Joan Chittister is the bestselling author of more than 20 books and is a well-known international speaker, theologian, and social psychologist. A leader in worker's justice, international peace initiatives, and women's movements for equality, she is the founder and Executive Director of Benetvision: A Resource and Research Center for Contemporary Spirituality. She is profiled in the Living Spiritual Teachers Project of this website.
The devotional material in this paperback originally appeared in Chittister's monthly newsletter The Monastic Way. She challenges us to see God's presence and power in the ordinary rhythms and rituals of everyday life. The chapters cover Blessing (Numbers 6:24), Light (Ephesians 5:8), Fasting (Joel 2:12), Prayer (Psalm 51:15), Naming (Isaiah 43:1), Ordinary Time (Psalm 145:2), Community (Romans 12:5), Rituals (Psalm 95:6), Music (Psalm 150:3-6), Table Fellowship (Wisdom 16:20), The Mystery of Death (Psalm 23:4), and Waiting (Isaiah 9:1).
Chittister has read very broadly over the years and her devotional observations are always sprinkled with material from diverse sources and different religious traditions. She is a fine example of multifaith hospitality. In this example, she looks to Judaism for an expansive view of blessing: "In Jewish tradition, the practice of blessing the other was not reserved to the priests. Parents blessed their children, rulers blessed their people, even Balaam, the outsider, is ordered by Yahweh to bless Israel. We are required, obviously, to be open to the blessings of the other everywhere."
Another hallmark of Chittister's writing is the inclusion of fascinating bits and pieces from contemporary culture. Such as: "Loretta LaRoche says that 75% of daily conversation is negative. We complain about the weather, the traffic, the schedule and sleep! So she's printed a bumper sticker that says 'Stop Global Whining.' "
Chittister always draws us back into the wisdom of the monastic tradition for a fresh view of things: "Fasting reminds us that we are totally dependent on God. When we fast from something we put ourselves into a state of readiness to grow from whatever it is in life that faces us." There is plenty to savor and to put into spiritual practice in Listen with the Heart.