" I am spiritual but I am not religious." Is that not a declaration of our time. Certainly, there are many who are content to be a part of traditional religion, who find comforted by the strict structure of a particular belief system. I am one who feels captive by a belief system organized by that which is outside of myself but I do respect the world's religions and find beauty in their symbols and rituals, as does Roger Housden, author of "Keeping Faith Without a Religion,"his newest book, which is rich with wisdom, poetic sensibilities, insights, and beauty of language, that which he has also brought to his personal essays which appear in his well known poetry anthologies, the Ten Poem Series,( the first which was a bestseller)and to his personal essays which appear in such publications as "O"(Oprah) magazine and Huffington Post. In 'Keeping Faith Without a Religion" Housden does not focus on conveying information(although he is extremely knowledgeable and fascinated by history and classic and contemporary poetry) for he invites his readers to birth their own insights . I am exhilarated by his open and fluid invitation to discover the mystery and wonder of my own existence as it unfolds within me. I am an active participant, not one who is being handed yet another set of beliefs and therefore I feel honored to recognize my own miraculous being . .
Because of Housden's wisdom, and generosity in sharing his own life with us, in this book as well as his essays, I have read almost all of Housden;s books: the Ten Poem Series as well as his nonfiction books, each one alive with his poetic sensibilities, his deep connection to beauty, his embracing all of life: our joys, our sorrows, the dark, our hunger for the transcendent and our capacity to experience that in our "ordinary," every day moments or hours, in our capacity to be centered in the present moment, knowing in that the ecstasy of being. As he writes in the chapter "Faith in Beauty:" "Even in the city there is the sky and a tree to contemplate." At the start of his chapter, he begins, "Beauty lifts my gaze. I look up and there in the distance , the city of San Francisco hovers and floats on the bay under strands of grey mist and the usual bright blue of the California sky"..." and he continues, "I stop, I look my concerns fall away and Istand there, flushed with gratitude for the beauty of existence." Housden sees beauty, not only in nature, but in a certain shade of blue on the ceiling of a mosque or in being immersed in a game of tennis, that in the every day where we can let go of our concerns and be lifted by that is right where we are.
This chapter includes the words of Dostoevsky: "Mankind will be saved by beauty."
So, in this book, you will not only be guided into your deep, authentic self, but will be lifted by the beauty of images Housden sees with his inner and outer eye and thus, you see them too, and begin to see what is around you in every moment, that which you may not have ever seen before. Is that not something to fill you with gratitude.
Housden reminds us that being our own spiritual authority s not new.
Like Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and countless others throughout history He encourages everyone to be their own priest. He recognizes that we can experience transcendent moments, days, even years, without that being explained, without it boxed in, without needing definite," closed up answers." In this way, we experience the awe and wonder of existence "bowing not knowing to what" as expressed in W.S. Merwin's poem, "The Anniversary of my Death."
Housden's book responds to the growing population of free-thinking seekers who go beyond the need for answers,desiring to trust ourselves and life as it unfolds within us and around us.