Welcome to the website of
Author & Spiritual Guide
Dedicated to the memory of Henri J. M. Nouwen
Website designed and managed by James Proctor. All material is copyrighted.
Permission to quote should be requested and acknowledged. Thank you.
A warm welcome!
This evolving website presents a virtual hermitage or poustinia to honour the vision of Henri J. M. Nouwen. It begins at the hermitage of Thomas Merton who influenced Henri more than any other spiritual theologian.
Both contemplatives in their own unique ways, Nouwen and Merton were no strangers to inner struggle, uncertainty and self-doubt, so this hermitage beckons those who are wrestling with personal issues of any kind or may feel alienated from - or ambivalent about - institutional religion. It is a meeting place for those who battle with the demons, the hurts within.
Henri Nouwen believed that it was possible to transfigure the darkest places of our soul. He writes: 'We minister best when we have recognized our own needs and have attended to our own wounds. It is very important to recognize how our needs and our wounds can be a great source of suffering and call us to an ever fuller surrender to God's first love, the love that can fulfil all our needs and heal all our wounds.'
Before all his speeches, Henri encouraged the audience or congregation to sing chants from the ecumenical community of Taize in Burgundy, France. Its prophetic founder, Brother Roger, a wounded healer murdered during evening prayer is also acclaimed on this site. I happened to interview Father Henri and Brother Roger within weeks of each other - my first broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 - and they have been pivotal to my spiritual life ever since. I was also privileged to write a biography of the first official victim of 9.11, Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan fire chaplain who faced his inner demons so he could care more compassionately for people on the streets of New York City.
Michael Ford (right) with the brothers at Thomas Merton's hermitage, Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, during a BBC recording of Radio 4's Sunday Worship from the United States.
'The paradox of the Christian community is that people are gathered together in voluntary displacement' (Henri Nouwen, Compassion).