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life of the unbeloved

why don't you write something
about the spiritual life for
me and my friends?



I received a copy of Life of the Beloved in 2006, maybe 2007. I was twenty, maybe twenty-one years old. I had just finished two years of work at the cult center in Indiana, and was getting ready to move to Zambia with my parents to do missionary stuff for most of a year. I was a deeply devout young man, absolutely committed to Jesus and Christianity and the Bible. I had made my choice to follow Christ and I was not turning back. I believed that the choice was mine, because it was the only choice I knew. I didn’t realize at the time that if there is only one choice, it is no choice at all.

Revisiting this book in my first year of seminary, I am immediately drawn to Fred and his unanswered questions. I have all the same questions he does, questions that prevent my soul from hearing Nouwen’s beautiful meditations on belovedness.

If I could excise those questions from my heart, lobotomize the part of this human organism that asks “why?” of the night sky, perhaps I would be able to feel loved by God the way I am supposed to. I cannot.

But though I cannot speak of belovedness with any authenticity, I don’t think the spiritual life is beyond my reach. I have a hunch that the questions themselves have a spiritual quality, and that a life of doubting (which is just an ugly word for wondering) is a life lived faithfully, even if there’s no God keeping score.

This hunch leads me back to Fred’s question from the beginning of Life of the Beloved: “Why don’t you write something about the spiritual life for me and my friends?”

So that’s why I sat down to fill these pages.

I want to write something about the spiritual life. For me, and my friends.

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