Regina Sara Ryan, a former Roman Catholic nun, has aligned her spiritual practice and education over the past 13 years with the Bauls of Bengal, India, an ecstatic sect of singers and dancers "whose poetry exalts the Divine Beloved who dwells in each heart." In this eclectic and spiritually adventuresome work, the author celebrates her encounters with remarkable women who have been ravished by the Divine Feminine. The book is structured around 12 different paths that embrace both contemplation and action, including the paths of annihilation, waiting and surrender, compassion, art and inspiration, service, and devotion.
Among the visionaries, saints, activists, healers, and artists covered here are the Sufi master Irina Tweedie; Zen teacher and anthropologist Joan Halifax; contemplative Christian monk Tessa Bielecki; German healer and mystic Dina Rees; artist Meinrad Craighead; Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, who works with the dying; and Mother Majee, a holy madwoman and beggar who lived with dogs and reflected the Divine Mother.
One of the most appealing aspects of this wide-ranging work is Regina Sara Ryan's deep ecumenism. Also evident is her respect for the spiritual practices of beauty, compassion, devotion, hospitality, love, nurturing, silence, and teachers. This sturdy and substantive volume reveals the important role women are playing in the present-day spiritual renaissance.