BOOKS FOR YOUR SOUL
BY SANDY GOSTEL PERKINS

 

Tis the Season to Find Your God
Yes, the upcoming holiday season has become over-commercialized and materialistic. But you don't have to go too far beneath the glitter and glitz to find that most people still take the time to contemplate their spiritual perspective. The last few years of ever-increasing spiritual awareness is reflected in novels, media, supernatural experiences, and just about every avenue in human existence.

And we continue to question Is there really a God? If so, how can we relate?

Most of us have found that our original discontent did not come as a result of God. It came as a result of church doctrines and teachings that had nothing to do with the "person" of God. Some of us have rejected the patriarchal, angry, old man with a beard. We are now stuck in the tension between desiring a relationship with a Higher Being and not knowing where to look for Him/Her. We have been told to "look within." How do you do that? What do you do with what you find?

There are three wonderfully refreshing books I recently found (or did they find me?) that give inspiring, practical and meaningful answers to those questions. They are titled WALKING A SACRED PATH, by Dr. Lauren Artress, FINDING GOD, by Ken Kaisch, Ph.D., and THE CLOISTER WALK by Kathleen Norris.

 

WALKING A SACRED PATH is written by a female Episcopal priest who also has a doctorate in psychology. Her own studies brought her to the conclusion that the soul is malnourished. As a result of her own quest, Dr. Artress discovered a long-forgotten spiritual tool the labyrinth "which in its strange and uncanny way, offers a sacred and stable space to focus the attention and listen to the longing of the soul."

Artress refers to the God within as the "greatgrandmother's thread." She states that the memory of this thread has been destroyed through centuries of patriarchal domination, through fear of creativity, and fear of traits associated with the feminine.

She has started a spiritual movement and many have literally walked this labyrinth. It is based on the circle, the universal symbol for unity and wholeness. It sparks the human imagination and introduces a kaleidoscopic patterning that builds a sense of relationship; one person to another, to many, to creation of the whole. It is a sacred place and can give us firsthand experiences of the Divine. The labyrinth captures the essence of the medieval reality a highly sensate world that was not plagued with so many splits between reason and imagination, thought and feeling, psyche and spirit.

Dr. Artress gives workshops and training on the entire concept of labyrinth walking. She has a portable canvas labyrinth to bring to those places that do not already have one. She believes we can achieve being co-creators with the forces of Light that guide human existence.

Published by Riverhead Books, this book is available in paperback for $11.00 at your local bookstore.

 

FINDING GOD
is written by another priest and psychologist. I was first introduced to Ken when he presented a workshop for the Ph.D. students at Trinity College. Having taken T.M. a few years back, I was intrigued by Ken's topic of Christian Meditation. In his book he states "There is a part of us, buried deeply inside, that is already in union with God. This is the true self . . . already whole and complete . . . we need a means to let go of our identification with the false self."

In an easy-to-follow manner, Ken guides us through many types of meditation walking, chanting, lectio divina (holy words), visualization, etc. The end result is a method of going so deeply within that you see yourself as you were created to be, and you encounter the one who created you. Refreshingly, Ken also believes that God is just as female as male!

Ken also runs workshops and training seminars. He and his wife, Suzanne, are the founders of One Heart, an organization dedicated to spiritual development through meditation groups.

Published by Paulist Press, this book is available in paperback for $19.95 at your local bookstore.

 

THE CLOISTER WALK
is written by a layperson. Kathleen Norris is a writer by profession, married, and was raised in a Protestant denomination not a person you would suspect would end up a Benedictine Oblate.

In journal form, Kathleen allows us to glimpse the profound changes that have come into her life. One perspective in particular is how time has changed. "In our culture, time can seem like an enemy; it chews us up and spits us out with appalling ease . . . time is a gift from God, THE CLOISTER WALK seeks to put (time) to good use rather than allowing us to be used up by it."

You cannot help but be affected by Kathleen's story. Anyone who has ever desired to make sense out of life, to find meaning in existence, and who wants to commune with the Divine, will want to embrace a path like Kathleen's. You might not want to become an oblate, but you will want to find that unique path that has been illuminated just for you by the "Creator who loves you."

Published by Riverhead Books, this book is available in hardback for $23.95 at your local bookstore.

These three books are books that answer questions, they don't ask them. Take in what they have to say and I know that many of your own questions will be answered.


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