On this third day of the Henri Nouwen Spiritual Direction Retreat, we led participants in the spiritual discipline of writing and sharing one’s personal and sacred story–which Henri called “My History with God.”
The idea is that each of us has not just a biography, but that our personal narrative can be viewed as sacred history in which God’s hand is evident at every step along the way, and that it may be only in retrospect that we see and understand the guiding hand of God through the seasons, experienes and influences of our lives.
Henri told his story using the Rebrandt’s painting of the Return of the Prodigal Son. I told my story by drawing and identifying seven Ebenezer stones of God’s faithfulness on my journey thus far. “Hitherto hath the Lord help us” was the text I used for this witness (I Samuel 7:12). Rebecca drew a time line on the whiteboard and marked the events, people and places that have shapped her life. Everyone had time to represent and share their sacred story during the retreat–which turned out to be the most important exercise of all.
We came here expecting to introduce Henri Nouwen spirituality to Korean pastors, but we found that Henri was quite well-known in Korea; most of his books have been translated into Korean, including our own. But was most surprising was how the ministers and wives enjoyed Rebecca and I as a clergy couple co-teaching the workshop. Without much self-consciousness, we were modeling the values of mutuality, collaboration and servant leadership. Other ministers and their spouses seemed to catch a vision of how they could co-lead and minister together.