Thursday, June 7, 2012
First Things First - A Book Review
Colleen Spiro is a blogger, an author, and a spiritual director. Her newest book is an e-book, First Things First, A Personal Retreat Journal and is available for download (pdf ) and also available on Kindle.
First Things First is a journal that takes you on a spiritual journey as seen through the eyes and heart of the author. It is written with simplicity and the straightforward manner which is the mark of this particular author's writing style. Many of you know Colleen through her blog and Catholic website or from reading her memoir, The Third Floor Window (a personal favorite of mine) and have been blessed by her insights and her ability to pierce through the morass of our messy lives and reach to the heart of things. She has done this once again with First Things First. This book can be used as a retreat guide or for spiritual reading and reflection.
Whenever we read spiritual books under the guidance of the Holy Spirit there are things that have a tendency to "stand out" for each reader. These things that stand out are often areas the Lord is calling our attention to so I am going to write about what jumped out at me.
The first thing that struck a chord in me were Colleen's words about patience and balance. "The message I have been getting today is to be more patient with myself. I expect too much of myself. I expect perfection..."
Got me there. I have a tendency toward perfectionism, especially in the spiritual life (which is a mark of pride). Unfortunately, my idea of perfect and God's are miles apart.
"My life is out of balance."
Mine too. Until we understand that we need to let go of our rigid hold on life (our idea of perfect) our lives will never be balanced. Like Colleen, I have a tendency to multi-task. Multi-tasking robs me of my peace and makes me feel as if I am rushing through life and using my time unwisely. A wise use of time is to focus on the task at hand and live in the present moment. Colleen touches upon this widespread problem in her book. We live in a world that focuses on rushing and productivity and many of us need to slow down so we can hear the Lord instead of our inner tumult.
And then came these words: "I am worried about the birds. They look exhausted trying to beat their wings with the wind and the rain pelting down on them. There are enough trees around here for them to rest in. Why don't they?"
I read these words over and over. At first I couldn't understand why they struck me like a ton of bricks. And then I realized...I felt like one of those birds. Pelted by the storm and beaten by the wind. When she mentioned trees, a mental picture of the Tree of the Cross formed in my mind and I knew Jesus was telling me to bring my disordered life to the foot of the cross and take refuge in His opened side.
Colleen's book is all about putting things in their proper order. I'll leave you with this quote:
"First things first. Put God first in my life and let everything flow from there."
As an interesting side note: I have been wanting to do this book review ever since I first read the book but I kept getting a check in the spirit (a "not yet") and couldn't figure out why. Today I felt the nudge to write it and after finishing the review I realized that this e-book would be a good book for those who are trying to discern if their aridity in prayer is due to measures beyond their control or due to an imbalance in their spiritual lives. The Lord lined it up after my post on aridity. The second thing I noticed is the theme of the book lined up with today's Gospel reading. Interesting.