Clowning in Rome: Reflections on Solitude, Celibacy, Prayer, and Contemplation collects four lectures given by the Catholic priest Henri Nouwen at the North American College in Rome in the 1970s. The lectures, which explore each of the topics named in the book's subtitle, are direct, pragmatic, and delightful. Nouwen's views on these weighty subjects are suffused with a lightness inspired by the clowns whose street performances captured his imagination during a visit to the Holy City. He describes these clowns as "awkward, out of balance and left-handed," and sees them as reminders of human weakness whose fumbles offer important lessons about the holiness of play. "Whenever the clowns appear we are reminded that what really counts is something other than the spectacular and the sensational," Nouwen writes. "Clowns remind us of what happens between the scenes. The clowns show us by their 'useless' behavior not simply that many of our preoccupations, worries, tensions, and anxieties need a smile, but that we too have white on our faces and that we too are called to clown a little." --Michael Joseph Gross
A classic work by one of this century's most beloved spiritual writers now reissued.
The inspirational writings of Henri Nouwen have touched millions of readers all over the world, and since his death in September 1996, widespread recognition of their enduring value has continued to grow. Now, after being unavailable for several years, Nouwen's Clowning in Rome is available again as an Image trade paperback. In this classic account of the time he spent in Rome, Nouwen offers reflections and spiritual insight characteristic of his best works. During the months in Rome, it wasn't the red cardinals or the Red Brigade who had the most impact on Nouwen, but the little things that took place between the great scenes. In some ways, Nouwen discovered, the real and true story was told by the clowns he often saw in the city streets. In his own words, from the Introduction to Clowning in Rome: "The clowns are not the center of events. They appear between the great acts, fumble and fall and make us smile again after the tensions created by the heroes we came to admire. The clowns don't have it together--they are awkward, out of balance and left-handed, but--they are on our side. The clowns remind us with a tear and a smile that we are sharing the same human weakness. The longer I was in Rome, the more I enjoyed the clowns, those peripheral people who by their humble, saintly lives evoke a smile and awaken hope, even in a city terrorized by kidnapping and street violence."
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