God’s Life Within Us – 6 quotes from Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book – Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life  

by Mark Votava


1. The here and now

“The spiritual life is not a life before, after, or beyond our everyday existence.  No, the spiritual life can only be real when it is lived in the midst of the pains and joys of the here and now.  Therefore we need to begin with a careful look at the way we think, speak, feel, and act from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, and year to year, in order to become more fully aware of our hunger for the Spirit…”

2. The life of the Spirit within and among us

“To set our hearts on the kingdom therefore means to make the life of the Spirit within and among us the center of all we think, say, or do.”

3. Deeper into the world

“The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it…”

4. The mystery of God’s life within us

“Indeed, living a spiritual life requires a change of heart, a conversion.  Such a conversion may be marked by a sudden inner change, or it can take place through a long, quiet process of transformation.  But it always involves an inner experience of oneness.  We realize that we are in the center, and that from there all that is and all that takes place can be seen and understood as part of the mystery of God’s life within us.  Our conflicts and pains, our tasks and promises, our families and friends, our activities and projects, our hopes and aspirations, no longer appear to us as a fatiguing variety of things which we can barely keep together, but rather as affirmations and revelations of the new life of the Spirit in us.  ‘All these other things,’ which so occupied and preoccupied us, now come as gifts or challenges that strengthen and deepen the new life which we have discovered.  This does not mean that the spiritual life makes things easier or takes our struggles and pains away…  What matters is to listen attentively to the Spirit and to go obediently where we are being led, whether to a joyful or a painful place.”    

5. A spiritual life without discipline is impossible

“Here we touch the question of discipline in the spiritual life.  A spiritual life without discipline is impossible.  Discipline is the other side of discipleship.  The practice of a spiritual discipline makes us more sensitive to the small, gentle voice of God…  Through the practice of a spiritual discipline we become more attentive to that small voice and willing to respond when we hear it.”

6. The pains and struggles we encounter

“In solitude, we come to know the Spirit who has already been given to us.  The pains and struggles we encounter in our solitude thus become the way to hope, because our hope is not based on something that will happen after our sufferings are over, but on the real presence of God’s healing Spirit in the midst of these sufferings.  The discipline of solitude allows us gradually to come in touch with this hopeful presence of God in our lives…”   

Which quotes do you like the best?