Here and Now: Living in the Spirit

In these quiet winter days I reread a book of meditations by Henri Nouwen titled Here and Now. Any time spent with this gifted spiritual guide is sure to delight. I remember a chaplain convention where he was our plenary speaker. He had his friend Adam seated on stage with him. This will always affect the way that I encounter his writings. He put skin on his witness just as he says Jesus did that for God for us. It is a small but mighty book to read and reread.

Fresh Bread

In her book, Fresh Bread, Sr. Joyce Rupp takes you through the year with scriptures recommended for daily reflection. Each month has a theme that can awaken a quiet time of meditation and is designed for those whose lives are busy but need a method to integrate their experiences with their faith.  Written in 1985, but timeless in content, I recommend this to those wanting to bring a focus to their days.

Immortal Diamond

If you only have time for one book this year please consider Richard Rohr’s newest book Immortal Diamond. This is a work that is so approachable you will find yourself saying “yes, yes” on almost every page. As the back cover says “This book is the ripe ftuit of a life couragously and honestly lived. Such profound wisdom conveyed with such elegant simplicity!” It will also make a wonder filled gift for some special in your life.

Genius Born of Anguish

I vividly remember a convention that featured Henri Nouwen as our main speaker. He had his friend Adam with him sitting on stage. Reading Genius Born of Anguish helped to fill out my awareness of this gifted man. I, along with multitudes of others, have been drawn to his willingness to plum the depths of his own growth in faith and share it with us in his many books, conferences, retreats etc. down through the years. If you too have found a soul friend in Henri, you will love this book.

My Life with the Saints

In his book My Life with the Saints Fr. James Martin, S.J. takes us on a journey of discovery.  He concludes his book by saying: “I hope this book is also a beginning for you, and that it has offered encouragement in your own journey with the saints. The saints in this book ar those for whom I feel the most affection, those who have afforded me courage,and those who I believe have prayed for me during some tough times. I hope that some of them will become your companions, too. Then one day, united in heaven, we will be able to thank God for these men and women who have been our models, our intercessors, and our friends.” In encourage you to read the last chapter first so that you will be encouraged to be the you God has created you to be, just as these role models certainly were.

Gold in Your Memories

 Gold in your Memories by Macrina Wiederkehr, Ave Maria Press in Notre Dame, IN. 1998, will be a deep mine for those who want to dig for the gold in their own memories. Macrina is someone who can put you in touch with the spiritual energy that resides within you to empower you to make new memories every day you live. She shares my belief that we are all a work in process and our lives are a tapestry of memories. I invite you to taste one of her haiku poems: “A tiny gold leaf / offers a silent sermon / from a barren branch.”

Tuesday’s With Morrie

 Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, Doubleday, 1997.
I have been serving people in their process of living until they die for many years now, and this wonderful little book touches my heart.  Morrie, a professor; Mitch a former student; come together in this powerful story of living fully until the end of a full life. We are let in on the process of this reconnection of lives in a way that gives an example of how rich such a risk can be for all concerned.  Morrie taught with his life. He also taught with his death. This is a book to curl up with on a cold winter day, because it will warm your heart and soul through and through.

Kitchen Table Wisdom

 Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. Riverhead Books, Berkeley Pub. Co. NY. 1996.
Dr. Remen shares the fruit of her reflection on a life spent in helping people find meaning in their struggles to be whole. This is a book to keep handy for those times when you want to slow down and spend some time pondering deep truths. The stories told are usually two to three pages long, but you will find yourself leaning back after each one, needing to go within yourself to dialogue with the insights they evoke. This will also be a good book to have extra copies at hand, because you will find yourself saying: “I need to give? a copy of this book.

Amazing Grace

 Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith  by Kathleen Norris. NY. Riverhead Books. 1998.
Words that have the potential to evoke strong responses, are subjects of short chapters that make for reflective reading. This is a good example of the practice of  “holy reading” or lectio divina. You will find yourself meditating on your own power filled words for the revelation they hold. Norris helps by modeling this ancient process of probing her experiences for the graces they hold. Simply amazing.

The Road Less Traveled and Beyond

 The Road Less Traveled & Beyond by M. Scott Peck. NY. Simon & Schuster. 1997.
As anxiety becomes more intense, it is an opportunity for spiritual growth. “Scotty” lets us in on his spiritual growth in this book. I recommend reading the last chapter first, as it will give you the fruit of this authors reflection on his growth experiences. For those who have read other books by Peck, this one will tie all the earlier books together. In times like ours today, where we feel disoriented by so many rapid changes, a book like this will encourage you to go with God’s process of bringing you into your maturing as well.

Ethics for a New Millennium

 Ethics for the New Millennium by Dalai Lama With so much energy devoted to concerns evoked by the year 2000, it is good to have a balanced and hope filled look at what the future can be. This world esteemed man of peace, has given us a work that clearly and simply identifies the issues and possible responses. People of good will and brave hearts will resonate to this work. Those with an agenda or special interest to push should approach this book with caution.

Callings

Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Michael Levoy could easily win my “book of the year” nomination. Every life consists of a series of “calls”, urging us to keep on keeping on in our growth in faith and love. This is an easy to read book, full of examples of others who were negotiating the tight passages to authenticity. You will find some of your own struggles in their stories, as well as suggestions of where to identify the Spirit’s activity in your life. Jean Huston says: “It’s like the remembrance of everything you knew but then forgot.” So true!