Do you ever wish you had forty days to dedicate to spiritual growth and reflection? The Christian tradition of Lent (February 22 through April 8 this year) offers us just that, and whether we celebrate in the Christian tradition or not, we can all benefit from this time of intentionality and rest. The resources below cover a wide range of topics, including our connection to the earth, embodiment, meditations, and spiritual activism. They offer a fresh take on past voices, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Howard Thurman, and ancient Indigenous wisdom. Any one of these books will encourage you in your practice of reflection during this somber, yet hopeful, time.
Research indicates that spending time in a natural setting provides a plethora of benefits, from lower blood pressure to increased immunity to an enhanced sense of well-being. But the pace of our lives often leaves little room for connecting with nature, and our history of colonization complicates our relationship to the landscapes we inhabit. Guided by wellness coach and poet Heidi Barr, Collisions of Earth and Sky is a journey of self-inquiry for digging into our origins and roots, figuring out what it means to be a good community member and integrating those truths and lessons so we can add to the healing of the world.
These days, many of us live in a state of overreactive fight-or-flight response and chronic stress. But new developments in brain science have recently proven that an intentional practice of pausing for a few minutes actually rewires our brain in ways that make us calmer, less reactive, and better able to see the bigger picture. In Practice the Pause, spiritual director and writer Caroline Oakes explores how a seven-second pause practice can move us beyond the fight-or-flight responses of our ego in our daily lives and actually equip us to cultivate the common good in the world.
For millennia, humans have been shaped by the Psalms. And before the Nazis banned him from publishing, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer published this book on the Psalms. In the pages of Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, discover the richness this book of Scripture held for Bonhoeffer, and learn to pray psalms along with Christ. First published in 1940, this classic reveals how the Psalms are essential to the life of the believer and offers Bonhoeffer's reflections on psalms of thanksgiving, suffering, guilt, praise, and lament. This expanded edition features an introduction by Walter Brueggemann, excerpts from the Psalms, and a biographical sketch of Bonhoeffer.
Native America knows something about cultivating resilience and resisting darkness. Choctaw elder and Episcopal priest Steven Charleston offers words of hard-won hope, rooted in daily conversations with the Spirit and steeped in Indigenous wisdom. For all who yearn for hope, Ladder to the Light is a book of comfort, truth, and challenge in a time of anguish and fear. Night will not last forever. Together we can climb toward the light.
What does it mean to become rooted in the land? How can we become better relatives to our greatest teacher, the Earth? Becoming Rooted invites us to live out a deeply spiritual relationship with the whole community of creation and with Creator. Through meditations and ideas for reflection and action, Randy Woodley, an activist, author, scholar, and Cherokee descendant, recognized by the Keetoowah Band, guides us on a one hundred day* journey to reconnect with the Earth. In walking toward the harmony way, we honor balance, wholeness, and connection.
*From Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent) until just after Pentecost Sunday (the end of the Easter season) is one hundred days.
From master storyteller and host of On Being's Poetry Unbound, Pádraig Ó Tuama, comes an unforgettable memoir of peace and reconciliation, Celtic spirituality, belonging, and sexual identity. "It is in the shelter of each other that the people live." Drawing on this Irish saying, Ó Tuama relates ideas of shelter and welcome to our journeys of life, using poetry, story, biblical reflection, and prose to open up gentle ways of living well in a troubled world. From the heart of a poet comes a profound look at the landscapes we all try to inhabit even as we always search for shelter, a place we can call home. An instant spiritual classic in Ireland and Britain, now brought to a US readership.
For the first time, Brother Lawrence's work is translated by a woman of color and a renowned scholar who creates a dynamic, faithful translation for a new generation of readers. Carmen Acevedo Butcher frees The Practice of the Presence of God from its centuries-long prison of dogmatic, binary language and brings fresh, inclusive treatment that readers are sure to find transformational as they seek to experience God's loving presence throughout the day.
For centuries the practice of breath prayer has helped center people from a variety of faith traditions on the sacred in everyday life. Through brief words of prayer or petition said silently to the rhythm of one's breath, this simple, meditative act combines praise for the divine with focused intention, creating a profound spiritual connection in the quiet, and even mundane, moments of the day. In Breath Prayer, Christine Valters Paintner introduces us to this spiritual practice and offers beautiful poem-prayers for walking, working, dressing, cleaning, sitting in silence, doing the dishes, living in community—breathing the divine into our daily lives.
Daily we are asked to move toward bravery, to stretch in the direction of goodness, kindness, forgiveness, patience, and vulnerability. Filled with Quaker wisdom, mindfulness meditation practices, and portraits of real people living out simple yet life-affirming bravery, Hope Leans Forward is a guidebook for all of us who are on journeys of self-transformation, self-discovery, and spiritual discernment. Centering small, everyday acts of bravery with diverse stories from marginalized communities, Valerie Brown's unique perspective as a Black Buddhist Dharma teacher in the Plum Village tradition and her extensive leadership experience shepherd us in navigating life's essential questions to discover true aliveness and meaning.
Our bodies have a story to tell. When we turn toward our bodies with curiosity and reverence, we honor those stories, embrace our inner dignity, and make space for more agency. The Embodied Path tells more than twenty body stories, woven together with Ellie Roscher's own body story and insights, to do the essential work of resistance and repair at the individual and communal level. Our bodies are always talking to us, trying to get our attention. Our work is to unfold, to listen, and to claim the truth about our beautiful, storied bodies.
Known as the godfather of the civil rights movement, Howard Thurman served as a spiritual adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders and activists in the 1960s. In What Makes You Come Alive, Dr. Lerita Coleman Brown beckons readers into their own apprenticeship with Thurman. Brown walks with us through Thurman's inimitable life and commitments as he summons us into centering down, encountering the natural world, paying attention to sacred synchronicity, unleashing inner authority, and recognizing the genius of the religion of Jesus.
The ordinary moments of life can be sacred, if we simply take a moment to notice. From gifted poet and empathetic pastor Meta Herrick Carlson, Ordinary Blessings collects blessings for loving yourself, enduring hard things, authenticity, living with others, and the rhythms of each day. Pause, take a deep breath, and open these pages to find that you've been standing on holy ground all along.
The moon is out, the air has cooled, and you are ready for bed. You know that scrolling on your phone does not draw you toward sleep but adds to your worries. Power down your phone, take a breath, and begin to dim the day. In these pages, author Jennifer Grant offers gentle meditations that help you direct your gaze away from screens and uncertainties and toward the natural world. Dimming the Day guides you to focus on the wonders of God's good earth, from the ordinary head of a dandelion to the exquisite beauty of a fractal.
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