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Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God Paperback – January 12, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Awaken Your Senses is a wonderful resource that encourages us all to realize life while we're living it -- and tahnk the Giver of all good gifts as we do." (Michelle van Loon, Englewood Review of Books, Lent 2012)

"Modeling the best Sunday School teachers, Bill and Booram get close to God via the five senses. The journey could so easily have been a skip instead of a sail; however, they truly manifest the book's purpose: 'to help more of you experience more of God'. . . . It adds up to a deeply pleasing book." (Publishers Weekly, December 12, 2011)

"Awaken Your Senses by J. Brent Bill and Beth A. Booram is a beautiful invitation to explore and embody the sacred sensual world. This delightful work invites us into a greater integration of head and heart, mind and spirit, through the use of mindful and creative exercises. It is a wonderful companion and guide for becoming more centered, present and aware in the midst of a busy life. What a joy to drink deep of Awaken Your Senses!" (Carrie Newcomer, Rounder recording artist, The Geography of Light)

"Awaken Your Senses invites us to notice God's movement in and around us. These pages grant us a permission to remember, and yet be more present through the conduit of our senses. This is the sort of resource that can help us keep a more rhymed company with God." (Randy D. Reese, author of Spiritual Mentoring)

"Amazingly, we become dull to something as extraordinary as life, and bored by someone as awesome as God. This book woke me up without beating me up, and gave me tangible, practical ways to savor the sacrament of life, to have genuine gratitude for my body and its senses, and to sink into the glory of God until I felt nothing but joy. Read this and be blessed." (James Bryan Smith, author of The Good and Beautiful God)

"With Awaken Your Senses, Brent Bill and Beth Booram have given us a superb resource for seeking the God of life through sensuous experience, a way of knowing that has been sadly neglected--and too often held suspect--by the church. How did a faith based on the claim that 'the Word became flesh' become so divorced from bodily, incarnate knowledge? Here is a beautiful book that will help us reclaim our bodies, our senses and our relationship with God." (Parker J. Palmer, author of Let Your Life Speak)

"This book is a feast for the senses. It is an invitation to see, hear, smell, taste and touch deeper spiritual realities through physical senses that are awake and alert to God in all of life. It gently but powerfully leads us into a life that is truly sacramental and enriched through the use of Scripture, personal stories and beautiful images." (Juliet Benner, spiritual director and author of Contemplative Vision)

About the Author

Brent Bill is a writer, retreat leader and Quaker minister. He's the author and coauthor of many books, including Awaken Your Senses, Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment, Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality, Mind the Light: Learning to See with Spiritual Eyes, Holy Places: Matching Sacred Space with Mission and Message, and Imagination and Spirit: A Contemporary Quaker Reader. In addition, he is the author of more than one hundred short stories, nonfiction articles and the popular blog Holy Ordinary. Bill is a graduate of Wilmington College and the Earlham School of Religion. He has been a local church pastor, denominational executive, seminary faculty member and go-cart track operator. He lives with his wife on Ploughshares Farm, fifty acres of Indiana farmland that is being reclaimed for native hardwood forests and warm season prairie grasses.

Beth Booram is the co-founder and director of Sustainable Faith Indy, an urban retreat center in Indianapolis, where she leads The School of Spiritual Direction and offers individual and group spiritual direction. Beth speaks around the country on topics related to spiritual formation and Christian leadership and has been involved for more than thirty years in a variety of ministry roles on the college campus and within the local church. Beth is a deep feeler who loves to think, an extrovert with a penchant for solitude, and an artist who sees the hand of God in even the smallest encounters with creation. She and her husband David live near downtown Indianapolis in their 100-year-old home and retreat center. She has authored several books including Awaken Your Senses, Picturing the Face of Jesus and The Wide Open Spaces of God.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (January 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830835601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830835607
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Buddhists famously call it mindfulness. Christians have many names for it. In Awaken Your Senses, two nationally known retreat leaders and congregational consultants are opening up their own toolboxes and sharing techniques to enliven the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. In these days when worship often is becoming a high-tech spectator sport, the first two senses are humming along--but the others are left out. And, in fact, even the full spectrum of spiritual sight and sound are narrowed in many churches.

J. Brent Bill is best known as a popular Quaker writer and I also highly recommend his earlier Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment. He has spent many years as a head of an Indianapolis nonprofit that helps congregations solve problems. Beth Booram may be better known in evangelical circles and for her years of work leading retreats in a wide range of Christian congregations. If you are drawn toward this basic idea, you may also want to check out Beth's earlier books, Picturing the Face of Jesus: Encountering Christ through Art and The Wide Open Spaces of God: A Journey With God Through the Landscapes of Life. Together, as a team, Brent and Beth draw from many Christian streams and shares the ideas with practical invitations to use them in daily life.

Primarily, this is a Christian book, drawing from the Bible and a long tradition of inspirational writers including both Catholic and Protestant voices.
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Format: Paperback
I received a review copy of this book several months ago. One of the challenges of reviewing books is that there are some books that do not fit easily on a timetable. When you read some books, you want to slow down, absorb, and savor them. Awaken Your Senses is one such book.

In the spirit of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, Bill and Booram describe several spiritual exercises to help their readers draw closer to God. Each of these spiritual exercises focus on one of the five senses with which we engage the world.

This technique of using one's senses to open doors to encountering God is thoroughly Biblical. The authors go to great measures to establish this as they introduce their text. After all, doesn't the Scripture say, "taste and see", "open your ears", "hear what the Lord says" and more?

Bill and Booram describe their methodology as developing "sensuous faith". In the book there are 30 exercises, as well as 5 "art reflections". With the thirty reflections there are 6 exercises for each of the 5 senses. These exercises begin with a short reflection, followed by a further explanation of what the exercise is attempting to teach, then the technical nature of the exercise is explained so the reader can practice the spiritual exercise, and then finally there is some brief reflection based upon the experience prescribed. There are more exercises at the end of the book. These activities appear that they would take a little larger time investment, and perhaps more of a larger group to practice.

In the world of spiritual formation literature, there is very little that is original. Awaken Your Senses and these exercises are thought provoking, and the text is very original, with a little bit of a "classical" quality at the same time.
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Format: Paperback
To write this book, the two authors --- J. Brent Bill, a Quaker, and Beth Booram, a spiritual director seasoned in various forms of ministry --- each embarked on "a series of thirty-day experiments with each of the senses": taste, sight, touch, hearing and smell. The personal experiments are occasionally mentioned in the book, but this is not a journal by any means.

The goal of the book is to increase the reader's awareness of the wonder, beauty and mystery of God, who is present to us in and through our senses --- physically, through our bodies, which the apostle Paul calls temples of the Holy Spirit, and metaphorically.

Except in the general introduction and conclusion, Bill and Booram stay away from the tricky second-person-plural voice. In alternating chapters, one author and then the other presents short reflections on specific aspects of each of the five senses. Each chapter (of 30) ends with a suggested exercise for personalizing the theme. "The point" of the exercises "is to help more of you --- your whole brain, all five senses and your body --- experience more of God."

In the opening anecdote of a "touch" chapter by Bill, "Touching Absence," he relates his discovery, while at worship, that his car keys are not in his pocket as they should be. He has a hard time concentrating, because he is so aware of their absence. At the end of the chapter, one of several spiritually exercising questions asks, "What thing, when you do not feel it where it should be, feels like God's absence?"

After finishing the book, I looked at the table of contents to note which chapters I had circled as "likes." Had I gravitated toward one author more than the other? No. Two chapters each. Two of those likes were in the section about hearing.
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