*** DEBUG END ***

Journey to the centre of the soul by Andrew Mayes

15 September 2017

Peter McGeary on the spirituality of prayer as a journey inward

IN THE past few months, I have had to lead quiet days for different groups of men and women preparing for ordination. Not having done much of this kind of thing, I was aware that, in my inexperience, I was using far too many words to communicate far too many things. I only hope that they got something out of it all.

Andrew Mayes uses plenty of words in his book, but he does so in a much more focused way than I did, to get the reader to concentrate more closely on particular aspects of the spiritual life. He is an experienced retreat-giver, and knows that any words he uses are there to instil prayer and reflection in the reader.

Rather than throw out lots of ideas to see if some of them will stick, he uses each chapter to drill down and distil reflection on an aspect of the spiritual life: one’s spiritual history, resources that can help, confronting darkness in prayer, being open to surprising things, and so on.

Mayes spent several years living and working in the Holy Land, and this experience gives shape to the text: each chapter comes out from the ground, so to speak, as an observation on some aspect of the geology or geography of a place leads to reflections on the spiritual life and what we can learn. This is, I suppose, a kind of “contextual spirituality”. Each chapter ends with questions to ponder and an exercise to do, which helps to make the book usable by groups as well as individuals.

The Bible has bequeathed to us an inheritance of imagery which Christians cannot help but believe: the ground and what is below is the place of burial, death, the underworld, damnation. To apprehend God ,we need to look up and ascend. And many are the writers who have helped this imagery along, with their circles of hell or their spiritual mountains.

Mayes is rightly not content with this: digging down, going underground, is to do here with profundity, truthfulness, and substance: the journey that can be exhilarating, frightening, and difficult, but which leads to transformation and true enrichment, bringing one closer to the One who is beyond all images.


The Revd Peter McGeary is the Vicar of St Mary’s, Cable Street, in east London, and a Priest-Vicar of Westminster Abbey.


Journey to the centre of the soul: A handbook for explorers

Andrew Mayes

BRF £8.99


Church Times Bookshop £8.10



Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events


Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available


Intercultural Church for a Multicultural World

28 May 2024

A Church Times/Church House Publishing webinar

Tickets are FREE


Church Times/Modern Church:

A Political Faith?

Monday 3 June 2024

This panel will explore where Christians have come to in terms of political power and ask, where should we go next?

Online tickets available


Church Times/Modern Church:

Participating in Democracy

Monday 10 June 2024

This panel will explore the power of voting, and power beyond voting.

Online tickets available


Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)