Beyond the Edge: Spiritual transitions for
Andrew D. Mayes
Church Times Bookshop £9.90
BEYOND THE EDGE provides plenty to ponder. Each of the
ten chapters centres on a Gospel record of Jesus, helpfully linked
to its particular location in the Holy Land. So the first chapter
is about Jesus's baptism, located in the River Jordan, and a later
chapter explores his conversation with the woman at Jacob's well in
Samaria (John 4). Mayes describes the significance of each place
(he has lived in the Holy Land) as well as explores the Gospel text
and its implications for Jesus, other people present, and for
The basis for the book is that Jesus was always on the move, and
that he challenged his disciples and others to make spiritual
transitions in each change. I was not feeling an "adventurous
soul", and so I feared being set impossible challenges.
Reassuringly, I found that Mayes draws out different ways of
responding which fit the reality that life never stands still.
Also Mayes understands transition itself as a process, not as a
moment. Many chapters, therefore, include insights from Teresa of
Ávila, the Desert Fathers, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, and others in
the Christian tradition who have journeyed spiritually themselves
and have sought to help others do so, too. Readers do not need to
be experts: there is enough to provoke thinking and start
conversations. Indeed, each chapter includes "Questions for
Reflection" and "Prayer Exercise(s)" to do now, and suggestions
"For further reading" to explore later.
Mayes hopes that spiritual directors - those who accompany and
encourage others on their own spiritual journeys - will be among
readers of Beyond the Edge. So, in the appendix, he
reflects back and raises questions for spiritual directors. For
example, in relation to the Syrophoenician woman, he asks how
comfortable we are with the idea of the spiritual director as an
irritant. And, in relation to the storm on the lake, Mayes asks
about our own experience of the storm of prayer, and how the
experience might help us in supporting others.
For me, none of his questions has a quick answer; so this is a
book that I will go back to as a spiritual director, with others
and for myself.
Dr Anne Spalding is a member of the Third Order of the
Society of St Francis, and lives in Suffolk.