Doors to the Sacred: a book review

One of my favorite Gerard Manley Hopkins poems declares, “Christ plays in ten thousand places.” With a cultivated awareness, we begin to see Christ’s presence in our lives and in the lives of those we encounter. While Hopkins explored the divine revealed in creation, Bridget Haase sees God in the faces of the people that she meets and the circumstances she faces. Doors to the Sacred: Everyday Events as Hints of the Holy opens fifty-two different doors, exploring where God shows up in the midst of our day-to-day life.

Haase is an Ursuline sister and a story teller. Each of the entries in this book tell a brief story. Sometimes Haase describes chance encounters with strangers. At other times she shares about the children she teaches (or the grown-up-ones she’s taught). She also tells a little of her own experience growing up and her vocation as a nun. These stories are paired with perceptive questions which probe God’s presence in our life and a prayer (sometimes quotations from scripture or from saints and holy people).

Haase invites readers to hunt for God with her, but she asks that we take our time, not rush through. These fifty-two entries correspond, by design, to the fifty-two weeks of a year and Haase promises that a year with this book will keep us busy. She also suggests reading this book as a devotional for a weekend retreat or a day of ‘intensive reflection’ (4).  For the purpose of this review, I read this book far too quickly, but I took enough time to get a sense  of where Haase’s prose would take me. I  took time to journal my responses to the questions she asked at the end of several of the chapters. I felt that her reflections and questions aided my awareness of the God-with-me and helped me retrace my steps to see where God has been present in my life. Some of her questions also helped me probe my own anxiety for where I don’t sense God’s presence and where I long for his guidance.

This is not your typical devotional. Haase doesn’t organize her reflections around a particular spiritual theme or scriptural passage. The experience of reading this book is more like ‘exploring a basement’ (4), or digging through boxes in the attic to see what you find there. Christ is present everywhere playing in ten thousand places and hiding behind every door. I dog-eared several pages to return to later. I give this book four stars: ★★★★

Thank you to Paraclete Press for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

James

 

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