"Prayer, on my good days, is how I breathe. It's listening, as much as whispering. It takes the wobble out of my knees and puts the wallop into my heart's beat. It's woven into the hours, from cock's crow until the moment my eyelids finally flutter closed for the day. It unspools without measure or meter. It might be a geyser. Or merely a murmer."

— Barbara Mahany

Talk about lyrical and spirited writing! This collection of imaginative meditations was written by Barbara Mahany, who was a reporter and feature writer at The Chicago Tribune for nearly 30 years. She has a knack for discerning spiritual meaning in everyday rituals and routines.
Her first book Slowing Time: Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door has been called "a field guide into the depths of your holiest hours."

"Perhaps you already believe, as I do, that prayer is the hundred thousand little acts of kindness, of hope, of selflessness we stitch into the day. It's stirring porridge on a cold winter's morning for those we love, still nestled in beds. Delivering a piping-hot casserole, or a store-bought cake, to a lonely neighbor. Prayer is tucking a little one into bed. Talking over the long, hard day at the kitchen counter. Prayer is rolling up your sleeves and scrubbing a sick friend's bathroom floor. Prayer is at its glorious best when we soar beyond words. It's what we do and how we breathe."

— Barbara Mahany

Brother Lawrence reminds us that prayer is practicing the presence of God, but Mahany assures us that our loving comes through deeds.

Who is the person whose love models the gracious, patient, and enduring love of the Creator of the Universe? Who is the person whose caring and compassion, kindness and good will sustained us in childhood and youth? Who is the person whose faith enables her to walk in the dark and to persevere in the struggle to survive?

The answer to these three questions is: motherlove. She prays in daily actions that go far beyond words to inhabit our hearts.

While men are praised for their courage in war and their bravery in battle, why not lift up and salute the same qualities enacted by mom on the homefront and in the marketplace?

"It is courage — the hot wind of heaven that fuels our trembling wings.

"It is courage — that makes us reach down deep and pull out muscle where we never knew we had it. It is where the backbone is. It's where, when we need to, we find the voice that speaks up, that won't relent, that settles only in solid resolution.

"We are charged with much in this lifelong journey called mothering.

"The one piece of armament sure to go the distance is the unfettered, unadorned, magnificent holy breath called Mother Courage."

— Barbara Mahany

Throughout this field guide to motherhood, Mahany celebrates the art of paying close attention, whether sewing or doing those tedious chores that keep stacking up. She also takes to heart the dark nights of the soul, such as the death of her unborn baby.

Before becoming a journalist, Mahany was a pediatric oncology nurse which provided her with a sober curriculum on the mysteries of life and death. She has carried these seeds in her consciousness, and they move quietly through these pages.

"I think often — expend a bumper crop of brain cells — on the subject of growing kids. It's a religion to me, the holiest sort. It matters more than anything else I will ever do. Closest thing to curing cancer. Because it boils down to taking the heart and soul you've been handed and tenderly, wisely filling both with light. Considering them stealth missiles of planetary illumination. The answers to a Peace Prize prayer.

"Oh sure, the darkness will come. We can't keep that at bay. But we can give the gift of buoyancy. We can keep the boing in the human spirit. The bounce-back machine that takes the wallops and rights itself again.

"There's not a creature on the globe who wouldn't pray to be loved deep and pure and forever after. It's the highest hope of all creation."

— Barbara Mahany

We have only scratched the surface of this spiritually rich book about the blessings of motherhood and other lessons in living. Mahany is very close to her two sons who provide her with ample teaching moments. She and her husband have an interfaith marriage; she is Catholic and he is Jewish.

These meditations deliver an intimacy that is a treasure. That is only one of the reasons why this book deserves to be read aloud by mothers and fathers and other family members.

And we haven't even talked about Mahney's "sawdust days dry and rough and shaved into crumbles" or marveled over the recipes she shares on beautifully designed pages.

Motherprayer: Lessons in Loving is a classic in everyday spirituality and immediately enters the select circle of one of the Best Spiritual Books of 2017.