As the summer sun bears down upon us, I turn to the ever edifying and adventuresome harvest of quotations from the books I read and recommend.

The first two are from Barbara Brown Taylor, an Anglican writer, in An Altar in the World. Here is one on the spiritual practice of attention:

"Paying attention required no equipment, no special clothes, no green fees or personal trainers. You do not even have to be in particularly good shape, all you need is a body on this earth, willing to notice where it is, trusting that something as small as a hazelnut can become an altar in this world."

I like the positivity of Taylor's self-acceptance — no expertise required, just a body on this earth — and her ability to spot and rejoice the sacramental worth of a nut. This is what I like to call a "vim and vigor" kind of spiritualty.

Taylor's imagination shines in this quote on everyday spirituality:

"Hanging laundry on the line offers you the chance to fly prayer flags disguised as bath towels and underwear."

Assa Gull Hassan is a young Muslim writer who in Red, White and Muslim challenges us to seek a more balanced life by relaxing ourselves:

"A real Sufi is always content in all circumstances: rich or poor, hot or cold, sick or healthy. To become a Sufi you must practice self-control to relax yourself, through music, concentration, or meditation. Once you can control yourself so that you do not feel the upheavals of your emotions, you can channel your positive energy and maintain an even balance. As a result, the Sufi is always happy and can call upon his or her stored energy when needed."

Next Post: Many Ways to Take