Henri Nouwen’s Gift to Anne Lamott

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Henri Nouwen’s Gift to Anne Lamott

May 25

[Re-posted in part from the Anglican Journal, May 18, 2016 – story by Tali Folkins]

When Anne Lamott found herself, at age 31, a self-loathing drug and alcohol addict, it was the idea of “radical self-love,” as expressed by Henri Nouwen and writers like him, that allowed her to turn a corner on her life, the 62-year-old American writer told a Toronto audience last week.

“Little by little by little, I started being a resurrection story, and…it was self-love,” Lamott said. “I found out who I was, the Beloved…It loved me back to life.”

Lamott, author of numerous works of fiction and non-fiction including the New York Times bestsellers Grace (Eventually) and Plan B, was speaking at a talk, “Henri & Me,” presented by the Henri Nouwen Society Friday, May 13.

Nouwen, a Roman Catholic priest, was born in the Netherlands but lived much of his adult life in the U.S. and Canada. A professor and author of 39 books, he often wrote openly of his loneliness and other inner struggles. He was also, like his friend Jean Vanier, involved in L’Arche, a network of communities for disabled people.

In her talk, Lamott, whose non-fiction often deals with her own life struggles and spiritual life in a frank, humourous way, delivered, in somewhat stream-of-consciousness fashion, a loose spiritual and psychological autobiography of her earlier years, with a liberal mixture of often-dark wit that drew frequent laughter and, ultimately, a standing ovation from her audience.

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