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Barbara Buda (Scotland)

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Sacred Threshold: Crossing the Inner Barriers to a Deeper Love
Sacred Threshold: Crossing the Inner Barriers to a Deeper Love
by Paula D'Arcy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.33

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Don't miss your life!', 11 July 2008
`A single thought presented itself to me. A vital part of me is slipping beyond my reach. If I don't change my life, I will lose myself altogether... How had I allowed myself to fall into such a small place?' This is a book for all those who feel that there is a mysterious `more' to life.

With warmth and wisdom - born of a searing honesty - Paula D'Arcy lays before us some of the turning points in her own life: the tragic death of her husband and young daughter in the early years of marriage, her `listening-ear' ministry in a women's prison, therapeutic work with a troubled teenager, seeing with new eyes her ailing father and, perhaps most tellingly of all - in the face of her own instinct for professional self-preservation - a journey `living on the edge with Morrie' Schwartz, terminally ill, resolutely confrontational, and destined to star in Mitch Albom's book `Tuesdays with Morrie.'

Though each story reverberates uniquely, `Sacred Threshold' acquires its own voice: personal, yes; but also gently, disturbingly, objective! It phrases the questions we need to ask, especially at times of transition. Acting as sounding-board and soul-friend, it teases the hope from the fear when life `happens' beyond our control. If we do indeed `bury the very things that might set us free' (Stephen Levine) this book - not intentionally a workbook but serving the same purpose - sets out the terrain for a pilgrimage into the human heart. If we really want to know where love can take us, it is only from within that we can regain the freedom to live beyond the confines of our circumstances. `Thresholds demand a willingness to walk in new directions' - by learning to take in how life is already unfolding.

In recommending `Sacred Threshold' to friends I find myself describing it, invariably, as a book with energy! From its opening chapter - `Don't Miss Your Life' - there is a current that flows and can't be ignored. Blessedly devoid of psychobabble, this is a book that rings true. It has been lived, pondered; it comes as a gift from the heart. And after `the plowing, the planting, and the long, soaking rains,' what next? Sight unseen - am I willing to step through a doorway too?

Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation
Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation
by Martin Laird
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

127 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow food for the soul., 11 July 2008
Every ten years or so, a small book appears and slips into the mainstream of life: it is simply `there' to take up and read or disregard. But gradually, thanks to word-of-mouth recommendation, it becomes what it was always meant to be: slow food for the soul, a contemporary spiritual `classic'. `Into the Silent Land' is the latest such offering on the table of life. To those who know their need and are alert to what gives lasting nourishment, this little book - just the right size for pocket or rucksack - has an almost sacramental capacity to bless and confirm, to lure and encourage.

After all, `God does not know how to be absent,' declares Augustinian friar and author Martin Laird. Inviting us to journey with him `Into the Silent Land' he sets out to describe a spiritual landscape with which we so often struggle but within which we are created to thrive. Slowly, we can recover the practice of contemplation by which we come to know ourselves as we really are: nothing less than love outpoured.

Lest this seem too abstract or only true for certain `special' people, we are reminded that the sense of separation from God and one another is the great lie. Thanks to the constant video of noise and distraction passing before us, we allow our attention to be stolen and the awareness of our deepest identity erased. We forget the simplest of truths: we are already one with God. `All we need is to experience what we already possess.' But, like the deep-sea fisherman we are blinded by ignorance: we insist on `fishing for minnows while standing on a whale!'

However, `it is the gift of the Christian contemplative tradition to address this problem by exposing the lie' and introducing stillness to the mental clutter. By drawing wisdom from the treasure house that is the Christian mystical path - in stories and images both practical and poetic - Martin Laird reaches out to us through his own distilled experience, wearing his profound learning with elegance. Whether beginner or long-term pilgrim, he does us all a great favour by pointing out that it is only by letting go the `paste-up job' we call `self' that we come to the real flowering of our identity.

`Into the Silent Land' is simultaneously pole-star and compass, journey and destination. It engages body, soul, heart and mind - all are involved, all matter. There is nothing ethereal about this path, nothing that denies the wonder and mystery of who we are. As the delightful story that is the Epilogue suggests: the answer to the questions `Who am I?' and `who is Jesus Christ?' is profoundly simple... but who am I to deprive you of the gift of reading this book for yourself!

What Should I Tell You?: A Mother's Final Words to Her Infant Son
What Should I Tell You?: A Mother's Final Words to Her Infant Son
by Jo Middlemiss
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living life in the now - as gift., 11 July 2008
`What Should I Tell You?' This is a story of love, of living life in the `now' knowing that each day is gift. It is a story of heart-rending courage, leavened with humour and hope. It is the story of a bright young woman's journey with terminal cancer and her legacy - her message - to her two year old son, and to us. It is the tale of how the legacy lay dormant only to come into the public domain some 25 years after her death at 31. It is the story of how the book came to be written by Jo, her sister, compiled from the tape Maggie left her son, to be given to him on his 21st birthday. And this tape - included in CD form with the book - is now speaking to and changing the outlook of those who come in contact with Maggie and her message.

The CD is not an optional extra, but essential to the book's integrity - its `spine' in reality. For it is Maggie's voice, memorably rich in tone yet increasingly fragile, that carries the message from heart to heart in all its truth and simplicity. And the last of her words we hear are not words at all really, more the sound of a song she is trying to coax from her two year old son. It is the `something' in this small heroic exchange between mother and child that finally cracks the heart; but it's through the cracks that we receive a gift too, sharing with Francis a portion of his mother's legacy.

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