I love both poems, The Invitation and The Dance, by this author but resisted reading her books out of general skeptical view of self-help books but finally checked it out from the library, no harm, no foul, I could always drop it in the return box easily if Ifound it to be a chore to read.
This book was pleasant to read like sitting over lunch with a fairly new friend. Oriah is writing about her own spiritual life and presents an honest peak for the reader into not only her aha moments but into the moments she saw herself as falling short of her own defined path. This is what I call a keeping it real approach to spiritual development and one that made me feel comfortable as a reader while reflecting on my own spiritual growth.
At the end of each chapter she does offer the reader some suggestions for spiritual meditations but she leaves the responsibility of growth with the reader as I believe it works best. She is not offering a cookie cutter recipe to improvement.
Here are some passages that I liked: (from 1st edition published by HarperSanFrancisco 2001)
I am less interested in people’s articulated spiritual beliefs or political philosophies and more interested in whether or not they are true to themselves even when it costs them something, whether or not they can be kind when it is easier to be indifferent, whether or not they can remember that to be human is to be flawed and spectacular and deeply compassionate. (p. 15)
I do not seek perfection. I simply seek to remember who and what I am everyday. I seek the people and places and practices that support the expanding of this awareness in my day, in my life, in my choices. Our lives are the story of how we remember. (p. 29)
There is a difference between being the determiner in your life and being the controller. We often confuse the two. The desire to control is a normal human response to fear. The ability to determine is the ability to remember who and what you are…(p. 80)
To live deeper we have to go to the places that help us find a slower rhythm. But simply going to these places is not enough. We have to let these places touch us, change us, speak to us. (p. 117) Being a poet who is called by how geography and location forms our stories and voices this resonates with me.
There is a difference between happiness–offering who you are to the world and knowing it is enough–and pleasure and ease. (p. 140) For me this is difficult to remember and live. I suspect its due to the effective of materialism and to the impact of living in times of supreme capitalism.