J. Brent Bill, profiled in S&P's Living Spiritual Teachers Project, is a Quaker minister, retreat leader, and photographer who has an abiding passion for the wonders of silence, questions that take us to deep places in ourselves, the art of listening, and the importance of the spiritual process of discernment. He explored these interests in his books Holy Silence, Mind the Light, Sacred Compass, and Awaken Your Senses.

Bill begins this book with a query: "Are you living the abundant life?" Many Americans might address this question from the perspective of consumerism or competitive capitalism where the winner is the one with the most toys. But this Quaker takes another road. We are recipients of the abundant life when we get in sync with "the ideals of beauty, truth, life, and love."

Often we are so busy and diverted that we miss the siren call of beauty. For Bill it arrives in an intoxicating experience of the opera Tosca. Others may be enchanted by falling snow, a meaningful movie, or an astonishing dance. That is why he agrees with Richard C. Cabot who has written: "Whenever beauty overwhelms us, whenever wonder silences our chattering hopes and worries, we are close to worship."

Bill makes a good case for living a beautiful faith and then moves on to more abstract and unwieldy ideals such as truth ("living in utter rightness"), life ("vim, vigor, and vivacity"), and love ("being directed by heart"). With a resilience that is all his own, the author gets back on an inspiring track when he waxes poetic about the adventure we can all have as we bring more beauty, truth, life and love into our lives. He lifts up the example of Brother Lawrence who showed us that every activity, even kitchen chores, can unite us with God. He then describes the weaving of a tapestry as an analogy for the creation of a meaningful life. (See excerpt.)