The Absence of God

This year I spent some time reading Henri Nouwen’s Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith. I am more and more drawn to Nouwen’s writings and I am particularly interested in thoughts on spiritual formation and direction. Thus, this work was an important part of my journey.

In the book, there is a very interesting chapter entitled “Who Is God For Me?” And, while Nouwen addresses some more well-known aspects such as “God Is with Us” and “God Is Personal,” he also offers insights on a not-so-talked-about characteristic: “God Is Hidden.”

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Friend of the Soul

friend of the soulJust this week I finished reading Friend of the Soul: A Benedictine Spirituality of Work by Norvene Vest. Vest is a spiritual director and author who focuses much of her work on Benedictine spirituality. I was looking for some more resources around vocation and calling as I develop a new course called The Religious Dimension of Work, so this work was recommended to me by Chris Smith of the Englewood Review of Books.

Who is this friend referred to in the book’s title? It is work. Through the Rule of St. Benedict, Vest offers that work is to be our friend, a friend of the soul. For me, this was a beautiful, fresh insight!

Not that I don’t already know that work is good and all work of all types can be done to the glory of God. But seeing work as our friend calls us to see it as something very personal, very intimate. Even more, rather than seeing work as something we simply deal with or, worse yet, despise, I have come to better appreciate work as our companion of the soul. Continue reading