In these hectic and harried times, we find ourselves "deluged with surround-sound violence and sexuality, sucked downstream by materialism and marketing, pushed along with hurried schedules and instant communication as we live as electronic nodes on an information superhighway. The U.S. military has an acronym for this intensity we're in the midst of: 'VUCA,' which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. In the face of all this, it may be hard to avoid becoming dizzy or numb, drugged or distracted, angry or quietly desperate." So writes Tobin Hart, a professor, psychologist, speaker and author of The Secret Spiritual World of Children. He serves as professor of psychology at the University of West Georgia, as well as co-founder and president of the ChildSpirit Institute, a nonprofit educational and research hub exploring the spirituality of children and adults.

Hart has searched what he calls the scattered brotherhood and sisterhood of wise souls, the wisdom traditions, and contemporary science to find virtues which can serve as a field guide to the inner life. They are not the path but serve as a compass showing us the way to a richer and fuller life of meaning.

He begins by considering beauty, which takes our breath away when it shines through works of art, movies, science, nature, and moral acts. Hart quotes C. S. Lewis who said: "We do not want merely to see beauty. . . . We want something else that can hardly be put into words — to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it." It is this understanding of beauty that links it with the virtue of presence — refining the senses, focusing, and witnessing the mind. We are open to receive the beauty that permeates the world and our varied experiences of it.

The heart provides access to the good and enables us to express our deepest feelings through passion and compassion. Being tuned in and sensitive to the needs of others leads to an empathetic style of knowing; Thomas Berry called this seeing the world as a communion of subjects rather than merely a collection of objects. The author believes we are hardwired to connect with others, and that is why contact with others is so important as a practice of the heart.

Hart covers a lot of territory under the umbrella of wisdom where he discusses the true, possibility, guidance, clarifying, and discerning. In this section, he has some fascinating things to say about questions, mindful awareness, a second knowing, and the art of pondering.

The final virtue is creation which leads us into new adventures and enables us to develop a creative voice and expression that is uniquely our own. Creation is seeded in the imagination and its advocacy of originality and calling.