We have long been fans of Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr, two Catholic sisters whose books, retreats, and conferences on spiritual growth have inspired many people. In this wonderful devotional resource, they have brought their talents and energy together to produce an illuminating paperback on the link between the external rhythms of the four seasons and the internal movements of the soul. For them, each season is a stepping stone in a great circle of life.
Indigenous peoples have always had great respect for nature as a marvelous spiritual teacher. The Celts called the four seasons "the great round." Rupp and Wiederkehr see spring as a season of birthing, summer as one of fruitfulness, autumn as a time of surrender, and winter as a season of waiting. Nature is a "classroom for the heart," and we read in its pages "our own evolving passages from death to life." Readers will want to turn to this book with the intention of looking carefully at both the changing seasons and the cycles of spiritual growth in their own lives. Among the general pieces in the first section are a litany for the seasons, a ceremony for lighting the four season candle, observations on the storms of the natural world, and questions to link spring, summer, fall, and winter to our growing moments.
The section on spring, a time of vibrancy that unleashes our joy and wonder, includes a poem by Rupp on spring flowers, an essay by Wiederkehr on spring as a season for rising, a look at some incidents in the Gospel of John, Rupp’s childhood memories of spring, a poem by Wiederkehr on a resilient tree, plus spring blessings, meditations, celebrations, and much more. Similar elements are included for the other three seasons.
Our appreciation of this devotional work is enhanced by the wonder-inducing illustrations by Mary Southard; her enchantment with the Creation shines through her art. The Circle of Life is the perfect resource for families as well as congregational groups of all types.