"Diversity is the perfection of the universe," the venerable thirteenth-century monk Thomas Aquinas said. Although spirituality has flourished for centuries within monasteries and in the devotional lives of mystics (Christians, Jews, and Muslims), it really came of age over the past 25 years with the release of a deluge of books and other resources for those on a spiritual journey. In his opening essay in this anthology, Allan Hugh Cole, Jr., an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church and Academic Dean and the Nancy Taylor Professor of Pastoral Care at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, uses two baptisms, his belief in the Holy Spirit, and his feeling of being a kindred spirit with Wendell Berry as signs of his preference of religion over spirituality, which he finds too abstract and not grounded enough for him.
As the editor of this volume, Coles has asked 24 writers to muse over the understandings and practices of their spiritual lives and divided them into poets, prophets, and preachers. Some of the most interesting essays are novelist Gail Godwin musing on the spiritual life; writer Greg Garrett on the spiritual nature of creating stories and then taking the wise counsel of the Divine Editor; Marjorie Thompson's practice of cultivating holy habits of the heart; Elizabeth Liebert's use of poetry as a spur to her spiritual life; Ismael Garcia's three elements of a spirit-full life; Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger's self-empathy as a Christian spiritual practice; and Stephanie Paulsell's meditation on the spiritual intent of St. Therese's "little way."