Lately, I have been enriched and empowered by the reading of several excellent books. Over the course of time, I hope to share some of the most moving and meaningful insights they have offered. I also intend to revamp the look and feel of this site soon to include other resources and information such as a listing of books I feel have made a difference in my life and might likewise be useful to others. But for now, I will just tell you that the two books that have truly meant the most and actually been life changing for me lately are “Anam Cara - A Book of Celtic Wisdom”, by John O’Donohue and “A Hidden Wholeness” by Parker J. Palmer.
You are familiar, I am sure, with the feeling you get when something just jumps right out of the page and speaks directly to your soul. You feel it physically almost as if you were sort of punched in the solar plexus. Even as your breath is taken away, goose bumps begin to cover your body and it all happens in an instant. You know what I mean, right? It is as though the words are a song, and you alone have recognized the tune.
Then what do you do? Well, if you are anything like me, you grab your highlighter and your pen to mark that line and make additional notes. You don’t ever want to forget that passage and how your soul felt when it first heard it. And pretty soon, that special book is annotated, highlighted, dogeared, and sleeping right next to you in the bed at night!
And so it was for me with the books I just mentioned. As a priest friend of mine said of one of them, I just drank them in!! I lean a little toward the Anam Cara as the absolute number one and I will definitely go into it with you down the road but today I want to mention something from the other one in hopes that it may resonate with you in the same way it did me because it deals with devastation.
Thomas Merton (one of my favorite spiritual masters) has said that, “there is in all things…a hidden wholeness” but for those of us who have suffered a painful loss, this may seem like wishful thinking, says the book. Boy, I can sure identify with that!! It seems to me that almost everyday I am reminded of the fact that I am no longer “whole”. I find myself jealous of people who are as I am sure that I will never experience that feeling again. But the book goes on to say the following as it relates the author’s experience of revisiting his favorite wilderness area for the first time after a raging fire….
"I was heartbroken by the ruin and wondered whether I wanted to return. And yet on each visit since, I have been astonished to see how nature uses devastation to stimulate new growth, slowly but persistently healing her own wounds.
Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. Knowing this gives me hope that human wholeness — mine, yours, ours—need not be a utopian dream, if we can use devastation as a seedbed for new life.”
So I am asking you to embrace your brokenness; think of nature and how new growth follows devastation and see how it can do just that with you. Find your seedbed for new life. No, you won’t ever be the same but the new you will be given new gifts, new goals and a new path to follow as you find and use them. Try to honor the new you and as you do so, may you be blessed and filled with love and kindness.