In the late Middle Ages, the Catholic Church created the Book of Hours for ordinary men and women. By ritualizing meditation, the intent was to make holy the hours of the day. Each 24-hour period is divided into eight periods that bring together the inner and the outer worlds. Jan Phillips was born a Catholic and was a nun, but she moved on to become a prolific author (Marry Your Muse, Divining the Body) and renowned photographer. She is cofounder and Executive Director of the Livingkindness Foundation, a global network of grassroots philanthropists transforming creative potential into compassionate action.
In this out-of-the-box imaginative work, Phillips blends creativity, mysticism, consciousness raising, and spiritual practice into startling and illuminating new configurations. She has retooled the Book of Hours for "people conscious of their power and ready to co-create new sacraments and ceremonies that celebrate the Divine dwelling within us. It is a handbook for people committed to justice, peacemaking and spiritual integrity who are eager to evolve themselves spiritually and creatively."
Phillips sees this paperback as "a holy book, full of reverence, praise, lamentations, and songs." Along with prayers and reflections, there are many poems by the author which add yet another emotional dimension to this Book of Hours. We appreciated the thoughtful selection of quotations as a final sign of the sweep and magnitude of this project.
The author shares wisdom from her own life, the world's religions, and many well-known spiritual masters. Here are some of the topics she covers: the actualization of our own divinity, the art of spiritual maturation, the need for silence and stillness, our longing for connection with others, the shock of disasters, taking up our calling as co-creators with God, the mastery of evil, non-duality, and the artist's creed. Here's part of what she writes about preparing for the Sacrament of Holy Unity:
"I want a choir of Chinese peasants, Israeli kindergartners, Japanese Bonsai masters, Navajo weavers, Zuni potters, Tlingit totem pole makers, and African diamond miners.
"Once assembled, we will celebrate the sacrament that contains them all.
We will sing till the earth wobbles in her orbit,
give praise and thanks till wine runs from the sugar maple.
We will bow to the holiness we see in each other
forgiving the past, blessing the present,
committing to a future that is good for everyone.
And this will be the sacrament of Holy Unity
a welcome to the dawning of an Uncommon Era."