This time of year I like to be even more mindful that usual of all of the blessings in my life. And I am blessed with extraordinary friends. Some of these friends bless me doubly and triply because they are also my teachers. Each has a body of inspiring and provocative work and I’d like to share some of my favorites with you.
All of these would make great holiday gifts for others or you may hint to others you would like some of these for yourself.
My wonderful friend, teacher and author, Caroline Myss has written many wonderful books but I especially love her recordings. Unless you’ve been at some of Caroline’s recording sessions, you may not know that she doesn’t read from a text. Although she prepares in advance, she speaks ex tempore. This gives immediacy and intimacy to the recordings that puts her right in the room with me.
I first discovered Caroline and her work when I was diagnosed with cancer and came across her recording of “Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can.” The wisdom in that recording has guided me through 17 years of cancer treatments.
My personal favorite of all of Caroline’s recordings is “Spiritual Madness.” I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to it, but I always find something new with every listening.
A wonderful companion to “Spiritual Madness” is the lesser known “Your Primal Nature.” It’s fascinating.
All of these are available at www.SoundsTrue.com and Amazon/Audible
I’ve known Mark Matousek since he was sixteen years old and was around him a great deal until he went away to school. He chronicles this part of his life in “Sex, Death, Enlightenment” one of the finest spiritual memoirs I’ve ever read. The follow-up memoir, “The Boy He Left Behind,” avoids the sophomore slump of many writers, and is, if anything, even richer than the first book. I have a particular bias toward his book, “When You’re Falling, Dive: Lessons in the Art of Living,” because I’m interviewed in it and that the interview put me in the company of Joan Didion, David Steindl-Rast, Dr. Rachel Remen and Bill McKibben.
Mark is also an exceptional teacher. He regularly offers a six-week on-line course called “Writing As a Spiritual Practice” and he’s just released a seven-part audio course called “What’s Your Story.” To find out more about Mark and his work visit him at www.markmatousek.com
Wilkie Au is a spiritual director’s spiritual director. I can say this with certainty because I have been blessed to have Wilkie as my spiritual director for over fifteen years. Alone, and with his wife, Jungian analyst and spiritual director, Noreen Cannon Au, Wilkie has written a quintet of invaluable spiritual guides, each of which focuses on a specific quality of developing a richer spiritual life and practice. If you are unfamiliar with their work, the two books I most recommend are “The Enduring Heart: Spirituality for the Long Haul” and “The Grateful Heart.” The former is a reassuring reminder that the essence of spiritual life is, like marriage, relationship. The latter is an activist’s handbook for living a life rooted in and committed to gratitude. For more information visit: http://wilkieandnoreenau.com/
Ellen Gunter is a woman on fire. She’s a prophet and gadfly. Her book, “Earth Calling” is an impassioned education and wake-up call about the multiple environmental crises that threaten the planet. What sets her book apart is that on every page you are reminded how much Ellen loves the earth. This book isn’t just good science, it’s a love letter. The book is available on Amazon.
Father Richard Rohr, OFM, is so prolific, it’s hard to settle on just a few recommendations. If you are unfamiliar with his work his three volumes of daily meditations—excerpts drawn from his books, articles, sermons and workshops—are like mini-anthologies which are wonderful in themselves or may guide you toward one or another of his complete works. The three anthologies are “Radical Grace,” “Yes . . .And,” and “On the Threshold of Transformation: Daily Meditations for Men.”
Among Father Richard’s audios, I particularly like “True Self, False Self” and “Great Themes of Paul” (Richard’s series on Paul provides compelling evidence that Paul is a great mystic whose writings have interpreted literally and damagingly. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I fell in love with the St. Paul revealed in these recordings. www.cac.org
James Finley was one of my teachers when I was training to be a spiritual director and became a colleague when we taught together at CMED.* I don’t know that there is any substitute for encountering James Finley in person. If you ever have the chance to spend a day, a weekend or a week in his company, sign up immediately. To find out about his retreat schedule check his website: http://contemplativeway.org/ . His book “Merton and the Palace of Nowhere” is a contemporary classic and essential reading for anyone interested in a deeper understanding of Thomas Merton’s teaching. James has collaborated on audio books and recorded seminars with both Caroline Myss and Richard Rohr. You can find them at either www.soundstrue.org or www.cac.org Ally of them provide rich material for reflection and contemplation.
Happy Reading! Happy Listening!