Running Over Rocks: Spiritual practices to transform
Canterbury Press £14.99
Church Times Bookshop £13.50 (Use code
IT IS remarkably difficult to find books to suggest to
intelligent people who are not at all versed in the Christian
faith, and yet nevertheless are keen to reflect more carefully
about their lives. Running Over Rocks is different. It is
about Christ, but its genius is its subtle invitation to become
more aware about life, which is most fully ex- perienced with
Ian Adams, an Anglican priest, has constructed 52 "practices",
each containing a poem written by the author, a short Bible
passage, a reflection, and a practical challenge. Adams explains in
the introduction: "Every practice is a movement away from the many
destructive and despairing ways of being with which we can find
ourselves colluding, and a movement towards the more creative and
hopeful ways that are already present within us."
Practice 5 explores the goodness of the garden; it opens with a
poem about Eden (with a thoughtful footnote explaining what Eden
is), and reflects on the mystery of abundant growth and the
teaching of Jesus on scattering seeds. The challenge presented here
is to go out and garden Eden: plant seeds, observe growth, and let
it change you. It is deceptively simple.
Another practice invites readers to "greet your passing" and
imagine your own dead body, as the Desert Fathers did. "Taste
Paradise" expands the mystery of the eucharist - with innovative
and tantalising didacticism - and extols the hospitality of the
Church. He also graciously apologises to those who may not have
been received so warmly.
Adams betrays an infectious enthusiasm for new awakenings.
References to experimental movements such as Forest Christ:
mysticchrist.co.uk/forest_church, and maybe.org.uk, add depth and
help to connect his writing to the wider life of the Church. In
Practice 29, "Choose your Icons (become what you see)", Adams
writes about the history and use of icons, inviting us to create
our own icons, and think more carefully about what is on our
screensavers or mobile phones. Melding the ancient and the
up-to-date never feels forced or incongruous at all.
It is unfortunate that the book's subtitle is so negative:
surely Adams is encouraging the transfiguration of the everyday,
not only times of crisis. I will certainly recommend this to
students, but it is too good to be saved for the exam period.
The Revd Jennie Hogan is Chaplain to Goodenough College and
Associate Priest of St Giles's, Cripplegate, in London.