You may have read Henri Nouwen’s remarkably influential book from 1992, The Return of the Prodigal Son. What readers did not discover until years later is that The Return of the Prodigal Son was written out of a crisis point in Nouwen’s own life, a crisis that he reveals in his later book The Inner Voice of Love. It raises the question that is not new, “Do we write and speak best at depth when we have been (or are still at) a low point in our own spiritual or emotional lives?
Nouwen subtitles The Inner Voice of Love with the words, “A Journey through Anguish to Freedom”. I came across it in an abbey bookshop when I was on retreat in the first week of June this year. It is in very short chapters that reflect the author’s dwelling on aspects of his inner journey, revealing the insights that were coming to him during this intense period of inner turmoil. It is not an easy read, but it is a helpful one, and best taken in small sections. In fact I have not finished it yet, but take it down from time to time and read a little more. When I have finished it I will leave it in the St Mary’s library.