Just as in child rearing, I tend to have a somewhat “hands off” attitude toward my books as they go out into the world. My greatest pleasure is in seeing them take on an identity, make friends, become travelers, and surround themselves with family. My only request of them is that they be of service to the world in some fashion.
With books this starts by sending them out, introducing them to the right people, and seeing if they behave well or badly. When you introduce a book to someone you respect deeply, and that person tells you, “My, you’ve raised a good book here,” you feel the same pride and validation you feel when the same happens with one of your children.
Hidden Beauty (full title, The Hidden Beauty of Everyday Life) has just had such a moment, and I’d like to share it with you and ask you to participate in it.
There are two people who have quietly been doing the heavy lifting in the world of spiritual writing and thinking — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. You probably don’t know their names, and that is typical of their unassuming manner of working. But if you ever check Rotten Tomatoes to assess films, if you ever read reviews of books to see if they have some authentic spiritual dimension, chances are you will have read some of the writings of Frederic and Mary Ann. Here is where you’ll find them. http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/.
They are truly concerned about finding the spiritual in our everyday lives, and they have devoted themselves, in various venues, to looking at creative works to see if they have a spiritual heart. Non-judgmental, non-sectarian, they are like the best of teachers: they open your eyes to what is before you so that you can make your own decisions as to whether a work is something you wish to bring into your life.
So, when they chose Hidden Beauty as the first selection for the Spirituality and Health book group, I was as proud as a parent can be. And when I saw that they have put together a resource guide to help people use the book in discussion groups, I was moved from proud to humble.
I have often been asked to put together book group materials or curricula based on my books, and though I think it is a wonderful idea, I am seldom — no, “never” — moved to do it. It is a secondary act, best performed, to my thinking, by someone who comes to the book fresh. Just as the reading world tells you what you have written and helps shape its identity, it is the reading world that must tell other readers how to look at and use a book in their lives. Mary Ann and Frederic have done this for Hidden Beauty.
I’ll excerpt their opening passage so you can get a flavor of how they see the book:
There is beauty, grace, mystery, and love all around us: all we have to do is pause and take the time to be attentive and to lean into the presence of God in everyday life. That is the wonderful and salutary message in this brief but poignant volume of spiritual essays by Kent Nerburn, the author of many books including Simple Truths, Small Graces, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace, and Calm Surrender. His lyrical prose is a delight to read. Every word is set in just the right place and with the right emphasis. He has an artist’s eye (his sculptures are at the Peace Museum in Hiroshima, Japan, and Westminster Benedictine Abbey in Mission, British Columbia, and elsewhere) and a knack for speaking from the heart about little acts of kindness and reverence that others might easily miss.
For those of you who want to use Hidden Beauty in a book group, or who simply want to see if it has value for your ongoing spiritual journey, please go to this remarkable website put together by Fred and Mary Ann. You will not only get a better feel for this particular literary child of mine, you will find a web resource of inestimable value in your own journey toward a meaningful spiritual understanding of life.
Truly, it is worth a look.