Henri Nouwen quotes and sayings remain very popular to this day. Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest and writer who lived from 1932 until 1996. He wrote over thirty books and many more articles, many of which covered themes of loneliness, depression and the need for deep personal connections.
Other common themes, of course, were spirituality and Nouwen’s relationship with God. Below is a selection of our favorite Henri Nouwen quotes.
Henri Nouwen Quotes And Sayings
“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”
“Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.”
“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”
“The real enemies of our life are the ‘oughts’ and the ‘ifs.’ They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and now.”
“Do not tell everyone your story. You will only end up feeling more rejected. People cannot give you what you long for in your heart. The more you expect from people’s response to your experience of abandonment, the more you will feel exposed to ridicule.”
“Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.”
“Our life is full of brokenness – broken relationships, broken promises, broken expectations. How can we live with that brokenness without becoming bitter and resentful except by returning again and again to God’s faithful presence in our lives?”
“While my friend always spoke about the sun, I kept speaking about the clouds, until one day I realized that it was the sun that allowed me to see the clouds.”
“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”
“God is faithful to God’s promises. Before you die, you will find acceptance and the love you crave. It will not come in the way you expect. It will not follow your needs and wishes. But it will fill your heart and satisfy your deepest desire. There is nothing to hold on but this promise. Cling to the naked promise in faith. Your faith will heal you.”
“The fruits of your labors may be reaped two generations from now. Trust. Even when you don’t see the results.”
“The greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity or power, but self-rejection.”
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
“Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life, not just in the moments we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines. Not just in the moments when life seems easy.”
“If fear is the great enemy of intimacy, love is its true friend.”
“When suddenly you seem to lose all you thought you had gained, do not despair. You must expect setbacks and regressions. Don’t say to yourself ‘All is lost. I have to start all over again.’ This is not true. What you have gained, you have gained. When you return to the the road, you return to the place where you left it, not to where you started.”
“Solitude is very different from a ‘time-out’ from our busy lives. Solitude is the very ground from which community grows. Whenever we pray alone, study, read, write, or simply spend quiet time away from the places where we interact with each other directly, we are potentially opened for a deeper intimacy with each other.”
“In prayer… again and again we discover that the love we are looking for has already been given to us and that we can come to the experience of that love… There, in the first love, lies our true self, a self not made up of the rejections and acceptances of those with whom we live, but solidly rooted in the One who called us into existence.”
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
“As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their ‘right’ place.”
“What makes us human is not our mind but our heart, not our ability to think but our ability to love.”
“You don’t think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking.”
“Although we tend to think about saints as holy and pious, and picture them with halos above their heads and ecstatic gazes, true saints are much more accessible. They are men and women like us, who live ordinary lives and struggle with ordinary problems. What makes them saints is their clear and unwavering focus on God and God’s people.”
“Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient, we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Let’s be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.”
“The more we train ourselves to spend time with God and God alone, the more we will discover that God is with us at all times and in all places. Then we will be able to recognize God even in the midst of a busy and active life. Once the solitude of time and space has become a solitude of the heart, we will never have to leave that solitude. We will be able to live the spiritual life in any place and time.”
“Intimate communion with God is not an easy discipline. Remember, Jesus spent the night in prayer. Night is a time of mystery, darkness, solitude, and sometimes loneliness… Prayer doesn’t always offer an insight that suddenly comes to your mind. Communion with God is more often an intuition or inner conviction that God’s heart is greater than your heart, God’s mind is greater than your human mind, and God’s light is so much greater than your light that it might blind you and make you feel like you’re in the night…”
“Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies … the pain of the leaving can tear us apart.
Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.”
Henri Nouwen Quotes
If you enjoyed this collection of Henri Nouwen quotes and sayings, you may also like our Padre Pio quotes and sayings, our Gordon B. Hinckley quotes, our Abraham Hicks quotes, our Smith Wigglesworth quotes and our Myles Munroe quotes.