In the summer of 1985 Henri Nouwen left his role as a professor at Harvard Divinity School and joined the L’Arche community in Trosly-Brueil, France. Henri spent nine months living and sharing in life with people with and without learning disabilities. At the end of this period of discernment, Henri joined the L’Arche Daybreak community in Canada to serve as their pastor, where he lived until his death in 1996.

Henri wrote extensively about his experiences sharing in life with people with learning disabilities. The Road to Daybreak is Henri’s diary, written during his time with the L’Arche community in Trosly. In it he reflects intimately on his life as an academic and his yearning to be in a place that would bring him ‘closer to the heart of God.’

During Henri’s years with the L’Arche Daybreak community, he supported a young man called Adam who was severely disabled. Henri was asked to support and care for Adam. In his book, Adam: God’s Beloved, Henri describes how, through Adam, he came to a new and deeper understanding of his faith and what it means to be beloved of God.

Henri Nouwen remains a much loved spiritual guide to many for the way in which he so openly wrote about his own struggles, vulnerabilities, frailties and doubts.

Henri Nouwen's books include The Return of the Prodigal Son, Life of the Beloved, The Road to Daybreak, Adam: God's Beloved and Turn My Mourning Into Dancing.

Henri died in September 1996.