Robert Ellsberg, the publisher of Orbis Books, asked me to write this preview, even though this book is “my baby.” That is, it’s written by me and my friends. So, if I said it is really good and beautiful, that would be bragging, and I don’t want to do that. I’ll just say what I can.
Soul Seeing comes from my heart and from my life and from the hearts and lives of some of my friends. Its purpose is to remind you of the amazing grace that has run through your life, as it has through ours, like gold through a mountain chain. Soul Seeing is about seeing the beauty and goodness that is already there.
It began with a phone call from the editors of the National Catholic Reporter. They asked me to write a regular column. I brought up the idea of “soul seeing” as a way of looking at life in a way not much explored in the pages of NCR or anywhere, and suggested that I write one column every month or two and, for diversity, ask friends to write the others. They asked for a brief description. I sent this:
This column is about seeing God, the world and ourselves with the eye of the soul. It is not about changing the world, but changing the way we see the world. Each column is a spiritual reflection on the beauty that hides behind appearances and the peace that is beyond all understanding.
Since then, more than 160 “Soul Seeing” columns have invited readers to look at the ordinary and see the extraordinary: to perceive the kingdom of heaven in a car wash, hear the music of life on a subway train, taste Eucharist in a basket of biscuits shared by famished children in Ethiopia, feel the touch of angels’ wings in the stillness of a radiation room. Writers and readers have read the Bible with the eye of the soul, and listened to the “still, small voice of God” with the same ear God hears us. We stretched our souls with the “old yoga ladies” at a senior center, and danced with a woman with Hansen’s disease in Africa in gratitude for her new bed. Each column has encouraged us to do just one thing: cultivate this sixth sense that God has implanted in each of us, a GPS system back to Eden we call “soul seeing.”
The Catholic Press Association has awarded “Soul Seeing” first place as “best regular column on the spiritual life” four years in a row. This book selects 56 of those columns from among the 160. They are about seeing the light that breaks through the cracks in our lives, about being loving and forgiving because there is no love without forgiveness and there is no forgiveness without love. I’ve written some of the columns about my life with my wife, Vickie, who has Alzheimer’s and how in many ways our marriage has never been happier. Other writers include friends whose work you might already appreciate, like Richard Rohr, Joyce Rupp, James Martin, Alice Camille and Brian Doyle. The others are friends who once you read them, you would like to know.
I hope none of this comes across as bragging. I hope you’ll want to read our book.
To find more information on the book, or to purchase, please visit OrbisBooks.com