June 7, 2016
Note From Rochelle
Long before I wrote books, I was an avid reader. In the early 1990s, as I began to imagine a writing career, I started recording the books I read in a Day-Timer binder (see image on left). (And though I’m not a Luddite, I still use my old-fashioned paper system.) Soon after, I purchased a journal to use as my commonplace book. (You can see photos of my commonplace books and read some excerpts in this post from last year, “Have Hope: Life and Writing Advice from Literature.”)
Having a regular reading habit has helped me become a more-informed writer. As a writing coach, I teach writers that every good writer is first a reader. Because of this firm belief, it’s been my tradition to publish a series of #WritersRead posts every summer. As you read these posts, perhaps you’ll be inspired to start your own list of books to read!
We kick off this summer’s series of #WritersRead posts with a wonderful batch of recommendations by spiritual director Marjorie Wilbur on Spiritual Gift books. If you’d like to enter to win a copy of one of the books, learn how at the end of this post!
Happy Writing (and Reading)!
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
#WritersRead: Spiritual Gift-Books by Marjorie Wilbur
Ever since I began to read, the gifts that have delighted me most have been books. These days I enjoy receiving books on spirituality in particular. Sometimes the gift is a physical object, but it also might be a reference or recommendation. When I find a favorite, one with writing that sings, I get great pleasure from giving copies to special people in my life. I think the best books of this type are those with lots of short sections that can be picked up and savored one bit at a time providing food for reflection for the day or week. Then the gift can be opened again and again, always with a new surprise to be unwrapped.
Although many on-line blogs also offer small doses of insightful spiritual reading, I prefer to hold a real book in my hands, to scan the contents, to turn the pages, to open to a random entry. The titles I include here fit this description of spiritual gift-books.
Everyday Matters by Elise Seyfried. This compilation of brief essays describe finding meaning in the ordinary everyday-ness experienced by a mid-life woman, wife, mother, writer, church-worker. Her situations might be particular but her reflections resonate with universal feelings, honest insights and a generous helping of humor.
Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West compiled by Daniel Ladinsky, is an anthology I have given to friends after receiving the gift of some of its pieces at spiritual gatherings. Each poem has been selected to gently invite readers to encounter the Divine in the world. Among the works of Meister Eckhart, St. Francis of Assisi, Hafiz and others is the exquisite writing of Rumi the 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic: On a day/ when the wind is perfect,/ the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty./ Today is such a/ day.
I gave In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan L. Richardson to my favorite women after spending a year relishing its gorgeous writing that is part daily reflection, part poetry and part memoir. The author explores unexpected women of the past including Eve (yes, that Eve) uncovering layers of spiritual wisdom for their modern-day sisters. She ends each section with a blessing for the day. With great affection for the creative spirit of other writers, she offers:
That you will find something worth
a long devotion,
a life-long laboring,
a slow stretching of yourself
into secret places
where God watches and waits.
John Philip Newell is a scholar/minister/poet and the gentlest of teachers. His The Rebirthing of God was a 65th birthday gift from a friend who often stays with the author and his wife in Scotland. Here he engages the voices of eight prominent contemporary guides and his own story-telling to propose that God’s rebirthing in our time will come through reconnecting with the Earth, Compassion, Non-violence and Love.
The book I gave to companions in my spiritual communities last Christmas is Rhythms of Growth, 365 Meditations to Nurture the Soul by Linda Douty. The cycles of nature through the seasons shape these daily reflections with each month dedicated to a spiritual practice or recognition such as listening, grief, letting go and gratitude. These brief and always accessible messages come from a seasoned spiritual director and retreat leader. She describes spiritual journal writing as a way to “…express scattered thoughts, unthinkable questions, heretical doubts, embarrassing confessions.” Sounds familiar.
Do any of these intrigue you? While it’s exciting to receive a present, you don’t need to wait. Sometimes the best gifts are those you give yourself.
Interested in winning a copy of Everyday Matters?
About the Author. Marjorie Wilbur, who lives in the Milwaukee area, is a spiritual companion and an adjunct supervisor in the Spiritual Direction Preparation Program at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. For eleven years she served as the Executive Director of The Center to BE, an independent, inclusive spirituality center in Milwaukee. She also has had a long career as a senior executive in health care administration. She writes as a way to deepen her understanding of spirituality in everyday life, reflecting on common experiences as doorways to wisdom.
Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at https://www.writenowcoach.com.