Into the Foothills of Transformation by Donald Eadie
I do not know Donald Eadie well but as a result of this very remarkable, challenging and generative book this reader has and others will, get to know him better.
So what do we discover about this man? A father, husband who has lived in and through the experience of being adopted. A Methodist minister and leader who has had his ‘taught’ theology put to the test in ways that lie almost beyond our imaginings. A human being living with degenerative disc disease who has faced the loss of role and identity through an enforced retirement. A man living with vulnerability and searching for life within old age and the ever present possibility of death. All of these human fragilities and paradoxes are opened up for any reader who is prepared to feel differently and be moved into different places of perception. Be absolutely sure of one thing – in these pages you will find profound discomfort as we ( Donald’s readers ) are asked by the gentlest of storytellers to reshape our seeing and sense of what human flourishing means in heart, head and hand. Be prepared to be turned around by Donald’s fragments of human and theological reflection into the possibility of new places and so surprising moments of completeness and joy. Liminality, powerlessness, honesty, boundedness and fragility are key elements, fundamental necessities in this transformation.
Seven sections offer clusters of reflection drawing upon a wide range of sources ( sermons, letters, Scripture, poetry, journal entries and life experience ) exploring what it means to be human, what it means to celebrate identity in the face of adoption, what it means to live with pain, what possibilities emerge when we encounter difference and how we need to learn to hand over and let go. Through all of these sections, carefully organised we are enriched by poetry and this feeds into the offering of liturgical resources at the end the book. Offering, holding and intercession undergird the quality of Donald’s sharing the intimacies of his life story.
In an ecclesial economy where control, anxiety and superficiality dominate Into the Foothills offers a different kind of spiritual economy and part of its strength is its deep and challenging discomfort. There are no easy answers. Pain and vulnerability are part of our human lot – albeit distributed with extraordinary inequality – and if we are to grow and flourish then how we handle these realities is fundamental to any aspiration to live well. Not entirely easy to follow. Certainly not to be read in one sitting I promise you that you will find companionship, comfort and hope through these pages. While Goose publications are to be congratulated on taking a risk with this text. It is to be hoped that it will find a way into study groups, formational training for ministry, spiritual accompaniers and indeed anyone who believes there called to lead and manage and facilitate others.
Reviewed by Canon James Woodward, Principal of Sarum College.
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