Speaks Truth for Today
One of the books I read at the time was Henri Nouwen's Genesee Diary, his journal of a six-month sabbatical spent at the Trappist Abbey of of the Genesee in New York State in 1974. I loved it then and remembered loving it throughout the intervening years. If asked why I held it in fond memory I probably would have had trouble saying exactly why, after almost 30 years. Surely the monastic milieu fascinated, but I couldn't put my finger on why I still remembered it as speaking to my heart.
Recently a hardcover copy that no one wanted found its way into my hands and I thought, "Why not re-read it. It might touch your heart again." Today, I believe that finding this book in my hands was no accident. It was, if not a divine intervention, at least a divine synchronicity. In simple terms, it was the answer to prayer.
The journal is not unlike many other personal accounts of time spent in the monastic environment and community. Nouwen's is made unique by its detailed accounts of numerous conversations with his spiritual director during the months at Genesee. His guide was the abbot of the community, Fr. John Eudes Bamberger. John Eudes was not only a wise and experienced monk but a physician/psychiatrist and former Navy man. The import these conversation had for me was underscored by another odd fact of my second encounter with this book. Shortly after I picked it up again the journal Human Development, in its spring issue (2009), featured an article concerning just these interactions between Nouwen and Bamberger at the Abbey of Genesee!