Book/page totals

Top 10 Lists

Sunday, May 13, 2007

This book took me a couple of months to finish, although I read the bulk of it in a couple of weeks, a chapter many nights before I went to bed. Chittister takes the Rule of St. Benedict that guides the lives of Benedictine monks, and puts it into everyday language, seeking to apply it to the lives of Christians .. even those who are not monks and will not be. Many of the chapters begin with stories or images from her time in the monastery (since she is a nun), which helps to connect abstract ideas to daily life. And Chittister takes care that things don't remain abstract, but gives concrete examples wherever possible.

I don't like to highlight or underline in books, but I will write down quotes if the author hits a nerve or makes me verbally agree. (Yes .. sometimes I do make sounds to myself when reading..) There have been two or three books that are full of these quotable lines, and this definitely fits in the category. Whenever I sat down to read, I'd automatically grab the journal my quotes go into, because I knew I'd need it.

Each chapter is about a specific topic, ranging from prayer to humility to hospitality to stability .. all sorts of characteristics and practices which help to define Benedictines -- but also can help to define all those who follow Jesus. One recurring idea is that our definitions have been skewed. For example .. humility often is taken to mean 'someone who thinks lowly of themself' but Chittister says "humility comes from understanding my place in the universe" (p55). If someone is a gifted artist and they don't do art and don't use art to refresh their spirit, to speak to those around them, and to glorify themselves .. they aren't being humble. Understanding who I am and who God is .. that's humility. Throughout the ideas Chittister covers, one theme is that of right understanding. We are to seek to be humble, but if we don't know what that really means our seeking may be taking us further from God. We are called to obedience, but if we don't know what that honestly means, we can easily obey ourselves instead of God. Chittister powerfully reminds us of the reasons the Benedictines have been around for so long .. their focus is on God, and they work hard to stay connected as communities, to value one another, to speak and live truth with one another .. so that God may be glorified. This is a book worth reading.

Title:Wisdom Distilled from the Daily
Author: Joan Chittister
Date published:1990
Genre: Spiritual
Number of pages: 207
Notes: Part of InnerChange reading


Google Search