I’m a fast reader and tend to swallow books whole. But I like to have one book on spiritual matters which I read slowly, a few pages a day, at the end of my prayer time each morning.
Here are a few books I’ve found helpful recently and over the years. Many of them come from a slightly different angle than I am used to, such as those from the monastic tradition. The difference in language and perspective helps me wake up and pay attention to see what God might have to say to me that day.
At Home in the World: A Rule of Life for the Rest of Us, by Margaret Guenther. I found this last year at the Episcopal bookstore in Seattle. The book talks about how to maintain your spiritual life in the midst of the busyness of everyday endeavors – and the challenges we all experience in this, including questions of authority, community, generosity, and the meaning of work. Great reflection questions are at the end of each chapter.
Gently Lead: How to Teach Your Children about God While Finding Out for Yourself, by Polly Berrien Berends (out of print). I read this as a young parent, but recently re-read it devotionally. Her candor about the challenges of sharing our faith with our children, and her creativity about the many ways to do that continues to inspire me.
Saved by Beauty: A Spiritual Journey with Dorothy Day, by Michael O’Neill McGrath. McGrath is a Catholic brother and artist. The illustrations are remarkable, and Dorothy Day’s story of coming to faith and to a life-long commitment to ministry to the poor is inspiring.
The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom, by Christine Valters Paintner. This was recommended to me by a Baptist colleague who said he doesn’t usually have much time for the monastic approach, but found the book valuable. This is the book I’m reading now. Paintner talks about the relationship between prayer and creativity and includes suggestions for both prayer and artistic exercises (you don’t have to be an artist to do them, though). One of the questions I read today: “What if you cared less about achievements and being useful, and did more “useless” things today?” As someone who is always assessing how productive I am, that’s a great question.
What spiritual books have helped you most with your ministry leadership?