Read three excerpts on mystery, love, and faith.

"I can't throw off the habits of a lifetime," Hugh Prather observes in this rewritten and augmented edition of a book originally published in 1977. "To attempt to do so is to lose ground. It's a question of which way to look. In a marathon the person in second place is usually the one who looks over his or her shoulder. So long as I am battling my immaturity, I am not allowing myself to grow up. Why become engaged with sweeping my path of old footsteps, when I can take new ones?" The author of more than 14 volumes has been a counselor for more than 30 years and is a resident minister at St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church.

Prather has sold over seven million copies of his books. What has been the secret of his success? He's able to shed light on commonplace feelings, experiences, and ideas. And although Prather's style is aphoristic, it is very personal and pointed.

Love and Courage spotlights "old values — unselfishness, loyalty, honesty, forgiveness, courage — qualities that traditionally have been thought of as the elements of good character." Prather's gift is to spark within us a sad or gladsome empathy with most of what he is saying or sensing. Then we fill in the spaces and make the aphorism our own. A few examples:

"Stands must be taken. If I am to respect myself I have to search myself for what I believe is right and take a stand on what I find. Otherwise I have not gathered together what I have been given; I have not embraced what I have learned; I lack my own conviction." In other words, taking a stand means becoming all we were meant to be.

Or: "The window is not the view; the window allows the view." How frequently we miss the point of things by mistaking the style for the content, the frame for the picture, or the container for the product.

And, last but not least: "Love, the magician, knows this little trick whereby two people walk in different directions yet always remain side by side." Love deepens and enhances our individuality.