(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Henri Nouwen was a professor who taught at Harvard University and Yale University before becoming the senior pastor at the L’Arche community called Daybreak in Toronto, Canada, a post he held until his death in 1996. L’Arche is a community of people with disabilities living together. Nouwen was a prolific writer and wrote numerous books on spirituality and daily living. Bread for the Journey is an important book that gives new hope and inspiration for how to live.

Nouwen first began this book with the intention of writing a devotional work that touched on matters relating to all people of faith. However, the more he wrote, the more he realized that he had to deal with Jesus, the center of his life. This devotional book is therefore Christo-centric; its ideas and images center on Christ as savior, teacher, creator, and peace giver. The book is organized as a calendar: Nouwen provides one short inspirational thought for each day of the year. He covers many important issues to help his readers live authentically, holistically, and in a deeper relationship with the divine. Nouwen tries to open his readers’ hearts and minds so that they can focus more intently on God’s presence in and purpose for their lives. According to Nouwen, developing a relationship with God is a lifelong journey; this book is intended as spiritual bread for that journey.

Touching on topics both joyous and sad, Nouwen describes human experiences: loneliness,...

(The entire section is 550 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Kushner, Harold. When All You’ve Ever Wanted Wanted Isn’t Enough: The Search for a Life That Matters. New York: Summit Books, 1965. A search for a meaningful and purposeful life which is beyond the mere gathering of material goods or material success. A complement to Nouwen’s work.

Nouwen, Henri J. M. Finding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the Spirit. New York: Crossroad, 2001. This is a devotional book complementary to Bread for the Journey.

Nouwen, Henri J. M. The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey. New York: Doubleday, 1988. This book reveals Nouwen’s spiritual journey and struggle to decide to live at the L’Arche community in Richmond Hill, Ontario. The book provides strength to the readers as it encourages and helps people who also struggle with life decisions.

Schut, Michael, ed. Simpler Living Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective. Denver, Colo.: Living the Good News, 1999. A compilation of excerpts from contributors such as Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, John B. Cobb, Jr., Frederick Buechner, and others on how to live an abundant life. These essays touch on many aspects of life, including time, wealth, nature, community, and relationships.