Book Notes – May

[Archived from May 4, 2009]

A Spirituality for Brokenness: Discovering Your Deepest Self in Difficult Times by Terry Taylor. Skylights Path Publishing, Woodstock, Vermont. 158 pages with Additional Resources. PB. $16.99.

Brokenness, according to Taylor, a Louisvillian who is the director of Interfaith Paths to Peace, is “a sense of alienation or separateness from the world around us.” It may or may not be triggered by something in our past. It can be very specific or a vague indefinable feeling, a gaping crevasse that cannot be filled.

The author was feeling his brokenness most acutely as he approached his 50th birthday. He fell off a porch at Ghost Ranch, the Presbyterian Conference Center in northern New Mexico on July 18, 2007, and suffered severe shoulder and wrist injuries. Suddenly he was broken both physically and spiritually. During his rehabilitation period, he developed the ideas that we find in this book.

Taylor feels that we must embrace our brokenness and “lean into the pain.” (43) He has a formula that is incorporated from many of the major religions of the world: 1) Using the Sabbath (Christians and Jews); practicing Tibetan Buddhist meditations maitri and tonglen; studying the scriptures through the Christian method of Lectio Divina; taking a pilgrimage to a holy site such as do Muslims; incorporating a labyrinth into ones worship patterns as many religions and societies have done down through the years; getting beyond the pain by practicing creative yoga as do the Hindus; and sharing the brokenness with Sangha, the Buddhist concept of community.

The use of a labyrinth is the most intriguing to me. A labyrinth is a line that winds in a maddening fashion getting one close to one’s destination before winding far away. If one follows the path faithfully, however, one will reach the end, which makes the labyrinth reflective of life. The person who follows the labyrinth will exercise the body and the mind before she/he reaches the end of their journey. But, as Taylor puts it, “Community is, in fact, the glue that holds all of the other spiritual practices together.” (141) Completion of the task of life is most satisfying when placed in a communal concept.

There is much that is attractive about this interfaith approach to healing brokenness and it is presented in jargon-free simple language without the taint of being preachy. He does tend to overuse the word brokenness, like a child playing with a new toy, but that is a small price to pay for a gentle guide to peace in a world of snares.

Taylor will have a book signing at Destinations bookseller in New Albany Saturday, April 25, at 3 p.m. The book is also available at Carmichael’s in Louisville.

Leave a Reply