Updated: Dec 27, 2018
This past year I had more time to read than usually. If you have been following me on Instagram you have seen my enthusiasm for some of the books I have read. As I am reflecting back on this year, there are a few books that describe and summarize my year better than anything else. I decided to share what those books are and my favorite quotes from them.
I would love to hear in comments below what books sum up your past year.
1. The Broken Way: A Daring Path Into the Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp
When this book landed on my lap, little did I know how transforming and comforting its voice would become to me! The message of "living broken" revealed my discomfort with pain, and all that I did to avoid it, and how the fear of suffering held me back. My year wasn't marked with much personal suffering (although there was some of that too for sure, after all, I live in this broken world and body, just like you!), but rather the realization of how my fear of suffering had crept into the allies of my heart and body. I don't want to run away from pain. I want to examine my heart, and bring my fears to Jesus. I am thankful for God gently pointing me to a freer, more trusting way.
“What if … what if I made a habit of every day pressing my wounds into the wounds of Christ – could my brokenness be made into a healing abundance for the brokenness of the world? A kind of communion?”
2. Listening for the Soul: Pastoral Care and Spiritual Direction by Jean Stairs
This book was both enriching for my practice as a spiritual director, and nurturing for my own soul. The practice of spiritual direction has been one of the greatest graces and joys for me this year. I officially launched my own private practice in January 2018, and have been watching in awe God to bring wonderful people to my doorstep! I have met God in and through each person I've gotten to know through spiritual direction, both other directors, and directees. I am incredibly grateful for the gift of faith in each life that I have had the privilege to bear a witness to.
"Listening for the soul means paying attention to the signs of God's voice and graceful activity and inviting others to become more aware of God speaking through such sings. "There is nothing, no thing, no person, no experience, no thought, no joy or pain – that cannot be harvested and used for nourishment on our journey to God." When we recognize what is before our eyes, what is hidden become revealed to us."
3. The Religious Potential of the Child by Sofia Cavalletti
Next to offering spiritual direction to adults, I have had a chance to pursue my desire to practice soul listening with children. Last summer and fall, I followed a training for spiritual directors who want to work with children, and now nearly half of my directees are children! It is a pure joy to learn to accompany children in their lives of faith. I am humbled by this opportunity, and as much as I am eager to affirm their lives in God, I acknowledge how they encourage and enrich mine. As a part of the training, I got to read great books on children's spirituality. Here is one of the gems that keeps envisioning and encouraging me on this journey.
"God – who is Love – and the child, who asks for love more than his mother's milk, thus meet one another in a particular correspondence of nature. The child, in encounter with God, delights in the satisfaction of a profound exigence or his person, and an authentic exigence of life. In helping the child's religious life, far from imposing something that is foreign to him, we are responding to the silent's silent request: "Help me to come closer to God by myself."
4. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
I did not only read lots of excellent children's books for the sake of the children who I work with, but also for my own delight :). This year was the first full year of our marriage, and like any married person has always told me, being married exposes our blind spots in ways that few other relationships can. This classic story is such a beautiful image of what love does to us. The divine love of God loved us into life, and he keeps working through people to bring more life, wholeness and freedom to us as we live into our truest selves in a community.
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time.” “...once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
5. The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
Finally, I have been exploring various forms of creative expression, both in my own spiritual life and in my spiritual direction practice. It came to me as a complete surprise and gift, when I met a lady in my neighborhood who hosted "the Artis's Way" book club and invited me to join. I had no idea how invested and wonderful journey it would become for me, and how timely it was as I was getting ready to launch the Peace Bead Kit (a tactile prayer tool) that my sister and I created.
"When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the Creator's creativity within us and our lives."
I have a list of books lined up for 2019, but time will show which ones I will end up reading, and which will come to tell the story of the year ahead...