Book Report: Morning Meditation Basket

As promised in my recent post (Tuesday, February 21, 2022, “Morning Meditation”), today’s Book Report shares my current morning meditation and devotion materials.

My collection of materials change as I finish reading a specific book, but also as the seasons in the church year change and as my personal needs change. However, two books always remain: the Bible and a journal. I only have a few pages left in my current journal and need to choose a replacement soon. That is on this week’s list.

Here are the other books in the basket:

  • Celtic Treasure, Daily Scriptures and Prayer by J. Philip Newell. (2005). This may be the third time I have returned to daily use of this book. Right now I am focusing on chapter five, “Songs of the Soul,” but other chapters include “Stories of Creation,” “Power and Justice,” and “Letters of Love.” Each day in the seven week cycle, begins with the same words, “We light a light in the name of the God who creates life, in the name of the Saviour who loves life, and in the name of the Spirit who is the fire of life.” After encouragement to “Be still and aware of God’s presence within and all around,” Newell retells a piece of scripture and offers a prayer. The brief and simple, but oh, so lovely daily meditation always ends in the same way.

The blessings of heaven,

the blessings of earth,

the blessings of sea and of sky.

On those we love this day

and on every human family

the gifts of heaven,

the gifts of earth,

the gifts of sea and of sky.

The illustrations from the Book of Kells plus children’s drawings are lovely, too.

This book provides a framework for my meditation practice right now. I begin with the opening prayer and readings and end with the closing words.

  • The Wild Land Within, Cultivating Wholeness through Spiritual Practice by Lisa Colon Delay (2021). I first learned about this book on Christine Valters Paintner’s website, Abbey of the Arts. The author describes the book as

an invitation to explore your own flyover country. This book serves as a companion to search the inner and unseen but very real territory of yourself. As we attend to this land within, our journey will involve some issues you may know little or nothing about. There are places of rough and even terrifying terrain. We will learn what makes spiritual growth unnecessarily difficult or extra confusing. To explore this land within means encountering climate and storms, negotiating treacherous topography, and finding creatures both wounded and wild. p. 2

Delay, who is a writer, teacher, and spiritual director and originally from Puerto Rico, broadens my white cultural context with references to Native American, Black, Latinx, and others and asks me to define what have been my main influences and how those influences have affected my spiritual growth.

In an early section Delay spends time reflecting on the four soils parable recorded in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15. I have been re-reading those pieces of scripture now myself, and using the practice of lectio divina, I ask what meaning they have for me after walking on the earth for almost 74 years. Ongoing exploration.

I am moving slowly, deliberately through this book. My plan is to read a chapter every day, but I keep returning to what I read previous days, finding more openings for learning and reflection. Chapter Five, by the way, is called “Weather Fronts,” and that seems perfect for the winter storm watch we experienced as I wrote this.

One more thing: Delay has a podcast, Spark My Muse. I have not yet listened to it, but I will.

  • The Divine Dance, The Trinity and Your Transformation by Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell (2016) It seems I always have a Richard Rohr book in my meditation basket. If I think I am reading Delay’s book slowly, I am reading this one at an slower pace. I dip into this book, reading two or three pages, when I am willing to set aside the next task.

I was first attracted to this particular book because of the cover art, the famous icon of The Trinity created by Russian iconographer Andrei Rublev in the fifteenth century. I love that icon and the mystery it draws me towards. I was also attracted to the title of the book itself.

Whatever is going on in God is a flow, a radical relatedness, a perfect communion between Three–a circle dance of love.

And God is not just a dancer; God is the dance itself. p. 27

This book will be in my basket for a long time. Oh, I also have a publication from Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation: Oneing, An Alternative Orthodoxy. Volume 9, No. 2 focuses on The Cosmic Egg.

  • Soul Therapy, The Art and Craft of Caring Conversations by Thomas Moore (2021) This is another book I dip into when the spirit moves me. Moore’s books, especially Care of the Soul, have been important landmarks in my spiritual growth. Directed towards “helpers,” including psychologists, social workers, ministers, spiritual directors and others, the book reminds me to continue my own soul work as I sit with others doing their own soul work.
  • The Making of an Old Soul, Aging as the Fulfillment of Life’s Promise by Carol Orsborn, Ph. D (2021) I have not yet cracked open the cover of this book, but I enjoy Orsborn’s blog and I really liked her earlier book The Spirituality of Age. More than likely, I will report on this book later.

My basket runneth over!!

An Invitation: What books or other materials do you turn to for reflection and soul work? I would love to know.

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