Spiritual Reading

In the last week,  my reading habits have shifted some. For months, most of my reading (I’m speaking here of books, not blogs) has been science fiction/fantasy. This is mainly escapist reading for me, with an undercurrent of social commentary/critique. (Just for reference, my favorite writer in this genre is L.E. Modesitt, Jr.). But in the past week I’ve been reading more deliberately spiritually oriented books.

The first of these, which I am  reading essays from slowly, savoring, is A Monk’s Alphabet, by Jeremy Driscoll. He is a monk, apparently working in a somewhat traditional genre of spiritual reflection, arranged alphabetically. I’ve only just dipped my toe into this, but find his reflections on life and the modern world, life and his ancient tradition, interesting and provocative. They push me to think about my life, and some of the things I miss in the everyday tumult.

The second book I’m listening to on tape: Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott. I love the ongoing struggle she narrates between what she wants to feel and actually experiences. Even more, I enjoy her self-recognition of the moments where she crosses that line from “being spiritual” to smug self-congratulation for being spiritual, which all of us who seek to live a life of the spirit fight against. It is deeply reassuring that (to me, anyway) to have someone else name this flaw in themselves also, given that I all too often recognize it in myself.  

I would love to say that this spiritual reading is radically transforming my life. I could, in fact say (or write) this. But it wouldn’t be true. It is, perhaps, helping me to be a little more aware of the spiritual aspects of my day, the opportunities for helping others, the ways in which my life is intersecting with the Divine. But it is a slow process, which is taking place around the edges of life. Which is, after all, the main message of spiritual texts: It’s all about listening more closely to the everyday.