Contemplating the Real Questions

Recently, I came across these questions posited by Henri Nouwen, who was one of my favorite spiritual writers from the seventies, in addition to Thomas Merton, whose centenary happens to be today. Both of these prolific writers, teachers, priests and mystics, exerted a deep influence on my spirituality.

I read and reflected on these questions, finding them to be quite powerful and a useful tool, and so I saved them, because they are truly perennial questions - meant to be asked over and over again - scrutinized, masticated, authentically pondered, and even verbalized out loud, until they become so deeply internalized that they become part of the fabric of our minds, our prayers, our hearts, and our spirituality.

I can think of no better questions to ask myself at the end of my day as I take time to review  events experienced and encountered, before drifting off to sleep or finishing my night prayers.

As I close out the first month of this still, fairly new year, I commit to asking myself these questions, desiring to slowly work towards a time when I can answer affirmatively to each and every one of them - every single day!


Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone's face?
Did I say words of healing?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love?
These are the real questions.
~ Henri Nouwen


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