Published in the Catalyst, Vol. 33, No. 1 - Summer 2010
Beauty, Wonder and Belonging: A Book of Hours for the Monastery of the Cosmos
By James Conlon
Barnes and Noble Publishers, 2009
Reviewed by Sheila McKinley, OSU
We deny ourselves our deepest delight by not participating in the dawn, the dusk, the solstice, the springtime.
These words are Thomas Berry's, the renowned Passionist priest, cultural historian and leader in ecological thinking. James Conlon has dedicated this book to Berry. It is designed specifically to help us reflect prayerfully at dawn and dusk each day.
This slim volume is not intended to be a fast read. Pausing and pondering are what the author has in mind. The book has a section for each day of the week. He addresses The Universe Story, Mystery, The Sacred, The Human, This Moment, Struggle and Fulfillment, and Cultural Therapy. The same form is used each day and includes an explanation of the theme, a reflection, a prayer, a story, quotations from prophetic voices, time for silence and a response.
Conlon aims, in his reflections and poem-prayers, to help us make the connection between the sacred truths of our faith tradition and the fresh insights into the nature of modern science. He invites the reader to ponder the sacred nature of the universe and to recognize oneself as a member of the Earth community.
The book provides an opportunity to pause as we begin and end our day. Taking quiet time opens us to the wonders of our world that we miss in our frantic rush to do good, and is an excellent antidote for an exaggerated sense of our importance.
This is a book that would be a good source for shared reflection or for a week long retreat.