Between the Dark and the Daylight by Joan Chittister
I am busy at the moment embarking upon a major exercise of downsizing in preparation for my move to Sarum. This must include books! The process is illuminating. What do we attach ourselves to? All this ‘stuff’ faces me with the paradoxes and contradictions of living and even confronts me with some quite disturbing questions about attachment, loss and the inevitability of change.
This is the context within which I read this book. Some books emerge as offering us just what we might need when a life faces us with deeper questions, our frustrations and fears. We ignore this at our peril! Embracing the essential contradictoriness of life is the essence of what it might mean to flourish.
Chittister is a wise, humane and honest spiritual guide. In 32 short chapters she faces her reader with life as it is; materialism, loneliness, doubt, insecurity, failure, noise, distraction and much more. Faith offers no escape but a deeper wrestling with life. The book draws deeply upon the Christian tradition to enable and empower the search for wisdom in the geography of our loving. She describes those liminal spaces where human beings best grow with disarming common sense. Optimism is rooted deep within the soil of a realism about the journey into those darker places of what makes us hurt. In this struggle prayer lies at the heart of the transformation.
This really is an extraordinary book and no reader will be disappointed. However I am challenged to ask how far the community of the Church can live and share this wisdom when so much of its organisational life seems so unfocused and distracted. Can we recover our pastoral heart and listen more carefully to our questions and experiences? Indeed how might we work together in imaginative ways of nourishing the human spirit?
In this task Chittisher is a voice we shall want to listen to.
Reviewed by James Woodward
Special price of £12.49 in the shop (posted out for free) or £10.49 + postage from www.sarumcollegebookshop.co.uk until 3oth June 2015. RRP £13.49.