...Dan Phillips has given us. I picked up this book after a Google search for just that very title, and read it over the course of a week (I was traveling and took it to lunch with me each day). I've seen a few comments in reviews on other sites complaining about the lack of technical instruction on journaling in this book and to those people I say- there are dozens of titles to choose from around that subject; this is something more. It reminds me of one of my favorite expressions about fathers (one that I still quote about my own father, a Methodist minister who we lost to cancer six years ago) that says "My father never told me how to live; he lived, and he let me watch." Dan Phillips has done just that in this powerful little book- he writes, and he lets us watch.
Each chapter lays out a different observation or area of inclusion that has become a part of his spiritual journaling; almost every chapter also contains at least one vignette that I found so powerful that I was moved to tears. The author writes simply but effectively, and always from the heart. Strangely, and this was probably an experience that was unique to me, I also found that Brother Dan shares my love of Moleskine journals, of fountain pens, and of Thomas Merton; I learned that he grew up in Clinton, Tennessee, which is about 20 minutes from my back door and that he went on a pilgramage to Israel in the fall of 2009- I was there in March of the same year. This therefore became a very personal read for me as well. I have now begun journaling (yes in a Moleskine) following the examples from the book, and it has already added a texture and richness to my faith journey I would not otherwise have had.
I strongly believe that God sometimes interjects certain people into our lives at critical times; I have experienced this myself on several occasions in recent years and it has saved my faith. While I may never meet Dan Phillips in person, I will always consider him a mentor, and I am deeply indebted to him for sharing his journals (and his experiences) with the rest of us.