We eagerly await a new book by Sue Bender. In Plain and Simple her journey to live among the Amish taught us all a thing or two about how to be present. In Everyday Sacred she enabled us to savor the "just enough" dimensions of daily life. In Stretching Lessons, Bender is listening more intently to her body and soul and seeking to come to terms with her propensity to struggle through everything. Or as she puts it more quaintly: "Trying is my middle name. How do I learn allowing?"
We're happy to report that Bender gets in touch with her 66-year-old body in stretch classes taught by a very wise woman. Although the author's hip acts up and she has trouble with her Achilles heel, her body work yields rewards. She measures the rhythm of her days and realizes that she has only two speeds "full speed ahead and collapse." Something inside her desperately wants to slow down but can't.
Of course, in many pockets of society today, being a speedy person is lauded. But spiritually speaking, slow is more beautiful. A friend tells Bender to go fishing. Instead she spends a month at an artists' colony where her sense of play is challenged by a sign in the mountains: YIELD TO WHIM.
At one point, Bender pinpoints the target of her questing "coming home to a deeper place inside ourselves. It is about opening our hearts and growing the wings of our souls." While grappling with these themes, the author offers spiritual readings of her relationships with her father, husband, mentor, and friends.
The real treat is watching Bender circle around her yearning for peace or what she call "ease." If you share this desire for silence, idleness, and the delicious pleasure of goose bumps, you'll find this book to be brimming over with good things. We certainly did.