Joan Chittister, a leading voice in contemporary spirituality for more than 30 years, is the author of more than 40 books. She has received numerous honors for her work on behalf of peace, human rights, women's issues, and church renewal. She is a member of the Benedictine Sisters and profiled on our Spirituality and Practice website as a Living Spiritual Teacher. In this brief but soul-stirring paperback, Chittister shares 40 stories from a variety of religions and wisdom traditions. In addition, the reader will find a meditation, a Scriptural passage, and a space at the end of each chapter for a photo, quotation, or poem that relates to the theme. As editor Mary Lou Kownacki states in the introduction:
"A good story is a treasure worth selling all one owns to possess. It can shake us by the roots, make us rethink old truths, paste large questions in our sky, inspire us to reach for what we cannot."
Chittister begins with a story by the human rights storyteller and author Eduardo Galeano about a little girl visiting her imprisoned father and bringing a drawing of birds. It is destroyed by the guards who forbid pictures of birds. Defiantly she brings another of her drawings this time of trees. Her father asks whether the orange circles in the trees are oranges. She whispers in his ear: "Don't you see they are eyes? They're the eyes of the birds that I've smuggled in for you." Beauty is subversive and can provide light and enlightenment to all those who see and value its sacred powers.
We also liked the following story:
" 'What would you say to a close friend who is about to die?' Jiddu Krishnamurti asked a small group of listeners. The answers dealt with assurances, words about beginnings and endings, and various gestures of compassion. Krishnamurti stopped them short. 'There is only one thing you can say to give the deepest comfort,' he said. 'Tell them that in his death a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you go also; he will not be alone.' "