Gunilla Norris is a meditation teacher and psychotherapist in private practice. She has written six exquisite books on everyday spirituality with many approaches to prayer, silence, attentiveness, and being present. In this one Norris seeks the Sacred with our bodies, in our dwellings, with our every-day things, and in our gratitude.
"What does it mean to wonder? It means to fully experience without mental conclusions. To wonder is open-ended and full of attention. It allows for fresh nuances, even when we seem to experience the same thing many times. To wonder is to be alive with curiosity and spaciousness and with such courtesy toward the given that it has the chance to become a gift to us. It also invites us to give ourselves back to life and so paradoxically to receive more abundantly."
We inch toward the Sacred when we accept bodies and explore the world of our senses. Breathing, walking, or sleeping are pathways to a closer connection with the Divine. In another section, Norris considers the spiritual hints and clues in our dwellings with meditations on the door, the floor, the wall, the staircase, the roof, the window, and the hearth.
In a section on With Our Every-day Things, Norris observes in a meditation:
"Could we enjoy a cup and really drink from it?
Could we peacefully clear our tables and our minds?
Could we linger with ordinary objects
and discover the prayer in them?
Objects in themselves have integrity.
We seem to think so when we send them in the mail
Handle with Care, our packages say."
What a felicitous phrase, handle with care. It could become a mantra during housekeeping chores or a cue to savor the possessions we have not touched or admired for a while. Norris reframes a clothespin as two pieces of wood and a spring that holds something fast. She challenges us to see this object as an icon and to ponder the spiritual challenge of holding two truths in balance.
In the last section on living in gratitude, Norris wants us to openly take in all the blessings of the day. She writes about receiving nature, our daily bread, relationships, our daily round, challenges, opportunities, and the gift of being. Norris concludes:
"There are prayers all around us. They are close at hand. We can select a few objects to help us remember ourselves into the presence of the holy, and allow them to become companions on the way."
Everything in Simple Ways conspires to help us understand and practice praying in all ways.