You may do a double take the next time you notice actor Matthew McConaughey on a magazine cover. Sure, you recognize him as the star of U-571 and EDtv. After reading Public Lives, Private Prayers a compilation of prayers, blessings and poems edited by Mary Reath, youll also know the Zen prayer that inspires him to add "a little rock n roll" to his life. That same passage reflects Senator Bill Bradleys ideas about "the union of work and play." In Public Lives, Private Prayers, actors, authors, world leaders and other well-known public figures share pearls of wisdom, lend earnest advice, and provide instruments to enliven ones religious and spiritual life.
Many people as diverse as McConaughey and Bradley find similar spiritual common ground in Public Lives, Private Prayers. Actress Julie Harris and Richard F. Grein, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of New York, seek solace in St. Teresa of Avilas Prayer; Dow Jones & Co. chairman Peter Kann and Oregon Governor John A. Kitzhaber both find inspiration in the Rudyard Kipling poem "If."
Much more than a recitation of spiritual buzz words, Public Lives, Private Prayers, expresses the deepest feelings of people many of us know only from sound bites on the evening news or saccharine interviews on "Entertainment Tonight." Author Danielle Steel wrote, "Although I dont normally contribute to books and collections about or by allegedly famous people, this subject matter did catch my interest. There are indeed a few standbys I hang onto in hard times" (Isaiah 41:1, Isaiah 41:13).
Organized into six chapters, Public Lives, Private Prayers celebrates the themes of Living, Loving, Working, Doubting, Dying and Adoring. Contributions include texts from Goethe and Emily Dickinson to the Bible and Shakesphere to Hillel the Elder and the prophet Mohammed.
More than 130 people -- including Anna Quindlen, Queen Noor, Sister Helen Prejean, Pete Seeger, Margaret Thatcher, Robert Pinsky, Brigitte Bardot, Ann Landers and George and Barbara Bush -- contributed to Reaths collection of prayers and poems, offering a rare glimpse inside the private, spiritual lives of people we thought we knew. Public Lives, Private Prayers not only illuminates those lives, but ours as well.