David Russell Mosley
23 April 2017
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire
Well over a month ago I received the book Busy Lives and Restless Souls from Patheos to review for you here. While I did read the book as soon as I received it, I let the review languish. So here is something of an ironic unreview or non-review of the book.
Reading the book was an interesting experience since, when I read it, I was both not the target audience and yet precisely the target audience. The book was rather clearly targeted at the stay-at-home mom or the work-from-home mom. Clearly, I am not a mother. Nevertheless, at the time I was reading it, I was the primary stay-at-home/work-from-home parent. So much of the book ought to have resonated with me. And yet it largely didn’t.
That’s not to say it is a bad book. I think many could learn something from Eldredge who is a trained spiritual director. The book largely follows an Ignatian plan focusing on prayer and contemplation. Eldredge encourages making space and time in your life for prayer, suggesting ways and means to do this even when you’ve got multiple children and a spouse vying for your attention. And I think many of her suggestions can be put into practice, but only if you lead the kind of life that makes that possible. For instance, she never really discusses what to do if you work two part-time online jobs from home while watching your kids, while your spouse works part or full-time outside of the home; or what to do if you’re a single parent; or what to do if you’re married without kids; or what to do if you’re not married. Now, this could be me not reviewing the book I’ve been given, but if prayer can help me with the busyness of my life (and I do believe it can) then I’d hope for a book that could speak to multiple types of busy lives.
So here I am, too busy for Busy Lives and Restless Souls, or at least too busy to engage it fully as I have so many other books I want and now (as a high school English teacher) must read over the next 7 weeks. If you find yourself looking for a book on prayer in the midst of a busy life, I’m not sure I’d recommend this one. I am, of course, biased against living authors (despite being one myself). So I might recommend that you read the spiritual writings of Ignatius of Loyola (or about him); or that you get connected with a Jesuit trained Spiritual Director (like Eldredge) or any other kind of spiritual director to help you with your prayer life. What I can say is this: we need to slow down, to make room for prayer, for silence, for contemplation. It might seem impossible in certain instances, and it may be actually impossible in certain periods of our lives (especially as we live in a culture inimical to silence and contemplation). But we do need to seek after it. Christ needed his time on the mountains and away from crowds. So do we, even when those crowds are our family.