A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Weiderkehr Seeing the holy in the ordinary. “The solution to that restless ache (in the heart) is to learn the art of real Presence”
The Ethiopian Tattoo Shop by Edward Hays Stories supposedly told by a tattoo artist to distract the client from the discomfort of the process of getting a tattoo. These parables have meanings for those on a spiritual quest.
Journeys on the Edge: The Celtic Tradition By Thomas O’Loughlin brings us a look at what has been called Celtic spirituality. He looks at original sources of the first millennium, which can help us understand much of what we inherited from these early Irish ancestors in faith.
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.”
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.
Cosmology and Creation by Paul Brockelman Many have said we need a new story to bring together the scientific and spiritual understandings of life so that our young may live whole lives again. This book is one of the many that attempts to lay out the chapters of such a story. This new story needs to help us rediscover the spiritual insights and practices lying at the core of all the world’s religious traditions. It will help us connect our spiritual and scientific experiences in a way that opens the wonder of awe once again. This new story is not an enemy of the human spirit, but an expression of it.
Rilke’s Book of Hours translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy. The subtitle is “Love Poems to God”.
These poems were considered by Rilke to be spontaneously received prayers. He shares with us a new kind of intimacy with God, finding the divine in the ordinary. Our role is to love the world and thereby love God into being.
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!
It is often said that we need a new approach to the creation story: one that brings together what we are learning about God’s creative process. These three books are full of delight. Delight enough to share with our children and grandchildren. Jennifer Morgan and Dana Lynne Andersen give us this process in Born With a Bang, From Lava to Life, and Mammals Who Morph. Like many children’s sermons that speak powerfully to adults because of their creativity and simplicity, these books intend to retell the creation story using the most recent scientific discoveries.
In days of extreme haste and crowded schedules we need to remember the wisdom of the Sabbath rest. Wayne Mueller has given us a gift of this book Sabbath that can help you to do this. Bringing the balance back into your life is its goal.
Twelve and One-Half Keys by Edward Hays Parables stories for those on a mystic journey. Paradise does not have but one single sacred Gate; rather it has twelve. These twelve Gates of Paradise possess mystic locks that no ordinary key can open. This book contains twelve and one-half parable-stories intended to unlock these Gates of Paradise.
The God Who Fell From Heaven by John Shea Poetry. You will find selections from this book in my Suggested Reading section of the study guides. Shea, helps us fashion poetry our of our everyday experiences,, much as the Psalmist did for the Hebrew Scriptures. Out of print, but Amazon will attempt to find it for you in their out of print service.
The Hour of the Unexpected by John Shea Prayer poems. Another of those books I reach out for when compiling my study guides. Out of print, but Amazon will attempt to fint for you in their out of print service. Rooted in our contemporary life experiences, they confron, shock,embrace, console comfort, and challenge.
Colors: Stories of the Kingdom by John R. Aurelio A collection of 70 stories to help open up the scriptures. Out of print, but Amazon’s out of print service might help you find it. Stories that are as enchanting as the fables of Aesop or Anderson. Each story holds a beautiful lesson that will make you wonder, smike, and want to share.
Complaints Against God by Andrew Greeley
Greeley, with tongue in cheek, reflects on Gospel passages in ways that stimulate imagination. In 24 chapters, Greeley lodges complains about his friends to having been given freedom to choose.
Growing Strong at Broken Places by Paula Ripple Seeking meaning in the pain-filled moments of life. An exploration of the sources and effects of sullering in our lives. Finding meaning in our pain through the use of stories that can bring us growth.
Storytelling: Imagination and Faith by William Bausch A book of stories and a book about storytelling. Use of the imagination in order to break open the word. A work on nattative theology which conbines theory and practice.
For one more day by Mitch Albom, author of Tuesday’s with Morrie, tells the story of a man who was “given” one more day with his mother after a near fatal car crash that happened on his way back to his hometown as he planned to end his life
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt is “as good as writing gets about teaching and learning”. Best selling author of Angela’s Ashes mines his years of teaching high school English in the New York City schools for this engaging book.
Radical Hospitality by Daniel Homan, OSB and Lonni Collins Pratt is a powerful book. It opens up the understanding of monastic hospitality to everyone who is willing and able to open their heart to listening. On the last page we find: “It is a courageous thing to keep getting up every day, and it is a much more courageous thing to rouse your heart and incline it to love. To care for each other, to open the door to the stranger, to open your heart to the stranger, lifts you up into the great dance of life.” Savoring this book gives you insights on how to do this marvelous dance.
Failing America’s Faithful by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend would make for good reading. The first helps to focus on our founders in faith. It might be especially helpful as we try to muddle our way through the confusing spin we are surrounded by as we try to make sense out of what is going on in the world.
Recently a friend loaned me The Velveteen Principles which is based on the much loved children’s (really adult) book The Velveteen Rabbit. It was a delight to read such a clear exposition of the process of becoming “real”. You might want to treat yourself or a friend with these books which can also come in a gift package.
If you want to explore the impact of those events that are highly improbable but have tremendous effects on our lives and culture I recommend Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan. The author only mentions one passage in Matthew’s gospel, but anyone studying scripture can identify many examples of a black swan event that forever changed history. The book left me with a stronger affinity for what I have been calling Sneaky Spirit events for many years.
William P. Young has written a best selling book that invites you to open your mind and heart to a totally innovative way of relating to God and the Trinity in The Shack. A father, whose image of God was distorted by an abusive father, comes to a revelation by way of a tragedy. The miracle of transformation is brought about by his suffering and being brought to freedom through forgiveness. Be prepared to come away from this book with new and exciting questions.