Susan Bailey reveals in this personal and moving narrative how several major losses helped her rediscover creativity and faith. Filled with powerful insights on the presence and action of grace--in the Mass and sacraments, in nature, and even in grief--River of Grace guides readers to strengthen their faith during tough times and discover their own hidden gifts.
In just a few years' time, Bailey experienced one challenge after another: the deaths of her father and mother, financial issues and the loss of her singing voice.
Using the rich imagery of a river of grace, Bailey describes her journey of transformation beginning with an encounter with favorite author Louisa May Alcott, whose writing on suffering and death offered consolation; that encounter led to her discovery of a late in life vocation as a writer.
Bailey weaves in her Catholic faith, relating how her devotion to the Eucharist inspired her to see Christ's presence in her life and helped her to trust again.
Each chapter relates Bailey's experiences of loss and growth and features original activities and personal rituals that include everything from Joni Mitchell music videos and hot baths to imagery and uncooked spaghetti. These inspirational tools guide readers to reflect on their own experiences. Prayers and poetry are found throughout the book and a set of insightful reflection questions are placed at the end of each chapter.
Ms Bailey is both a truly gifted author and, I believe, the instrument and collaborator of God in creating this richly insightful and warm book. My spiritual journey has been different (I has not been touched by the loss of a dear person - yet!), but there sure have been big and sharp stones on my path, whose had cutted me deeply. I have gained a lot of wisdom and warm "touches", even some healing when reading this book.
I needed to read very slowly, though, and ponder a lot, because practically every word here is so impactful! And I am thankful for that. Not often one encounters such both deep and genuinely human understanding about the hard yet enriching way "through", the way of embracing the flow of their life in the fullest.
Ms Bailey had used her journey through her losses and issues well (I am not saying that it was easy!), and she is a very gentle, even tender companion on the hard way towards the healing, the knowing yourself better, towards the "new person" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Recommended read, even for those who are not touched by some deep loss right now. The wisdom here will serve you well, I am sure of that.
As a creative type this book really "spoke" to me in so many meaningful ways. From the very beginning, with her list of "yeses" I found a kindred soul whose experiences I could learn from and grow from. Part 5 on writing had the most meaning for me, but all of it presented new ways to look at God, self, faith and coping. While I am not Catholic, this book is applicable to other traditions of Christian worship.I have not yet worked with all of the "Flow Lessons," but those I have experienced added to the the rich gleanings from this book.
The author uses the metaphor of kayaking and her personal experiences of family death, health issues and financial problems to help the reader through times of loss and pain. Several exercises involving creativity, art and journaling are included in each chapter. I am not personally in a “difficult time”; I did not do any of the exercises. Rather I bought this at a highly discounted price and wanted to read it before donating it to the parish library. It is likely that the book would have resonated differently with me had I been looking for its answers, had I engaged with its suggested activities. Apart from that, I found the writing mediocre, the insights superficial, the self-reverential examples repetitive.
Susan Bailey shares about the trials and triumphs in her life in her new book River of Grace. She tells how God's mercy has shown her a greater kind of essence, once she let herself glide along with His unending grace.
A running theme that you learn all throughout this book is how creativity and spirituality go together, hand in hand. Susan illustrates this time and again. Susan pauses to personalize the reading and ask you how you can create new life in your surroundings as you allow the river of grace to run through you. In each chapter, she takes time (and allows you to take time) to reflect and focus on your emotions, thoughts, and defining events in your own life. If you take a few moments to perform the suggested activities, and allow creativity to lead the way, you will be blessed with fresh insight and positivity.
For people struggling with grief, this book shows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Freely, the author doles out the pain she encountered on the deaths of her parents, and how greatly her life changed under those circumstances. She then dispenses the successful tools and mental thought process behind obtaining victory over death. Triumph is available to anyone! This is not a story of how to get over grief fast -- but how to deal with it and give your afflictions to the Almighty. You will get through your time of sorrow, and when the grief cycle has ran its course, you will become a more complete person.
Susan Bailey is an accomplished researcher of all things pertaining to American author Louisa May Alcott (Little Women). Myself, also being a reader of Miss Alcott's books, found joy in the way that Susan Bailey shares about her favorite authoress. Miss Alcott's books, which all exude child-like happiness, wedged themselves into Susan's soul and allowed her to identify parallels and discover herself again. It's funny how words that were penned over 100 years ago still create fresh currents in our minds and hearts; it can happen to any of us.
And here's something else I gleaned: Susan and I are both Christians; Susan is a Catholic and I am not. Our religions may differ in actuality, but the similarities are so close. We both believe in God, and that's what counts. In fact, I never realized how closely that Protestant and Catholic Christians are... (You may wonder how I didn't realize this fact growing up -- as I do myself!). My point here is that Susan's writings will touch the reader, whether you believe the same way or not. I know she greatly affected me.
"The river of grace is in constant motion and only when I submit to that motion will I discover the many blessings that lie in the present moment. The longer I am in the river, the richer my life becomes..." (Susan Bailey, River of Grace)
Lovely book. Many a person could benefit from reading it. It can guide you to a discovery of healing and of breaking free from darkness.
Find the flood of God's mercy that flows within, by reading River of Grace by Susan Bailey.
Thanks to the author and Netgalley for the free review copy.