Paula D'Arcy is a writer, retreat leader, and conference leader who specializes in spirituality, teaching writing, and women's initiation and rites of passage. She is the author of many books including When People Grieve: The Power of Love in the Midst of Pain and is one of our Living Spiritual Teachers. In this fertile work rich with stories from her life and fresh insights, D'Arcy presents nine steps to the art of being present.
The first step is "Decide What Really Matters." D'Arcy recalls her own encounter with grief when her husband and daughter were killed in a car crash. She was confronted by "the power and immediacy of now." She sees the same process at work in psychologist and author Gerald May months before his death and in the experience of Greg Mortenson who realized that he couldn't continue climbing to the summit of K2 in Pakistan.
The second step is "It's Never Too Late to Start Over." Here D'Arcy shares stories from Rachel Naomi Remen, a writing group at Bedford Correctional facility in New York state, and a quotation from the book Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: "There is a way to be good again." Yes, and all it takes is one step in a new direction.
The third step is to "Align Yourself with Life: Move the Way Life Is Moving." Here the author advocates accepting the life before us like she did in a holy experience at Chartres and like Native Americans do in the sweat lodge ritual.
In the remaining chapters, D'Arcy covers other steps to being truly present in our lives. There is uplifting material on making peace with change, discovering love in simple and ordinary moments, dealing with detours and roadblocks, valuing perseverance, and finding within ourselves the courage to wake up. She includes the following quotation from theologian Howard Thurman in the last chapter:
"Something within each of us waits and listens for the sound of the genuine. If you hear it and turn away, your life will be crippled. If you hear it and turn toward it, it will free you."