Today I’m glad to be finally reviewing a little book that was a very welcome piece of spiritual nourishment for me recently. While I’d heard of him before, perhaps most notably in Wesley Hill’s superb Washed and Waiting, I’d never really read anything by the reasonably well known author, lecturer, and pastor, Henri Nouwen. Turn my Mourning into Dancing is a collection and edition of a range of reflections and writings by the author on finding hope, meaning and joy in hard times. It is a beautifully written book, which invites the reader to consider where God might be, and what God might be up to, in difficult parts of life.
Many readers of this blog will know that I have suffered from depression in the past, and I have many friends and family who have suffered other, often worse, darknesses. This book could be a helpful candle in that darkness. Nouwen grounds his discussion of the hard things in a wise place;
“by inviting God into our difficulties we ground life – even in its sad moments – in joy and hope. When we stop grasping our lives we can finally be given more than we could ever grab for our selves. And we learn the way to a deeper love for others” p. xv
I think that is profound, and recognises the reality of the Christian God, the God who enters into and experiences our humanity and suffering. His idea of surrender is something I find very powerful, particularly as it is surrender for/to service. This love echoes the way of the Kingdom of God – something I’m likely to blog on shortly. Nouwen directly references this as he notes that;
“at the centre of our Christian faith we perceive a God who took on himself the burden of the entire world. Suffering invites us to place our hurts in larger hands. In Christ we see God suffering – for us. And calling us to share in God’s suffering love for a hurting world” p. 11
I could go on sharing quotes and nuggets from this slim and powerful book. It deeply encouraged and nourished me, even though I did not always entirely agree with some of the ‘theology’ in this book. This was a simple review to write – I just wanted to give you, my readers, a sample of what Nouwen writes, and encourage you to read this little book. Turn my Mourning into Dancing was the first book by Nouwen that I read, and revisiting again has encouraged me to read more widely into his corpus, which is a rare accolade for a book!