We live in a time of widespread spiritual questing as individuals from all walks of life seek to understand, appreciate, and reverence the mysteries of God and human nature. The good Earth serves as the stage for these movements of the heart and the soul. So it is appropriate that the month of June, the transition between spring and summer when blooms abound, be the time when we look at a large garden of spiritual memoirs.

Reading about the lives of other people is a beautiful practice of openness and empathy for our own spiritual journeys. We learn from others who are struggling with the challenges of faith, dealing with the exigencies of doubt, and wrestling with their consciences. We identify with the vulnerability and the fragility of those who are waylaid by chronic disease and onerous operations. We cheer them on as they courageously face their demons and find comfort and solidarity within communities that nourish their souls.

Spiritual memoirs are medicine for us, especially in these hard times where many old habits, mindsets, and ways of acting no longer serve us well as we seek to connect with the Source of Life. We've collected a selection from our archive of book reviews and excerpts, and we'll be unveiling one a day for June. We have found a bracing mix of male and female writers from a variety of spiritual paths and religions.

James Boswell, the biographer of Samuel Johnson said of his approach: "In every picture there should be shade as well as light." We agree and urge you to consider this month these benefits of examining the lives of others in spiritual memoirs:

  • They help us to see the connections which bind us together with all those on a spiritual journey.
  • Their experiences serve as spiritual teachings for us as we open to receive what has been given to us.
  • They help us identify the patterns and turning points which have punctuated our own spiritual growth.
  • They give us a context in which to see how others have dealt with change, love, loss, success, failure, suffering and death.
  • They increase our appreciation of the irrational elements of our behavior and give us edifying glimpses of our shadow sides.
  • They provide emotional workouts for us and exercise our feelings so that we can become more compassionate and empathetic human beings.
  • They throw open our hearts in moments when we are mysteriously moved by peace, joy, play, gratitude, laughter, or tears.
  • They enhance our awareness of the paradoxes and ambiguities of sacred relationships of all types.
  • They help us to become more alert to the diversity of our culture and the unity that we share with others.
  • They teach us that life is not a problem to be solved but a spiritual adventure to be experienced in the fullest.

  1. Elizabeth J. Andrew
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  2. Ken Arnold
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  3. Karen Armstrong
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  4. Robert Benson
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  5. Frederick Buechner
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  6. James Carroll
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  7. Ram Dass
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  8. Gregory Doyle
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  9. Gretel Ehrlich
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  10. Nora Gallagher
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  11. Gangaji
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  12. Patricia Hampl
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  13. Asma Gull Hasan
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  14. Robert A. Johnson
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  15. Ted Kooser
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  16. Marilyn Lacey
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  17. Anne Lamott
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  18. Karen Maezen Miller
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  19. Heidi Neumark
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  20. Wes "Scoop" Nisker
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  21. Kathleen Norris
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  22. Mary Rose O'Reilley
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  23. Eboo Patel
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  24. Brenda Peterson
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  25. Scott Russell Sanders
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  26. Lewis B. Smedes
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  27. Huston Smith
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  28. Mary Swander
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  29. Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
    Memoir
    Excerpt
  30. Lauren F. Winner
    Memoir
    Excerpt