The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat's reviews are available on the Web. For more information on something reviewed in this column, visit www.SpiritualityHealth.com. More than 4,000 reviews exist in the database, and new ones are added every Friday.


A Hidden Wholeness
by Parker J. Palmer ties together the core themes of 40 years of his work (including Let Your Life Speak and The Courage to Teach): The shape of the integral life, the meaning of community, teaching and learning for transformation, and the importance of nonviolent social change. Palmer, a Quaker, observes that many adults are living a "divided life." They've lost touch with their souls and conceal their true identity from others, refusing to invest themselves fully in their work or relationships. This problem not only brings them heartbreak but also diminishes the vitality of communities. Palmer notes that we can tap into "a hidden wholeness" that embraces the brokenness of our lives and the flaws in those around us and society in general.

We need both solitude and community to do the inner work necessary to thrive. One valuable practice is participating in circles of trust, small groups committed to helping each other discern using such techniques as deep listening, asking open and honest questions, and honoring silence. This is a rich and accessible book for all who want to nurture their souls in community (Jossey-Bass).


Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time
is a meditative 90-minute documentary by Thomas Riedelsheimer about the Scottish artist who makes "sense-luscious" sculptures entirely out of things he finds in nature — stones, twigs, leaves, plant stalks, clay, ice, snow. Goldsworthy is seen making sculptures as he explains his philosophy that brings together a Zen-like appreciation of the natural world, a deeply felt connection with the Earth and all its thousand things, a fascination with time and the ephemeral existence of objects, a respect for place and all the marvels discovered within a space that one knows intimately, and a yearning to explore the energy that is running through the landscape.

Sometimes his works change before our eyes and even pass away before we have savored all their mystery and magic. But to the artist, this is all part of the process. In Nova Scotia, he makes a sculpture out of icicles. As the sun illuminates it, he notes: "The very thing that brought it to life, will bring about its death." He creates an igloo out of driftwood collected from the beach. When the tide comes in, the structure drifts out to sea in a slow swirl. Goldsworthy says: "It feels as if it's been taken off into another plane, another world. It
doesn't feel at all like destruction." The artist isn't attached to his work, nor does he think in terms of success or failure. To Goldsworthy, what's important is that the creative process has been manifested along with an intimate meeting with "the heart of the place."

With his child-like curiosity, he is a teacher of the spiritual practices of mystery, play, reverence. He accepts that everything is ephemeral and subject to the ravages of time (Docurama, Not Rated).


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February issue


Embracing diversity