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Seasons of Death and Life: A Wilderness Memoir Paperback – July 22, 2016
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About the Author
Maggie Ross is an Anglican Solitary responsible to Bishop Rowan Williams. She is the author of The Fire of Your Life: A Solitude Shared; The Fountain and the Furnace: The Way of Tears and Fire; Pillars of Flame: Power, Priesthood, and Spiritual Maturity; Writing the Icon of the Heart: In Silence Beholding; and Silence: A User's Guide, vol. 1: Process. She blogs at ravenwilderness.blogspot.com.
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Roughly speaking, the first half of the book is taken up by her exquisite descriptions of the woods where she lives, her growing appreciation and respect for the beauties and dangers of the deep woods, and her growing friendships, with the second half being the "death and life" part of the title. While her calling is that of a 20th-century hermit, most of the folks she shares the forest with are also, in their way, hermits. They have all chosen a life apart. And, following in the footsteps of the solitaries of the past, Ross finds that living alone in no way separates her from her God, nor, indeed, does it separate her from her own pain and doubt, accumulated over the decades. She bares her soul to us, and gives us a glimpse of the extraordinary grace that is available to those who earnestly seek it.
Her authentic humanity, in conjunction with her struggles with God, form the underlying flow of this memoir. Her writing is moving without being maudlin, spiritual without being preachy. Anyone having difficulties relating to the Christian God will find here a taste of the fresh, cool waters that the Psalmist writes of. Ross suffers greatly during her sojourn in the woods, but it is to our benefit.
Although her language occasionally gets a little "wordy", especially toward the beginning, Ross manages to make her points without preaching, not sparing herself, or others. Her imagery is lucent and beautiful, for the most part, and some parts of the book are actively hilarious and sad at the same time. Reminiscent of Annie Dillard. An insightful, beautiful and thought-provoking book, and one I am very glad to own.