we genuinely care for others and experience fuller life ourselves.

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