Spiritual Directors International

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A World of Prayer

A World of Prayer: Spiritual Leaders, Activists, and Humanitarians Share their Favorite Prayers
edited by Rosalind Bradley
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2012
211 pages
Reviewed by Jacqueline Leksen

At a time such as this when religious and political conflicts roil the globe, along comes this wisdom-packed book, breathing hope and the possibility of peace on every page. Nearly one hundred spiritual leaders and peace activists from a wide variety of nations, cultures, and faith traditions, including Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Baha’i, male and female priests, male and female imams and rabbis, indigenous Maoris and Aborigines, a Christian Taoist, and a Christian Arab Palestinian living in Jerusalem, share their stories, along with the prayers that nourish and empower them as they nudge our world in the direction of peace and justice.

Spiritual directors and those they accompany will find rich resources and sustenance in these voices united by their passion for peacemaking on behalf of the earth and its people, and of the love that holds us. You will recognize familiar names such as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, Joan Chittister, OSB, international statesman and Nobel Peace laureate Nelson Mandela, and a host of other kindred spirits in these chapters.

Liz Budd Ellmann, the former executive director of Spiritual Directors International, is one of the contributors, and she includes a profound poem by Martha Postlethwaite that I have been sharing with spiritual directees this week, inviting readers to “create / a clearing / in the dense forest / of your life / and wait there patiently, / until the song / that is yours alone to sing / falls into your open cupped hands / and you recognize and greet it. / Only then will you know / how to give yourself / to this world, / so worthy of rescue” (61).

Themes of the oneness of humankind and of care for the common good are frequently mentioned. Dr. Eboo Patel, Muslim author, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, believes that we have been separated not by our various faiths but by “the line that separates those who believe in pluralism from those who believe religions are fated to fight” (137). He urges us to focus on the common good and on cooperation in place of conflict. This beautiful prayer by Richard Rohr, OFM, echoes these themes: “We who are caught in the flux of time, / Seek to be where You are. / We seek to be present to your Eternal / Presence— / where all is one, forgiven, / and surrounded by mercy. / Amen” (154).

Readers are encouraged by Rabbi Jacqueline Tabick to ask themselves this question: “What will contribute to the sum total of goodness in this wonderful world that God has allowed us to enjoy and how can I help with the ongoing process of bringing that to pass in this coming month?” (176).

His Holiness Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj writes that “Life itself is restless for peace in the world. Let its noble dream materialize” (165). He quotes the poet Sant Darshan Singh Ji Maharaj, who articulates his hope of a “transcendent peace,” which “once it permeates our being, can spread to others and bathe this planet in peace” (166). The words in this book lead us in the direction of peace.

Jacqueline Leksen completed a master’s degree in transforming spirituality with an emphasis in spiritual direction at Seattle University, Washington, USA. She offers spiritual direction in Lynnwood and Seattle, Washington, where she works as a host in a drop-in center for people who have no permanent home.

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