Roger Housden is a leader of contemplative journeys in the Sahara Desert, India, and the United States. His eighth book is the most impressive and in-depth examination of the spiritual renaissance in contemporary America that I've read. He celebrates "all the ways that the human spirit of grassroots America is pushing itself up through layers of institutional concrete like so many irrepressible sunflowers."

Traveling all across the country, Housden finds individuals who put the primacy of their sacred experience over dogma. He revels in the spirit of volunteerism and the innovative ways people have found to express compassion. And he feels at one with those who cherish differences and respect interfaith dialogue. At one point, he writes: "There really is a community without walls that spreads out over the world; and I know myself to be part of that number."

The book begins at a powwow in Wyoming and ends in San Francisco where people with life-threatening illnesses are sharing their stories. Housden talks with Cistercian monks at Genesee Abbey and visits Thomas Merton's stomping grounds. He ponders the Jewish renewal movement and revels in the various permutations of Buddhism in America. Housden attends a rousing service in the African-American Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. and talks with the preacher in New York City's Lincoln Center Unity Church.

"Once you start looking for the spirit," writes the author, "it arrives in every imaginable guise and at any time." Housden is moved by Jim Wallis of the Sojourners who envisions a spiritual movement for social change that is cross-denominational. He is surprised by a mail carrier and a financial consultant who have found unique ways of manifesting spirit in their lives. Their enthusiasm is matched by deep ecologist David Abrams, seminar leader Ram Dass, Hollywood producer Barnet Bain, Sufi practitioner Abdul Aziz Said, and fundraiser Lynne Twist.

Sacred America by Roger Housden will lift your spirits and bring you a wonderful feeling of oneness with all those who are part of the great adventure of personal and societal renewal. The author salutes "that increasing communion of souls who are living their lives, not by some external dictate of creed or culture, but by the prompting of the knowing intelligent heart — the original meaning of conscience."