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“In meditation the journey of an entire life will be manifest as a state of relaxation and a state of activity, forever a balancing act between sleeping and waking. In life, meditation will form a daily practice that will permeate all your actions until one day you will feel unspeakable joy while standing in line at the bank.”
—From the Prologue
Twenty-five years ago, James Connor, a newly ordained Jesuit priest, was called in to console a couple whose baby had been killed in a freak accident. At a loss for words to explain this cruel blow and comfort the anguished parents, he began to question his faith, and eventually retreated to a lonely cabin in the interior of British Columbia, Canada, to try to reestablish his relationship to God.
In this luminous memoir, Connor has found the words to describe the indescribable: his circuitous, sometimes faltering, always passionate journey into the heart of humanity, its darkness and its light. With stubborn curiosity, touching humility, and raucous imagination, Connor gropes for meaning in percolating coffee and washing dishes as well as in the rising sun; in the arrhythmic companionship, sick sense of humor, eager gossip, or drunken belligerence of his eccentric neighbors; with the native bats, loons, bears, salmon, and stars; and in the encroaching fire that’s been burning for months in the hills, no less than the piles of books he’s stacked around himself and the ancient traditions of Eastern and Western spirituality. Ultimately, Connor searches silence and solitude for a way to rekindle his faith, feeding his spirit with simple breath and contemplation, to find that just as the flame jumps up and consumes his grief, anger, shame, and other unwelcome, all-too-human intruders upon Nirvana, it throws into light the blessedness of ordinary things.
The story of Connor’s lurching spiritual quest will resonate with anyone who has ever tried to climb to higher ground or been humbled by the challenges of meditation. The good-natured instruction woven seamlessly into his tale will introduce fellow seekers to the healing power of silence and encourage them to keep climbing.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Silent Fire is one of the most beautifully written and insightful spiritual memoirs to appear in years. One day James A. Connor, a former Jesuit priest, began a hospital rotation by encountering a young couple who had just lost their newborn baby in a freak car accident. Sadly, Connor found no words of spiritual comfort. Instead he struggled in awkward silence, wondering what kind of sick God could let this happen. Soon after, he fled the priesthood and drove to a lakeside cabin where he began a silent retreat. "Silence thickened, and I fidgeted--nothing stood between me and my own feelings ... I came to the lake not to speak, then, but to listen--to the loons, to the wind, to the birds, and to the growing fear that nothing made sense anyway."
In his silent exile Connor eventually finds meaning in the making of coffee, the streak of the Milky Way, an encounter with a drunken neighbor. This contemplation on silence (with bursts of humor) will make you yearn for an unplugged life, or at least a more examined one. Take it on a retreat and turn down the volume so you can listen for what longs to be heard. Or read it in morsels, evening by evening, before you drift into the hush of sleep. Over time it will surely merit the bookshelf companionship of Merton, Thoreau, and Whitman. --Gail HudsonFrom the Back Cover:
“Jim Connor is a holy wayfarer who uses his unholy frailties as stepping stones on his way to enlightenment. In Silent Fire we are gently journeyed through fires, bird songs, and plopping lake fish with a man who casts a critical eye on his own shortcomings and looks for God in other human beings. It’s a grand book to dip into for the gentle and fierce truths contained in every page. A treasure for all my days.”
-- Malachy McCourt, author of Singing My Him Song, A Monk Swimming, and Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad
“This exquisite book is desperately needed in a world too much in love with auditory stimulations.” -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“I have found, in Silent Fire, a book of immense substance and grace. James Connor . . . faces the pain we all feel when children die without warning, or ordinary people fall in terrorist attacks. . . . Not since Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance have I read a book that can be both humorous and substancial. Not since Thomas Merton’s work have I read a spiritual memoir with this kind of ease and depth. I hope Silent Fire finds it way into every home and library."
-- Michael Gurian, author of An American Mystic
“Silent Fire reminds me of Thomas Merton’s or Henri Nouwen’s work, but I like it better. Connor’s beautiful writing touches the soul tenderly with humor, pathos and deep wisdom. This is one of those rare books that deserves to be a constant companion for anyone drawn to explore the deeper meaning of life.” -- Gerald G. May, M.D., senior fellow, Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation and author of Will and Spirit, The Awakened Heart, and Addiction and Grace
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Book Description Crown, 2002. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0812991028
Book Description Crown. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0812991028 Ships promptly from Texas. Seller Inventory # Z0812991028ZN
Book Description Crown, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0812991028
Book Description Crown, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110812991028