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Spirituality: Essential Reading

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Lent is upon many of us. Purim and Passover celebrations are coming. And the Spring Equinox is later this month. While we may always be thinking of spirituality, many will observe significant holidays in the next few weeks and months. Literary Mamas share titles that have shed light, inspired, or otherwise reinforced their spirituality. Enjoy!

Download the list to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.

Ezine Co-Editor Jessica DeVoe Riley, says, "I will never forget the first time I read Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl's reflection on his life in the Nazi concentration camps. Even now, when I pick it up to flip through for a reference, I wind up reading about half of it, not wanting to skim his words but relish them. Frankl's blend of psychoanalysis and experience contends that every life is worth living, that 'a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss.' He goes on to say 'that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life -- daily and hourly.' I encourage everyone to read this book, and hope they find as much inspiration in his message as I did."

Assistant Editor in Poetry, Ginny Kaczmarek, says, "Although I do not belong to a particular faith, I found Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir, Eat Pray Love to be food for the soul. She's funny and self-effacing even as she describes her descent into depression, and her plan to pull herself out of it. By spending a year visiting Italy, India, and Indonesia, she explores what it is that connects us to ourselves, to our spiritual natures, and to each other. It was the kind of book that made me want to be a better (calmer, more focused) person and had me cheering for her and her happy ending. Highly recommended!"

Sarah Kilts, Literary Reflections Editor, says, "One spiritual text which I turn to time and again is The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche. Amazing anecdotes, tender stories, and practical advice render the profound teachings within this book extraordinarily accessible -- even to the neophyte seeker. If I ever had to choose 'just one book' this would be it."

Creative Nonfiction Co-Editor and Columnist, Susan Ito, shares, "Okay, I would be remiss if I did not mention (again) one of my favorite books of all time - Gilead, by Marillynne Robinson. The book is filled with theology, being based on the thoughts and reflections of a minister writing to his young son; but it is also about parental love, parental disappointment, forgiveness and grace. I don't think another book has ever moved me so much, even though I am not a church-going religious person. It always shocks me (I've read it four times now) how deeply it affects me."

Shari MacDonald Strong, Senior Editor and Columnist, writes, "At a time when I was still trying to reconcile Christianity and feminism, I stumbled across Sue Monk Kidd's The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, and it changed my life. Here at last was someone who was posing the same questions I'd been trying hard not to ask and showing that it was possible not only to survive, but also to blossom in the midst of the painful process of challenging (and perhaps ultimately deepening) one's long-held spiritual beliefs."

And finally, Columnist and Columns Editor, Stephanie Hunt, shares, "To me, poetry's lovely, limber, mysterious language is the language of the spirit, an ideal genre for spirituality. Some of my favorites are: New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver, Sands of the Well by Denise Levertov, and of course The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks."

Christina Marie Speed writes poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications, including Caper Journal, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune Online, and The View From Here. She lives with her husband and two sons in a sunny fourth-floor walkup in Brooklyn, New York.

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