Authors that “Sit” on Top of Your Head

October 31, 2010 § 13 Comments

There’s a challenge going around.  I got roped into it.  It has kind of a fancy name, but basically it requires you to come up with the authors or books that have impacted you so much they rise into your consciousness almost unbidden, once challenged to come up with a list (in 15 minutes more or less).  I must admit a good number of these books were ones that came to mind a bit over a year ago when a neighbor, interested in deepening his  prayer life, wanted some recommendations.  (He thought it would take me some time to compile such a list, but I had gathered all the the books into a pile by the next morning.  Most are on this list, and that was before I ever even “thought” of becoming Orthodox.)

Twice in my life my work has literally “driven me” to prayer.  The first time was during my 8 years teaching young children.  The second time was during my decades doing psychotherapy.   I’ve practically starting writing my “memoirs” about some of that at Nothingness, so I’ll just link to those posts if there’s a need for further explanation of some books on this list.  Intense work (either with rambunctious children needing so much from a teacher or troubled adults needing so much from a therapist) presents so many challenges in the areas of emotion, intellect, and personal presence, that, as I wrote elsewhere, “over and over I have needed to turn to God – or perhaps you could say: God has turned to me.”

The List of books:

  • TS Eliot:  Four Quartets
  • Andre Louf:   Prayer and Humility
  • Anonymous Author:  The Way of a Pilgrim / Philokalia / Prayer of the Heart
  • Anonymous Author:  The Cloud of Unknowing
  • Walter Ciszek:  He Leadeth Me
  • Lanza del Vasto:  Return to the Source
  • Abhishiktananda: Prayer and a Christian approach to Vedanta
  • Ruth Burrows:  prayer, biography, spiritual life
  • Jean Marie Howe:  Secret of the Heart
  • The Gospel of John
  • The Psalms
  • Aelred Squire:  Asking the Fathers
  • Solzhenitzin’s early novels
  • Theophane the Monk:  Tales of a Magic Monastery

Also, all too many books that I am currently reading… or “getting to”.

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“Presence” and “Spiritual Priesthood”

October 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Abraham Joshua Heschel, the first holy man I ever heard, a man whose words and presence have never left me, has been described thus:

He was blessed with a gift which few men possess: the marvel of presence. He did not have to speak to communicate his faith, his convictions, his nobility. His very presence communicated a vision. His outwardness conveyed something of his indwelling greatness. His very being radiated a sacred meaning.

The same could be said of the Dalai Lama, another holy man from whom it was my privilege to receive the gift of Presence.

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