here are a few selected quotes from henri nouwen’s “reaching out”

“There is much mental suffering in our world. But some of it is suffering for the wrong reason because it is born out of the false expectation that we are called to take each other’s loneliness away. When loneliness drives us away from oukrselves into the arms of our companions in life, we are, in fact, driving ourselves into excruciating relationships, tiring friendships and suffocating embraces…No friend or lover, no husband or wife, no community or commune will be able to put to rest our deepest cravings for unity and wholeness”

“By slowly converting our loneiness into a a deep solitude, we create that precious space where we can discover the voice telling us about our inner necessity–that is, our vocation. Unless the questions, problems and concerns are tested and matured in solitude, it is not realistic to expect answers that are really our own… Frequently, we are restlessly looking for answers, going from door to door, from book to book, or from school to school, without having really listened carefully and attentively to the questions. [quoted from rilke:] ‘I want to beg you as much as I can…to be patient toward all that is unresovled in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…’ ”

“Without the solitude of heart, the intimacy of friendship, marriage and community life cannot be creative. Without the same solitude of heart, our relationships with others easily become needy and greedy, sticky and clinging, dependant and sentimental, exploitave and parasitic, because without the solitude of heart we cannot expeirence the others as different from ourselves but only as people who can be used for the fulfillment of our own, often hidden, needs….
The mystery of love is that it protects and respects the aloneness of the other and creates the free space where he can convert his loneliness into a solitude that can be shared. In this solitude we can strenghten each other by mutual respect, by careful considration of each other’s individuality, by an obedient distance from each other’s privacy and by a reverent understanding of the sacredness of the human heart. In this solitude we encourage each other to enter into the silence of our innermost being and discover there the voice that calls us beyond the limits of human togetherness into a new communion. In this soloitude we can slowly become aware of the presence of him who embraces friends and lovers and offers us the freedom to love each other, because he loved us first.”