In the introduction to this collection of essays, Scott Russell Sanders pinpoints his interest in fashioning "a life that is firmly grounded in household and community, in awareness of nature, and in contact with that source from which all things arise." He writes: "Only by understanding where I live can I learn how to live."
The author lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and has resided in the same house with his family for 20 years. He argues that the myth of being footloose and fancy-free has captured the consciousness of far too many people. He prefers to celebrate "the virtue and discipline of staying put."
In one leisurely essay, Sanders shows how a house becomes a home. He feels wedded to his dwelling as he attends to its almost constant need for repairs. Reading this piece, we sense how the author has invested each square inch of his home with soul and tender loving care.
Sanders is not alone in his emphasis upon fidelity to a place. He quotes from works by Gary Snyder, Wendell Berry, Bruce Chatwin, Aldo Leopold, and Barry Lopez who have all written about cherishing and knowing intimately a particular spot on earth.
In the last two essays, Sanders draws a link between memory and place. We can learn from ancient peoples that "a sacred landscape does flicker and flame within the physical one." Sanders challenges us to savor the myths and stories that acknowledge the holiness of the ground on which we walk.
Then, to give flesh to his ideal, the author spends two hours in an Ohio neighborhood he knew as a boy, recalling vividly seven mysteries death, life, animals, food, mind, sex, and God connected with the place. Sanders brings it all together in this masterful essay which unites place, memory, imagination, mystery, and soul into an epiphanous whole. Bravo! Staying Put is one of the best spiritual resources of the 1990s.