Each of our spiritual journeys is influenced by different sources. For some, it may be a particular mentor. For others, it may be specific experiences. My journey is filled with persons and experiences, some positive, some not. But many of the benchmarks on my journey are books. So I want to share with you my shortlist of high-impact books that have enriched my spiritual journey. Some are spiritual in nature, some are not. Hopefully as I share, you will be constructing your own list. My books are listed in no particular order:
- The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen. This book has been a guide in my work as a therapist. It also got me on the road to sobriety.
- New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. Here are collected many of Merton’s thoughts. It has helped me to stay humble.
- Our Town by Thornton Wilder. This play has given me a framework for thinking of the afterlife. Several versions are available for viewing. I recommend the one with Jason Robards and Kirk Douglas.
- Thich Nhat Hanh Living Buddha, Living Christ. My journey has been helped by Buddhism. This book gives me a bridge to link Buddhism to my Christian roots.
- Joseph Telushkin Jewish Literacy, Telushkin’s work helped me embrace the Jewish roots that all Christians have.
- C.S. Lewis A Grief Observed. I could list several of this great man’s works but this one gave me a deeper more humane understanding of grief.
- Matthew Linn, Sheila Fabricant, and Dennis Lynn Healing the Eight Stages of Life. This work helped me broaden and heal my image of the God of my understanding and specifically helped me experience a feminine side of God.
- Anne Lamott Traveling Mercies. I relate to her patchwork quilt brand of spirituality.
- Marcus Borg Convictions. This is the most recent addition to my list. His sharing of his own journey organized around the themes of memory, conversion, and conviction deepened my understanding of struggles along the way.
- Loren Eiseley The Starthrower. Eiseley was the first writer to help me embrace the sacredness of nature. I didn’t place the Bible on here. I am nearing the conclusion of my fourth reading of the Bible. It is a rich source of spiritual wisdom but definitely not an easy read. I encourage you to make your own list and share it here in the form of a comment. I have been directed to several very helpful books by other travelers.
_The Alchemist_ by Paulo Coehlo. I’ve been criticized for liking this book, but I don’t care. It’s a meaningful read to me, and one that I’m glad to have read.
_All the Pretty Horses_. I also can see how that’s an odd choice here, but the way it connects me to the natural world always makes me feel associated to something larger.
Oh where to begin with books that have influenced my spiritual path? For two decades I have been a student of Carl Jung and his work as well as Joseph Campbell. Throughout the 90s I was guided by the work of Michael Meade and African Shaman, Malidoma Some. Richard Rohr has been a strong influence as well as Matthew Fox and all of his works on Creation Spirituality. Not to be found in books but in the land and in the sky, Native American teachings. Prose has been helpful, but never as powerful as the poetry of Rumi, Hafiz, Mary Oliver, and William Stafford. I don’t label myself as Christian but more like pagan/Christian/indigenous/feminist mystic.
There has one consistent torch light on my spiritual journey which consists of the books and articles written by Viktor Frankl, MD, PhD. Through his writing he made his therapy available to everyone. He said that we readers participated in “Auto-bibliotherapy” and were to be commended. One of his best books is “The Unheard Cry for Meaning, Psychotherapy and Humanism” which was dedicated to his child who was aborted by the Nazis. The inscription simply reads, “To Harry or Marion, an unborn child”. Of note is that there is no anger or resentment in any of his books, only the persistent pursuit of meaning. One of my psychologist friends commented that these spiritual books are like friends.
Dorthy Day, The Long Lonliness; The Brothers Karamazov; Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset ( the newer translation is much better); Written that You May Believe, Sandra Schneiders,IHM; also SS trilogy on religious life, especially the first book.
My author suggestion is Richard Rohr, OFM. Any book he’s written is inspirational, I started with “Breathing Under Water” it’s about the 12 Steps and is truly inspiring.