Teresa of Avila, in her book The Interior Castle says: This Lord of ours is so anxious that we should desire Him and strive after His companionship that He calls us ceaselessly, time after time, to approach Him. These appeals come through the conversations of good people, or from sermons, or through the reading of good books; and there are many other ways, of which you have heard, in which God calls us. (The bold print is mine.)
For Tarella Spirituality this week I thought I would share with you some of the books that have touched me over the past twelve months, the words that have helped me to understand myself a little better, cleared the cobwebs away when I was in danger of getting stuck in a rut and often dissolved into prayer. No poetry or specifically spiritual books– maybe another time. I hope this is what Teresa had in mind when she spoke about ‘good books’.
Gratitude by Oliver Sacks
A slim little hardback that I read about on a website called Brain Pickings. It’s a reflection on aging and getting ready for death, written when he had just turned 80. The writing is simple and focuses on gratitude for all that has been in his life.
Next of Kin by Joanna Trollope
Joanna Trollope writes like a novelist who has a social worker background. I look for her books on op shop shelves, read them and return (to a different op shop) when I finish. She writes about real people, mainly women, facing the issues and experiences such as second marriages, small children, death and unemployment and the boredom of everyday. She nurtures my compassion.
Lazarus by Morris West
Recently I re-read the Morris West memoir A View from the Ridge and it led me to re-read another of his books called Lazarus, first published in 1990. As I read I realized how prophetic it was. The main character reminded me so much of the present Pope.
The Religious Imagination of American Women by Mary Farrell Bednarowski
This is an academic kind of book and I brought on the internet. The print is small the matter fascinating but dense and I read it with a highlighter in hand. All up it took me several months to finish. The chapter I’ve been back to several times focuses on the revelatory power of the ordinary and the ordinariness of the sacred. I have a suspicion that a similar book about Australian women’s religious imagination might differ from that of the American experience.
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
I picked this up at random at the library, attracted by the title and the back cover blurb. He writes about small town America and ordinary people, in this case a lonely woman and man who tackle their loneliness quite creatively. I’ve since gone on to read two more by this author and appreciate the beauty of the words and the grace and hope that sings through every page.
The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble
The author is well known, and this is her latest book. Like a lot of the books I’m drawn to lately, it’s about aging. The plot was mildly interesting, especially as the main character was herself a woman who would be seen as elderly, but I was mostly interested in the ripple effect that aging has on the community as a whole, its universality
In the Image of Christ by Phyllis Zagano
In words that are always to the point Phyllis tells what it is like to be female and Catholic in the twenty first century. She writes a fortnightly column for the American paper National Catholic Reporter (NCR) and most of the essays in this small book are taken from there. Her words encourage, enlighten and support me when I ask questions of the Church, questions so far they aren’t answering.
The Forgotten Notebook by Betty Churcher
I suppose it’s a coffee table book – wonderful paintings from other centuries and places, accompanied by the sketches Betty made sitting in front of the original, supplemented by her musings and knowledge of the painter and the sitters. I’m not particularly into art galleries but this very tactile book has stimulated an interest in paintings, which is probably a good thing, a gift.
Becoming Wise An Enquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett
Krista Tippet interviews interesting people, women and men who are invited to answer her gently probing questions and uncover the depths that lie beneath the way they live their lives. It’s a spiritual book, full of deep insights and the wisdom that comes from her own reflection on what others have shared with her and the way she picks up what I would understand as the small, still voice of God or a voice wanting to be heard in the wilderness that is sometimes modern life. It’s a book I will re-read, a book that I’ve already highlighted here and there. You can listen to her podcasts at http://www.onbeing.org .
Thank you to those who took the time to respond to my request for some feedback. It was very helpful.
As a beginning Connexions is back on line.
Click on Connexions to find a reflection for the fourth Sunday of Year A.