Paula D'Arcy's husband and daughter were killed in an automobile accident when she was 27. In Song for Sarah, she wrote about her experience of grief, a theme she continued in Gift of the Red Bird. It includes an inspiring and illuminating account of a "vision quest" in the Texas wilderness during which she discovers the presence of God. We loved her next book, Red Fire: A Quest for Awakening, a fantasy about the magical journey of the soul from fear to love. In A New Set of Eyes, a collection of stories, parables, meditations, and poetry, D'Arcy continues her quest for God in the mysteries, traps, and trivia of everyday life.
The author has become convinced through personal experience that we resist our own awakening by holding fast to ideas we have about reality and the God of creation. It is much easier to rest in our comfortable conclusions about the world and those around us than it is to take a bold step beyond our flimsy mental constructs. "To awaken is not about staying in the same place and seeing, from there, new vistas. Nor is it about having enlightened insights, or realizing new thoughts or ideas. It is to find myself in the new vista, looking back at my former life with an entirely new set of eyes. It is, literally, to be changed; the spirit within becomes my sight."
D'Arcy marvels at the ways in which Spirit has broken down her constricting ideas about God and opened her up to new possibilities. One of the worst obstacles to this inner work is the dreadful and limiting views we have of the deep self. With wonderful stories, the author reveals how she has slowly come to a deeper appreciation of the spiritual practice of being present. Even more relevant to the times in which we live are her comments about the demand we make upon reality and God that our lives be safe and secure. A little vignette says it all: "But when I hugged Sheraz goodbye, whispering 'Be safe,' into her ear, she stood back and looked straight into my eyes with her dark beauty. 'Safe,' she repeated. 'It used to be my prayer. But now I recognize that we may not be safe. And if this is our portion, so be it.' No sentimentality. No smallness. Only clarity, Power. Freedom. A beauty beyond the usual definition. The Self we most deeply are."