“Winter, spring, summer, and fall are mulch for each other. The seasons of our lives are like that also. We learn from the layers of life. Our joys, sorrows, regrets, hopes, miseries, and enthusiasms are mulch for each other.” The Flowing Grace of Now, Macrina Wiederkehr
Book Review by Jodi Blazek Gehr—
“The Flowing Grace of Now,” Macrina Wiederkehr
Our storehouse of personal experiences can be our greatest teacher as we move through the seasons of life. The lessons we have learned through good and hard living can give us insight to navigate our worries and fears, to help us find answers to hard questions, or to let go of the questions altogether, and to, ultimately, help us make peace with our past, present, and future.
Often, it is a commitment to time spent in quiet and solitude, listening to the wisdom that resides within us, that is our best teacher. Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB invites us to this listening practice in her newest book, “The Flowing Grace of Now.” During her sixty years of professed monasticism, Macrina has been committed to the Benedictine practice of Lectio Divina—reading, meditating and praying with Scripture and other sacred writing—and it is this practice that she shares in her ninth book.
“I felt starved for guidance. I wanted someone to appear in my life who was wise and it seemed to me that no such person was in reach. Then suddenly one day while I was praying with the gospel story of Mary and Martha veils fell from my eyes and I realized that I was standing knee-deep in grace. Grace was all around me. Guidance was in my reach. Teachers were plentiful.”—Macrina Wiederkehr
This special book gently takes readers by the hand, walking through the weeks of the year with fifty-two meditative readings. The reading and reflective questions are creative prayer including lessons that Macrina has learned, as well as poetry and prose from teacher-writers like Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Joyce Rupp, John O’Donahue, Henri Nouwen and Joan Chittister, mystics like Julian of Norwich, and from the stories of the Old and New Testament.
Yes, with practice, we can hear our inner teacher, but it is through solitude and community that we can best traverse the spiritual journey. There are teachers all around us—our circle of friends, spiritual companions, authors, thought-leaders, poets and musicians, as well as the figures from Scripture. A good balance is important—we cannot rely too heavily on others to help us find answers, but we also do not need to go it alone. There are teachers everywhere and within.
The wisdom of the fifty-two-week methodology in “The Flowing Grace of Now,” is by taking an entire week to devote to the reading, the seed has time to burrow. By meditating upon a line or two of scripture, poetry, lyrics or prose, it sinks to a deeper place of resting in one’s heart, taking root, becoming the “mulch” from which to grow from understanding to blooming and becoming. The words take root in your life, impacting your thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
For example, the week six reading is Matthew 13:1-9. We are instructed to keep “in mind that you are the seed being sown…This is a parable about you. You are the seed. Jesus is the sower. What is said about the seed can be said of you….You have been created and sent forth to be a blessing…”
We are the seed that has been planted. We “have been created and sent forth to be a blessing.” It’s not always easy—some soil is better suited for life-living, growth and flourishing, and some soil is thorny, hard and death-dealing. Questions for reflection include: “Can you recognize those moments when you found yourself in the kind of soil that enabled you to grow and flourish? How did that soil differ from the hard and thorny soil?” Surely, one could reflect on this reading in an hour or a day, but there is wisdom in waiting for time to reveal the lesson to be learned.
“Something is waiting for us to make ground for it…so it can make its full presence known.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“The Flowing Grace of Now” is not a book to be read quickly, to get to some conclusion the author has reached. Rather the words are meant to be savored, to be lingered over, resting in the soul, speaking uniquely to the reader as the week unfolds. The teacher truly lies within the heart and only needs to be listened to.
Macrina concludes, “My hope is that you will close the pages of this book with simple joy because of the ever-flowing nature of learning and the abundant ways to absorb the message rather than the mindset that you are finished… The flowing grace of now is never finished. It is ever flowing into the next grace, the next joy, the next awakening, the next sorrow, and the next piece of unfolding life.”
I highly recommend “The Flowing Grace of Now” as a Christmas gift for a loved one. It can be started at any time of the year, but what a beautiful resolution to spend time with a new teacher each week of the new year. For more information about Macrina Wiederkehr and her newest book, “The Flowing Grace of Now”—