The Road to Daybreak: Book Review

It’s been almost a month now since I’ve been reading a book called The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey by Henri Nouwen and I feel like in some ways, it has changed the way I think and my own spiritual journey. I’m usually a fast reader who picks up a book, reads it and then puts it away. But this is one book I’ve been reading every single day.

Nouwen said that he wrote the book because he felt the need to describe simply and honestly what happened to him after he found a home. I think that he has done that and also more with this book. It is actually more like a personal journal with short entries each day and though it is just a diary, it’s so rich and profound.

Henri Nouwen is a prolific writer who permeates light in his works. In this book, he chronicles his journey from being a Professor at Harvard to staying at the L’Arche Community in the small village of Trosly in France to finally sharing his last years with mentally and physically disabled people at L’Arche Daybreak Community in Toronto, Canada. His story is an inspiring story of a man who left a world of academic success in order to pursue a closer intimacy with God.

Nouwen writes of his struggles and doubts. He also writes of God’s grace and how he came to truly love and embrace life at L’Arche. He recounts the lessons learnt and the journey along a stony path. However, after moving away from the brightest minds in the world to the what may seem as the dullest minds, he writes of how he was able to find peace, restoration and a deeper meaning of life and faith. As you read this book, you will find that you are not simply reading his story. You are walking with him as he takes you to see the “home” he had finally found.

Nouwen’s style of writing reflects his academic background in the sense that it so well written that the simplicity of his words are strikingly refreshing. The Road to Daybreak is a book that allows the reader to gain a deeper insight into faith, the human family and the heart of God.

An entry that was particularly impactful in my own life is called “Useless” Prayer. It said

Why should I spend an hour in prayer when all I do is nothing but think about people I am angry with, people who are angry with me, books I should read and books I should write, and thousands of other silly things that happen to grab my mind at the moment?
The answer is: because God is bigger than my mind and my heart… The reason to love is love itself.

I’ve never been able to relate to a book like I have in such a meaningful way and it is a book that has impacted me forever. If you ever come into this book, I suggest you buy even if you’re not the type who reads spiritual books. I wasn’t either. I only ever liked fiction and poetry, but this book has helped me gain a better perspective with every page I turn and in fact, I can continue re-reading it again and again and still find new things to ponder on.

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