Jones has served as spiritual director for a number of people in various situations, from face to face to by email. He realizes that many do not have the opportunity to have their own spiritual director so he has written this book as a sort of companion on one's spiritual journey.
He has accumulated a number of meditations on basic themes that have emerged from his spiritual direction sessions over the years. They are arranged alphabetically so there is no developing order. He suggests we pick one meditation, have a pencil and notebook ready, and take a half hour to read, think and write.
Jones points out that it is really the Holy Spirit who leads the work of spiritual direction. In the process of working through the meditations, we are to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit in our work.
One of my favorite meditations is the one called “Being Led – Crookedly.” He writes, “I am where I never planned to be, going in a direction I had never walked, by ways I never expected, through means I never anticipated.” (29) Isn't that just how God leads? Here's a quote from another meditation: “[I] began to realize that a keen indicator of how far one has come in the process of becoming Christian is the willingness to be anonymous, delighted to do secretly the humblest of tasks as if only to please God.” (44)
He asks penetrating questions at the end of each meditation. This is the one on being humbled. “If you were stripped of all your accomplishments, what would be left? Would it be enough?” (67) Here's another. “Whose opinion of you gets in the way of accepting yourself the way Jesus sees you?” (78)
I think that this book would be best used in community. The meditations and questions just beg for discussion. Working through these concepts with a trusted friend or a very small group would be ideal.
Whether you go through the book with a friend or use it on your own, there is a great deal here to help you on your spiritual way. Pick a topic that is of interest to you in your spiritual walk and go to work.
The only thing that makes this book less than what I would have liked is that it is not in any developing order.
Note: I read a complimentary advanced egalley from the publisher for the purpose of this review that had only 106 pages. I trust I have covered the essential aspects of the book in this review.
W. Paul Jones was born into a Methodist family, became a Trappist monk in 1989 and took his life vows for the priesthood in 1992. He has retired as a professor of theology at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City. He directs the Hermitage Spiritual Retreat Center.
Upper Room, 144 pages.