5 Books on a Practice Based Spirituality

by Mark Votava


1. Listening Below the Noise: A Meditation on the Practice of Silence by Anne D. LeClaire.

If you want to learn about the practice of silence, this books is for you.  Silence opens us to the awareness of the sacredness of all of life.  LeClaire takes on a journey to be intentional about periods of silence in our lives that foster embracing life more fully.

“How often do we race along at a speed too fast to attend to life around us?  How frequently are we caught in the windstorm of noise and activity and thus unable to hear faint whispers that hold the power to stir our souls?”



2. Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Mindfulness is calling out to us in the ordinary moments of our lives.  Thich Nhat Hanh shares in this book the art of a peaceful, mindful way of life in the midst of all the distraction and noise.  This writing is beautiful, powerful, relevant and enlightening.

“Meditation is not to avoid problems or run away from difficulties.  We do not practice to escape.  We practice to have enough strength to confront problems effectively.  To do this, we must be calm, fresh, and solid.  That is why we need to practice the art of stopping.  When we learn to stop, we become more calm, and our mind becomes clearer, like clean water after the particles of mud have settled.  Sitting quietly, just breathing in and out, we develop strength, concentration, and clarity…”



3. Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton.

Written by one of the greatest writers on spirituality in the twentieth century, Thomas Merton shares his ideas about the theme of solitude.  The reflective life of solitude is essential for us to live into our true self.  Highly recommended reading for embodying a contemplative life in the midst of the twenty-first century world.

“Life reveals itself to us only in so far as we live it.”



4. Waiting for God by Simone Weil.

Simone Weil writes to a priest about her reluctance to enter the church because she wants to identify with the outsider. Simone Weil was a controversial twentieth century mystic who died in her early thirties in an act of solidarity with poor labor workers.  Definitely a must read book in our time!

“From my earliest childhood I always had also the Christian idea of love for one’s neighbor, to which I gave the name of justice – a name it bears in many passages of the Gospel and which is so beautiful…”



5. The Active Life: A Spirituality of Work, Creativity, and Caring by Parker J. Palmer.

The Active Life is a fascinating book by Parker J. Palmer about the paradox of action and contemplation.  He goes on to talk about work, care, creativity, abundance and community.  Excellent book to explore what an authentic spirituality can look like.

“The quality of our active lives depends heavily on whether we assume a world of scarcity or a world of abundance.  Do we inhabit a universe where the basic things that people need – from food and shelter to a sense of competence and of being loved – are ample in nature?  Or is this a universe where such goods are in short supply, available only to those who have the power to beat everyone else to the store?  The nature of our action will be heavily conditioned by the way we answer those bedrock questions.  In a universe of scarcity, only people who know the arts of competing, even making war, will be able to survive.  But in a universe of abundance, acts of generosity and community become not only possible but fruitful as well.”



Have you become awakened to a practice based spirituality?