Friday, May 25, 2012

Plant Spirit Medicine, The Healing Power of Plants, by Eliot Cowan

Plant Spirit Medicine, The Healing Power of  Plants, by Eliot Cowan. – Although we are well aware of the part that plants play in medicine –such as in quinine and many other remedies originating from plants, this author goes much deeper into the plant/medicine relationship. He has met and worked with healers, “shamans” who are convinced that plants (as everything else in creation) are endowed with a spirit.  It is the spirit of the plants that they contact, by means of dreams and other methods. These healers have learned ancient plant/medicine lore from indigenous tribes in western North America, such as the Raramuri or the Tarahumara and the Lakota, and there is a number of them who are still healing with this method. Cowan has spoken with them, learned about plant spirit medicine, and witnessed dramatic cures, both physical and spiritual.

The first-hand accounts that Cowan gives of speaking with a number of these shamans, witnessing their contacts with the spirits of plants and the unmistakable cures that result are so foreign to our experience that it seems incredible.  But reading the many glowing reviews of doctors and others in the field of medicine praising Cowan’s discovery of the ancient practice of plant spirit medicine as a wonderful and spiritual approach to holistic healing and  referring to Plant Spirit Medicine as “A trailblazing book that explores an old way of healing through the spirit of plants” casts it in a more favorable and authentic light.  Eliot Cowan is even called “the American healer.”  I invite you to read this remarkable book.  

This Blessed Mess, Finding Hope Amid Life’s Chaos, by Patricia H. Livingston

In this small book Ms Livingston gives us ( in the words of Henri J.M. Nouwen) “eyes for the hidden treasures of our lives.” She says she has discovered that life can be chaotic at times, and that it is not true that working hard and doing what we think is right will guarantee a favorable outcome.

As this author is wont to do, she sprinkles into her pages dozens of stories, most of them good-natured and filled with encouragement and hope but also a measure of chaos. She shares how she tames these times of chaos, and she says that they are often filled with energy and power. She calls these chaotic times “messiness”—and she finds that along with the “messy” parts there are blessings, which we too can find if we but look. Among the secrets of transforming chaos into a blessing are to approach it with a good sense of humor, to focus on the concerns and needs of others, to pay attention to the good in every situation; and also to remind ourselves of times when we came through chaos well and unscathed.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Persistent Peace, One Man's Struggle for a Non Violent World by John Dear, SJ

A Persistent Peace, One Man’s Struggle For A Non Violent World, by John Dear, SJ.

This powerful autobiography of a nationally known peace activist is the amazing story of what one man is doing to put into action his belief in the power of peace and the possibility of a world where peace and love conquer war and hatred.  John Dear has been arrested more than 75 times, has spent more than a year in prison for his persistent message of peaceful non-violence, and is persevering in this mission despite the anger and indifference he has continually encountered.

As a young man he was an accomplished pianist, and at one time dreamed of becoming a rock star. But when he recognized the call to the priesthood and to the Jesuits, and to a lifetime commitment to peace and justice, he continued this calling with amazing courage,   both moral and physical. Inspired primarily by the example of Mahatma Gandhi, and also by that of   Dr,. Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Dan and Phil Berrigan, Oscar Romero, Mother Theresa, Dorothy Day, and many other champions of peace and non-violence, and strengthened by his own deep spirituality and convictions, keep him on the quest for peace.

In time he protested the wars in the Gulf, in Vietnam and Iraq, The U.S. support of brutal regimes in Central America, civil war in North Ireland, the building and use of nuclear arms, and anything anywhere in the world that is contrary to peace. He is author/editor of 20 books on peace and non-violence, speaks to huge crowds, has often participated in acts of civil disobedience, -- and has done an incredible amount of pro-peace actions. He ends his story with acknowledgments of and gratitude to countless friends and supporters and dedicates his life and this book to the non-violent Jesus of Nazareth! He hails the coming of a world without poverty,  war or nuclear weapons. The book is inspiring and has a powerful message.