Embracing the Mystery: The Sacred Unfolding in Ordinary People and Everyday Lives

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Topics: Spiritual Exploration & Practice. Ages: Adult. Resource Types: Books.

Review & Commentary

One thought on “Embracing the Mystery: The Sacred Unfolding in Ordinary People and Everyday Lives

  1. Review

    The traditional and dominant way of thinking about the relationship of God to the world found in contemporary Christianity is supernatural theism. God is a “person-like being” “up in heaven” who takes a personal interest in us and occasionally intervenes in our lives and in the world. There is however, an emerging way of thinking of God’s relationship to the world, with ancient roots in the Wisdom traditions, called panentheism, which thinks of God as “the encompassing Spirit” in “whom we live and move and have our being.” Rather than understanding God as intervening from time to time in our lives and in the world, this way of thinking understands God as present within our everyday lives at all times.

    In the introduction to her book, the author, a lifelong member of the Church and a psychotherapist for twenty years, shares the of development of her understanding of God. Early in her life she was “startled” to discover that, in her own experience, supernatural theism “departed wildly” from her personal experience of “That Which Is Sacred.” She writes, “I adopted a belief that God is more mysterious than I could ever understand and began to address God simply as Mystery.” Part of the problem is that words are necessary to describe and explain the nature and character of God, but words can also “limit our grasp of God’s complexity.” She suggests, therefore, that it “is our spiritual mandate to wait for God to tell us who – or what – God is.”

    She shares with the reader that she has spent the “last dozen years of her life quietly paying attention to what’s right in front of me, revealing something about the nature of spiritual reality.” She writes, that “The stories in this book reflect some of those life-changing moments and offer up many of the questions that pursued me in the simple process of paying attention.” For many years she has been gathering stories, “of love and loss, stories of strength and weakness, stories of faith and despair, stories of trust grown and trust broken. Stories told from the hearts of people at their best and worst junctures.” She began writing the stories as “inspirational letters” which were sent to participants in a research project. The recipients so appreciated the letters that they forwarded them to friends and family nationwide. Soon she discovered that the people who received them were using them to examine and challenge their lives and they asked her to “ publish them as a collection of short stories so others who were struggling to develop a relationship with the Mystery, to discern and follow their own instructions, would be sustained in what is often an arduous trek.”

    This unique book is comprised of forty memorable stories. Since I recently received the book for review, I have not read all of the stories. I have found it rewarding to read one a day, then reflect and meditate on the questions found at the end of each. In all of the stories, I have been reminded of encounters with the Sacred which I have known or known about from other people. And in some of the stories, I have encountered the Mystery revealing “dimensions of depth” in my life which had been hidden by the busyness of everyday.

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