Explore moments of everyday enlightenment

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 25, 2008

By Rebecca Hyde
Rowan Public Library
Spiritual biographies can be as rigorous and exhilarating as climbing a mountain. They are searches, journeys, pilgrimages. On the other hand, the experiences can be everyday events that quietly yet firmly guide and illuminate a life from that moment onward.
The following are books that focus on this aspect of living or way of life for some people.
John McQuiston’s “Finding Time for the Timeless: Spirituality in the Workweek,” collects the stories of individuals who have found ways to incorporate spiritual practices in their daily life (meditation, religious rituals, contemplative prayer, acts of service).McQuiston is not concerned with “cataloging beliefs.” He focuses on recounting the actions and practices of people who understand that “in order to bring a spiritual dimension into life, regular actions are crucial, because such actions become habits, and habits change the quality of one’s life.”Phyllis Tickle’s “The Shaping of a Life : A Spiritual Life,” is a memoir of events from early childhood, college, marriage and domestic life, which mark for Tickle an understanding of prayer and the education of the spirit. Her greatest discoveries (she calls them “gifts”) enabled her to distinguish between the world of “doing” and the special place of “being.”
In “Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community,” by Donna Butler Bass, the path of a committed Christian (to mainline Protestantism) and church history are intertwined. Her personal pilgrimage and that of the contemporary church have not been smooth. However, she believes that the church is living in “yet another time of historical transformation,” so she has chosen to stay within the community.
“The Close: A Young Woman’s First Year at Seminary,” by Chloe Breyer, is the account of the author’s first year in New York’s General Theological Seminary. Breyer experienced the demands of an academic program while working as a chaplain at Bellevue Hospital and as an intern at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. She found that the two worlds could not be isolated, and “gradually stopped segregating the acts and moments that are sacred from the profane.”
In “Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith,” Nora Gallagher recounts a year spent in the life of a parish church and of her own spiritual life as a member of that community. She experiences her faith in real time: the structure of the account follows the traditional liturgical year, but the days are filled with the demands of ordinary living. Gallagher constantly reminds herself that the world of faith must be measured against what she sees around her.”Spiritual Genius: The Mastery of Life’s Meaning,” by Winifred Gallagher, is an exploration of the “uniquely human ability to seek life’s meaning,” to know our larger purpose.
Each of the geniuses interviewed belongs to one of the world’s great spiritual traditions: Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Talmudist, Hindu. All those chosen affect us in three fundamental ways: They focus on a reality that is more than meets the eye; they teach us how to find our own special role in the scheme of things; they inspire us by their ability to express our human potential.
Let’s Talk About It: The book discussion program on Southern fiction begins Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Hurley Room at headquarters and continues every other Thursday. The five titles are “Shiloh,” “The Known World,” “Nowhere Else on Earth,” “Wolf Whistle” and “Song of Solomon.” Call 704-216-8230 to register.
Computer classes: Headquarters ó MS Excel Part 1, Feb. 4, 7 p.m.; MS Word Part 1, Feb. 7, 1:30 p.m.; MS Excel Part 2, Feb. 11, 7 p.m.; MS Word Part 2, Feb. 14, 1:30 p.m.; NCLive Encyclopedia Britannica, Feb. 18, 7 p.m.; NCLive Heritage Quest, Feb. 21, 1:30 p.m. South branch ó Intermediate Excel, Feb. 11, 7 p.m.; Genealogy-Census Records, Feb. 26, 11 a.m.
Tuesday movies: January, Chinese films, headquarters library, 6:30 p.m.; “Fearless.”
Displays: Martin Luther King Jr. display by RPL Staff members, corridor by meeting rooms. Headquarters ó Photography by Spencer Bevis. East ó baskets by Lucille Patterson. South ó Jewelry by Ester Sims.Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.
Web site: www.rowanpubliclibrary.org.