|two books. many analogies. various connections.|
This is a bit longer review and comparison of two books that I found helpful in my own spiritual journey. Read on if so inspired!
Reading The Seven Storey Mountain, I had to enter into Thomas Merton’s world, and I found that world - similar to my recent experience with reading Love and Salt- to be both encouraging, enlightening, and at times, very dark. Thomas Merton is first and foremost building a world around the soul. He is expressing the development of character as he feels his need for a more devoted and dedicated form of faith, and in this way encourages us in our faith journeys. It was also enlightening. We travel with Merton as he moves around and visits other countries. We see unfold the intellectual and spiritual landscape when he moves to America. Why, then is it dark? There are themes of spiritual apathy, and each place he visits, he is discouraged by the lack of enthusiasm and even violence that he sees. Much of this sadness arises from materialism, his scorn for vanity, and his bitterness toward many spiritual communities he happens upon.
“At about three in the afternoon I was in the habit of going to Corpus Christi, or to Our Lady of Lourdes which was even closer, and doing the Stations of the Cross. This meditative and easy prayer provided me with another way, more valuable than I realized, of entering into participation with the merits of Christ’s passion, and of renewing within me the life that had been set alight by that morning’s Communion.” page 292
One woman is a cradle Catholic, and the other is discerning a conversion to the Catholic faith. Read Love and Salt just for the references. They reference Nick Cave, Madeleine L'Engle, Flannery O'Connor, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and the list goes on. Amy Andrews, one of its authors, is a recipient of the Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction. “What began as a Lenten discipline soon became a habit, and we continued to write for years. We wrote to preserve and make sense of our daily lives…. [W]e wrote because it was the only way we knew how to pray.” Although also Catholic, and deeply intimate faith portrait. It was published by Loyola Press in 2013. If you are a young adult female audience, go with Love and Salt. Both books kept me up at night, both books had me a little spooked, and a little down. Both books feel like an intimate portrait, a journey into a spiritual landscape both dry and lush, alternately. If you have to choose one, I would say— choose Merton. He’ll push you and make you think. Love and Salt certainly will too, but Merton is heavier reading. Even though he is hard to read because of his sensitivity to the darkness of the world, eventually he finds God, and that discovery is what makes this book rare and beautiful as it unfolds.
I think what is so important about both of these books is that they are journeying to put God at the center of their lives. The salt is the tears, the salt of the earth is the bond they share because of Christ. The result is a supernatural life and eternal life in heaven spent with God. I’ll close with this jewel, for as with both books, delving into the spiritual is what makes its authors the salt of the earth, and that unique pursuit is ultimately what ties these two books together. And for me, that's what makes them book twins.
*or any of that, I don’t have bragging rights- Heavenly Days!