Saturday, June 13, 2015

Soul of a Pilgrim

It is customary to have finished reading a book before writing a review. But having traversed this book line by line, cover to cover, I am sure that I have not finished reading yet - this is one of those books that needs to be ‘absorbed’ rather than simply read. Christine Valters Painter describes the pilgrimage of life as more like a spiral than a linear journey. And so it is with this book; there is something to be found within whether one might be on the first, or the twenty-first, loop in the the spiral.

The book describes eight practices to help the pilgrim on the road. Don’t worry, these are not eight ‘disciplines’ designed to break the back of those with a less than iron will - think of ‘attitudes’ that need to be nurtured and grown. We don’t need to come to this book already ‘perfected’. Rather we come as learners, ready to traverse the spiral as many times as it takes.
The sixth practice is one that I especially liked - “the practice of beginning again”. Stumbling and failure are a part of the journey, but always we begin again. However, regardless of whether we consider a part of our journey to have been a success or a failure, the nature of the spiral is that we will pass this way again. Each time we need to come again as beginners, without preconceived ideas of our competence or incompetence.
Christine’s voice is not the only one you will find in this book. There are contributions from her husband, John and from an eclectic mix of other pilgrims with a story to tell. This is not a ‘preachy’ book nor, despite the eight practices, is it a formula. Rather it is a thoughtful, and thought provoking, look at the spiritual side of a journey that we each have to make and the attitudes that might serve us well on the way.

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