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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and collect prayer books? Add this gem to your collection!, July 4, 2011
This review is from: At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time (Paperback)
Sarah Arthur's ministry in writing is aimed at connecting the world's great literary arts with the intimacy of our own spiritual adventures. You may be familiar with two of her earlier inspirational books: Walking With Frodo: A Devotional Journey Through the Lord of the Rings and also Walking through the Wardrobe: A Devotional Quest into The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. As those titles suggest, they are invitations to "walk" with Sarah into a couple of the 20th Century's great fictional cycles.

In her new book, a prayer book especially for summers and autumns, Sarah doesn't take us into a single literary work. Instead, she's inviting us into a whole library of her favorites. If you're familiar with more formal prayer books, such as the terrific works by Phyllis Tickle like The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime, then you know that these books are designed to flip open each day (or, in Phyllis' case more than once a day). The texts invite us to throw open the windows in our prayer life and reflect on texts that we quickly make our own.

While Phyllis' popular "hours" series reaches back to traditional forms of daily prayer, Sarah carries our spiritual connections outward to such popular voices as Jane Austin and Victor Hugo. Imagine reflecting on Les Miserables (Everyman's Library) in a moment of prayer? That's the creative spark you'll find in this book. And, if you think about the vintage of writers like Austin and Hugo, you'll also realize that a lot of what Sarah has assembled in this book are classics in public domain. I'm particularly pleased to find some Gerard Manley Hopkins and a bit of G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday: Centennial Edition in these pages, for example.

However, that's not all! Kathleen Norris (of Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith and other popular inspirational books) both recommends At the Still Point--and some of Norris' own work appears in these pages. You'll also find just a bit of Garrison Keillor in these pages.

The format of the book is designed to be helpful and flexible week by week: Each of the 29 weeks in the book opens with a prayer (some by famous writers and saints), then suggested scripture readings, then the literary excerpts to read throughout the week (you might even find you want to dip into the entire books you'll sample here--through your library or bookstore), then personal meditation is encouraged and there's a closing prayer in each section.

There is a general thematic arc to the book--from opening weeks about silence and seeking to closing weeks about God's presence and reassurance, but most readers can jump in almost anywhere and start the adventure. The vast majority of Americans tell pollsters that they pray and that their faith matters deeply to them--whether or not we actually find much time for prayerful reflection. Millions of Americans have some prayer book--often more than one--on a shelf at home. If you want to dig deeper into the spiritual adventure of regular prayer, give At the Still Point a chance. By drawing together threads from our literary culture into the fabric of a week-by-week journey into prayer, Sarah has given us a pathway to integrate many of our fears and our hopes into a joyous adventure.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking at the Worship Inherent in the Words, October 14, 2011
By 
Julie D. (Dallas, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time (Paperback)
This unusual devotional is a book after my own heart. Sarah Arthur has thematically arranged classic and contemporary fiction and poetry to look a little deeper at the worship inherent in the words.

Designed for use in Ordinary Time, themes range from "Seeking God's Face" to "Quarrels with Heaven" to "Rending the Veil." Readings are taken from such diverse fiction sources as The Wind in the Willows and Mansfield Park, and from poets spanning the Italian Christina Rossetti to Enuma Okoro, a contemporary Nigerian-American.

I must admit I've had this book since the beginning of Ordinary Time and now we are approaching the end of it. I haven't written a review until now because, to tell the truth, I do not know how to do it justice. However, I will try.

The daily readings pull one into an almost inadvertent practice of Lectio Divina*. It makes me slow down, look outward for God and inward for my self, and brings me to a place I haven't been before.

I usually am not drawn to poetry and the daily immersion leaves me feeling as if I've stepped out of real time when I'm done reading it. It shakes me up mentally in the best possible way. It is transformative, even if I can't label the transformation ... which, now that I think of it, may actually speak to the authenticity of the "shaking up" that these meditations carry for me.

I do wish that the publisher had provided room for the daily scripture readings instead of simply putting the reference. I, for one, am too lazy (yes, I said it and it's true) to go look up the references. It may have taken a few more pages but would have made At the Still Point a complete devotional. However, that is a small point and certainly one that is easy to remedy, if only I overcome my laziness with a bit of forethought in having a Bible to hand.

I hope that this book does well because I would really love it if Arthur did volumes for Advent, Lent, and Easter. Definitely recommended and not just for Catholics or Christians but for all spiritual seekers who love transformation through words.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making "Ordinary Time" Extraordinary, April 16, 2013
This review is from: At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time (Paperback)
Poised to become a collector's item, this book is written with the objective of letting readers appreciate Ordinary Time using good literature and prayer guides. The 29 weeks of readings are designed for use during the period from Pentecost to Advent. Readings such as prayer guides, meditative readings, provoking thoughts and literary masterpieces, are compiled from writers, philosophers, theologians, from the Early Church to the modern era. Arthur has selected the pieces that tend to focus on helping readers to be worshipful in the reading, meditative on the praying, and to cultivate a more reflective and contemplative mood in a society often thought to be busy, distracting, and downright confusing. She calls the anthology a kind of "moonlit garden" to invite readers to walk the long Ordinary Time period, traversing the full range of spiritual experiences "from conviction to calling, quarreling to awakening, dark nights, redemption, and everything in between." The title of each week's readings is a good reference point on where the author is attempting to invite into. Each week follows a similar structure. There is an opening prayer and Scriptures to be read. There are choice readings from various writers and poets, most of them considered classics or masters of spirituality. There are opportunities to pray and reflect upon the readings. At the end of it all, there is a closing prayer, chosen from some of the best worshipful prose and poems.

I am also amazed by the huge collection of materials that dovetail so well into the theme of each week. Arthur brings together the different writers from different eras, selects their literary pieces, and let them speak for themselves. At the same time, she lets them converse with one another through the minds of the reader. One can read slowly or pace steadily. One can also select a few to read at a time, or to read one large passage in a single sitting. Some of the readings are intentionally brief so that the words are given time to sink in and to initiate ripples of creative thoughts. Many of the writings are from 15th to 21st Centuries. There are the Medieval spiritual writers such as Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, John Donne, and St Francis of Assisi. There are famous 17th to 19th Century writers such as Madam Guyon, George Herbert, Christina Rossetti, Richard Baxter, and Leo Tolstoy. The modern era is also well represented with familiar names like CS Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Luci Shaw, Frederick Buechner, Wendell Berry, Chiam Potok, Mary Oliver, Marilynne Robinson, and many more. With such a collection of well-known writers and the high quality pieces, readers are often challenged to remain at the "still point," to reflect upon life. They are invited to ponder the words and the powerful imagery it paints. They are persuaded not to let the world around us mold us into its hurried and non-stop busyness frame of mind. Instead, the reflective reading and contemplative praying is an antidote that helps us move into an unhurried disposition, and a readiness to stop or pause every once in a while without feeling guilty about it.

I recommend this book highly for people who wants to be refreshed in their prayer life, for people who desire opportunities to reflect upon life in God through the most ordinary of circumstances, for those who want to be more contemplative as they live day to day, meet person to person, and to let the book accompany them as they progress through a spectrum of emotions.

If you are planning to go on a spiritual retreat, and wonder what you need to bring, let me recommend at least three things. First, bring a Bible. Second, carry along a hymnal or a book of spiritual songs. This book is a strong recommendation for the third. It is that good.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.

conrade
This book is provided to me free by Paraclete Press without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Literary Guide to Prayer, February 4, 2013
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This review is from: At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time (Paperback)
A dear friend had recommended this book months ago; when I finally bought it, I could see why.

Each week's reflections are orderly, gentle, powerful, rhythmic, and soothing, all by turns. There are ancient prayers and poetry, excerpts from authors loved long ago (George MacDonald, Herman Melville), and others new to me but well loved by others (George and Mary Herbert, Dostoevsky). This is not a sentimental book, or a large squishy greeting card. It is a robust reminder of a broad, rich and wide orthodox heritage that is fresh today.

Pull up a chair and a cup of strong coffee. Start your day - or end it - with words that lift your thoughts to prayer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time, April 18, 2014
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This review is from: At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time (Paperback)
What is "ordinary time"? This little gem will explain that term, and as you follow the weeks of ordinary time this year (for ordinary time is about to begin), the author has found beautiful poetry and excerpts from literature to enhance some of the free hours you may find on your hands this year during "ordinary time." The blessing for me was the author took her literary excerpts from books that I became interested in by reading the excerpts she had chosen -- so I bought the books to read myself -- many of them books I had not heard of before. A mind stretcher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scripture & poetry, November 8, 2013
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This review is from: At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time (Paperback)
Sarah Arthur gets 5 stars just for putting a book like this together! I have a church coffe klatch meeting where we have read scripture and our own spiritual poetry...but we ran out of our poems. Along came Sarah Arthurs book and I feel in love with it. I learned about "ordinary time", and felt the movement of God's Spirit as the weeks went on. The secular writings ignited discussion. We are soaking the words up as sponges. I do hope she is inspired to writ and put together a sequel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars O for the graceful joys; simplicity is sustenance, July 14, 2012
By 
Yasmin H. McEwen "Wisdom falls in between the... (Ice skating over platitudes of longing) - See all my reviews
So many beautiful and soulful readings assembled in this treasured book speak%ng of Ordinary Time, yet yielding writers most definitely anything but ordinary. I recommend this book as a lovely gift to a dear friend or loved one. For to dwell in these lovely quiet rooms surely helps the soul along chaotic hours, stays the soul with a certain quietude that can only come from the holy spirit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great guide with depth and insight., October 18, 2014
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This review is from: At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time (Paperback)
This is another fine devotional book by Sarah Arthur. It has various reading from a wide variety of sources. It is well laid out and user friendly. The author takes a very reverent view of Scripture as well as applying it to modern everyday life. I highly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Using great literature for a starting point for reflection..., June 24, 2013
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This review is from: At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time (Paperback)
can be as deeply moving and enriching as meditating on scripture. These selections were chosen for their beautiful writing and their sense of awe and honest emotion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, February 16, 2013
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This review is from: At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time (Paperback)
This book is wonderful. I enjoy incorporating it into my devotional time. I highly recommend it for anyone that needs a bit of literary input to make their soul soar.
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At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time
At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time by Sarah Arthur (Paperback - May 1, 2011)
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