Happy Tuesday everyone!
I wanted to share a few quotes from Henri Nouwen:
“Being is more important than doing”
“The heart is more important than the mind”
“To give and receive love is at the center of humanity”
“It is better to be together than to be alone”
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt, 1669
I finished reading Henri Nouwen’s book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, this past weekend and when David Crowder’s “Shadows” song came on, well it all lined up so well I had to use it in a slideshow:
Normally I do NOT like religious art, especially the excessive paintings from the Baroque period (just not my preference), but Nouwen’s writing gave me a new appreciation for The Prodigal Son – the painting and the story.
In his book, Henri Nouwen reflects on and critiques Rembrandt’s painting of the lost son who comes home – and he uses the story to discuss changes in both Rembrandt’s transformed life and his own.
“When Rembrandt painted the Prodigal, he had lived a life marked by great self-confidence, success, and fame, followed by many painful losses, disappointments, and failures.
Through it all he had moved from the exterior light to the interior light, from the portrayal of external events to the portrayal of the inner meanings, from a life full of things and people to a life more marked by solitude and silence.
With age, Rembrandt grew more and more interior and still. It was a spiritual homecoming.” (p. 64)
Nouwen shares about his own homecoming:
“The return was also from my complaining, comparing, resentful self to my true self that is free to give and receive love.
And even though there have been, and undoubtedly will continue to be, many setbacks, it brought me to the beginning of the freedom to live my own life and die my own death.
The return of the “Father from whom all fatherhood takes its name” allows me to let my dad be no less than the good, loving, but limited human being he is, and to let my heavenly Father be the God whose unlimited, unconditional love melts away all resentments and anger and makes me free to love beyond the need to please of find approval.” (p 83)
Rembrandt’s 1642 drawing of the prodigal son
Nouwen also shares that the Father of the returning son carries a new and mysterious light by which he sees.
“It is an inner light, deeply hidden, but radiating on all pervasive tender beauty.
This inner light, however, had remained hidden for a long time. For many years it remained unreachable for Rembrandt. Only gradually and through much anguish did he come to know that light within himself, and through himself, and in those he painted. Before being like the father, Rembrandt was for a long time like the proud young man who ‘got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money.” (p 30)
Although Rembrandt would never become completely free of debt and debtors, in his early fifties he was able to find a modicum of peace.”
Rosenberg writes that as Rembrandt aged and was sculpted through hard times, “he began to regard man and nature with an even more penetrating eye, no longer distracted by outward splendor or theatrical display.”
Have a great day – and remember – we all go through hard times and each of us will have different things to endure and work through – but quite often the setbacks and hard times are a gift – because they can humble us and allow us to see — and appreciate — what really matters!