A book about the values of “solitude, celibacy, prayer and contemplation”- I must say that these 4 topics scare loads of people off, or at least put them off; myself included.
Mostly it’s because people are afraid of being alone with themselves, of seeing things as they are and of trusting a god they’ve known but never seen. Celibacy then, is another matter, mostly concerning people leading the religious life, to whom this book was addressed.
These activities in turn lead to a certain autonomy which makes Love genuine, coming not out of a need for affection or completion, but rather a generous outward act.
This gives seemingly insignificant activities (those to which Nouwen refers as “clowning”) a value which by far surpasses the actual act.
Not a book for everyone- it’s addressed at people in Christian ministry after all- but what’s inside still does count.