Nouwen: Writing, Opening a Deep Well

Writing is a passion of mine. I have always enjoyed it for its endless uses, whether imaginative, pragmatic, whimsical, documentary, or artistic. Yet sometimes I fall prey to the feeling Henri Nouwen describes in his book “The Way of the Heart“: that my words are just adding to an already-vast “sea of words”.

Although words may seem to lose their meaning now and again, it is comforting to open a book like my current read, “Mister Good Morning”, and find such power in words written with imagination and with heart, stories that move us, by allegory, to see and smell and taste and feel our way into new realizations.

Another of Nouwen’s reflections from “Bread for the Journey” struck me:

Writing is not just jotting down ideas.  Often we say:  “I don’t know what to write.  I have no thoughts worth writing down.”  But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself.  As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there.

One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see.

It is worth mentioning that, as with anything we do, it is necessary for us to practice, spending hours and even years operating at a mediocre level, honing our craft, until we produce something truly spectacular. This breakthrough may take longer for some than others. But even in that process we can open up the doors to the storehouses of experience that enable others to see with new eyes.

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