Listenings: A Time for Review

When posts follow a theme for some length of time, it is easy to lose sight of the “grand view.”  Before we move into the third phase of the book, let’s remember where we are.

Nouwen viewed the spiritual as developmental and progressive, just as our physical life is.  So, the book is organized in relation to early, midlife, and mature movements in spiritual formation.  These stages should not be mechanically or legalistically applied to a particular phase of life, but at the same time, they do correspond to our ability to see and process certain issues better at certain times than others.

I personally believe that the threefold progression is patterned after the classical “mystical way”–with the early stage corresponding to purgation, the middle stage to illumination, and the mature stage to union.  Without being overt, the book also weaves the unity of body, soul, and spirit to show that spiritual formation is a whole-person enterprise.

We are now poised to work our way through the third section: mature movements.  A look at the two themes within this section reveals why our formation in these areas usually comes later in life.

And as with any race, the “home stretch” is often the most exciting phase.  And so it is with the development of our life in Christ.

(Note:  Just a reminder that you can review the entire series of meditations based on Henri Nouwen’s book, Spiritual Formation, by clicking on the “Listenings” category and going back to April 9, 2012 where the series began).

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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