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Learning from Henri Nouwen and Vincent van Gogh

by Carol Berry

Carol Berry and her husband met and befriended Henri Nouwen when she sat in his course on compassion at Yale Divinity School in the 1970s. At the request of Henri Nouwen’s literary estate, she has written this book, which includes unpublished material recorded from Nouwen’s lectures.

As an art educator, Berry is uniquely situated to develop Nouwen’s work on Vincent van Gogh and to add her own research. She fills in background on the much misunderstood spiritual context of van Gogh’s work, and reinterprets van Gogh’s art (presented here in full color) in light of Nouwen’s lectures. Berry also brings in her own experience in ministry, sharing how Nouwen and van Gogh, each in his own way, led her to the richness and beauty of the compassionate life.

2019 IVP Formatio


Carol Berry interweaves her own stories with Henri Nouwen's and with those of the artist who inspired them both, Vincent van Gogh. Her deep insights into struggle, solidarity with people, and the nature of creativity are powerful and universal. With careful research and thoughtful reflections, Berry clearly shows the reader the interconnections of their journeys and the threads of beauty they share. As an artist, Berry is able to share from her own sensitivity and insights into Vincent's art making. The printed artworks within allow the reader to reflect on the narrative. I loved this beautiful, deeply felt book.
John August Swanson, Artist and Printmaker
Carol Berry's deep knowledge of Vincent van Gogh, facilitated early on by her friendship with Henri Nouwen, helps us better connect our own suffering and the suffering of others to a more compassionate way of life. Carol invites us to move into the realm of mystery and grace as she underscores the humility and humanity of both men whose ultimate concern was to live practically and lovingly using Jesus as their guide and model. Carol Berry weaves together the lives of these two great Dutch spiritual masters and then offers wonder-filled personal experiences of compassion. For Carol, Henri and Vincent are two wounded healers of the world. They are true brothers able in their own unique but powerfully connected way to heal so many—even now. Carol Berry's book is an inspiration.
Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation

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