Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Book Review

January 2, 2022

“David Steindl-Rast, one of our Living Spiritual Teachers, is the author of many books and the founder/adviser to the worldwide ‘Network for Grateful Living’ that comes together at the interactive website, a sister site of Spirituality & Practice. The 15 essays in this paperback—previously published articles, interviews, and transcripts of talks—cover 30 years in the development of his common sense spirituality. They explore three essential themes:

• Our Peak or Mystical Experiences

• The Sacred Traditions that Are Expressions of Our Spirituality

• Our Response to Our Spiritual Experiences

In her introduction to this collection, Joan Chittister commends David Steindl-Rast for giving substance to faith and reason for hope: ‘He refuses to be obscure. He resists being dogmatic. He disdains being simplistic. He is unwilling to be obscurantist. He himself is the epitome of “common sense spirituality.”‘

Steindl-Rast offers us a rich and deep take on spirituality. He writes about the vibrancy of true aliveness in everyday life; he suggests ways to bring out ‘the monk in us’; he ponders the delights provided by the link between art and the sacred; he reveals the benefits of living a sacramental life; he probes the mystical core of organized religion; he affirms the integration of shadow in Christianity; he explores the value of learning to die; and he revels in the spiritual practices of hope and gratitude. This paperback delivers on its promise of sharing the essential wisdom of David Steindl-Rast. Here are two examples:

On Play
‘Leisure is doing your work—doing anything you do—with the attitude of play. That means bringing to the moment at hand what is most important about playing, namely, that you do it for its own sake and not just to get it done. The monastic attitude is to do anything we do with wholehearted attention—with openness to meaning.’

On Hope
‘To have hope is not to seek the surprise of a Hollywood happy ending, which is unrealistic optimism. To have hope is to remain open to the possibility of surprise when everything turns out worse than we could ever imagine. Despair assigns reality a deadline, whereas hope knows that there are no deadlines. This is how hope truly thrives in the midst of hopelessness.'”

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