Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Altar in the World

I had reserved this book at the library after reading favourable reviews on Ginger and Jayne's blogs earlier this year. There were many holds on it and I finally picked up my copy a couple of weeks ago. I started reading it and realized this was not a book to be skimmed, but with all that has been going on this month, I did not get back to it. But God has ways of slowing us down. I spent several hours in the ER at the hospital yesterday and while I am not seriously ill, I do require intravenous medication for a few days. I took the book along and finished it while receiving treatment and was thoroughly moved by the words shared by the gifted author, Barbara Brown Taylor. The tears in my eyes were not from physical pain, but from words which described the beauty and intimacy of a true spiritual relationship with God and the world. We are quick to separate the spiritual from the secular in our lives but the author challenges the reader to see that every aspect of our lives should be meaningful and reverent. I dislike the fact that the music and singing segment in the church service is called "praise and worship", as if the rest of our week is not dedicated to the same principle.

The twelve chapters of the book are as follows;
  • The Practice of Waking up to God
  • The Practice of Paying Attention
  • The Practice of Wearing Skin
  • The Practice of Walking on the Earth
  • The Practice of Getting Lost
  • The Practice of Encountering Others
  • The Practice of Living with Purpose
  • The Practice of Saying No
  • The Practice of Carrying Water
  • The Practice of Feeling Pain
  • The Practice of Being Present to God
  • The Practice of Pronouncing Blessings
I remember reading Brother Andrew's book The Practice of the Presence of God a few years ago and Taylor's book makes reference to this classic work as she expands on the theme.

I noticed several people standing in busy areas of San Francisco and Los Angeles last month holding placards which admonished people to repent and turn to God. The crowds veered away from them even though they were well intentioned with their message. How much better it is to build relationships and share God's love in the places we live, work and play. The next time I read my own copy of this book, I will be using a highlighter.


  1. I haven't read this book but I so much appreciate your thoughts. What you wrote is true life, is living a life of Christ here on this earth.

  2. There's a very enjoyable podcast with Barbara on the CBC program Tapestry:

    Wishing you good health.

  3. Tku for the recommendation.

    I stopped going to church services long ago. This does not mean that I do not visit church anymore. I go when it is empty and I can sit quietly and have my own thoughts. My faith is strong and has been since a small child. God is with me everyday......

  4. So glad you enjoyed it, Ruth! Your review has me wanting to do a re-read. :)

  5. I hope you are okay.I am not closely connected to a church but do enjoy inspirational books.I think that is true that life has a way of slowing us down when necessary at times.

  6. I pray that you will be feeling great in no time at all.This book sounds like one which I would like to read,I have to see if I can get it somewhere

  7. Ruth--First, I hope you heal quickly.
    Second, this book is one that our church reading group selected for this fall. While I have not yet read it, I enjoyed the review. One of our church members is executive director for a local community library, and she was very enthusiastic about it.

  8. LOL... me too Ginger! :c)

    Ruth, I am so happy to hear this wonderful book spoke to you as well. Hope all is well with your health too. Take care of yourself my friend.

  9. Take care Ruth and I hope you are feeling better soon.
    I'll be looking for this book!

  10. The book looks very interesting. It must be a good read if you was on reserved for months at the library.

    I was thinking I would run into at Riverside park on Sat, but I guess you were spending your time at ER. I hope all is well and wish you a very speedy recovery.


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