"Soul making involves a willingness to cultivate a certain disposition towards the world and to other people: an attitude of receptivity and openness," writes Alan Jones, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California. The author, a very creative speaker and retreat leader, demonstrates this capacity in spades. Every one of his books is filled with references to novelists, poets, and philosophers of all kinds.
Soul making also has to do with following questions into the mystery and respecting Things Invisible. In this sturdy and wide-ranging paperback, Jones examines the spiritual riches of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, early Christians who taught that life is a school of love and that we must take seriously how much God loves us and wants us to become all we were meant to be. "Sin is a sort of willful forgetfulness of how great and wonderful we are." That sentence can be pondered long and fruitfully given its power and truth! Jones laments the problem of spiritual amnesia and challenges us to spend more time studying "the desert way of believing."
The Desert Fathers and Mothers model a mature spirituality that involves looking, weeping, and living fully. Jones explores these themes in the three sections of the paperback on the invitation to see, entering the emptiness, and the call to joy. Two of our favorite passages recommend viewing death as a companion and a friend, as St. Francis of Assisi did, and respecting the gift of tears. Jones is convinced that tears come out of our deepest needs and yearnings: "The gift of tears is concerned with living in and with the truth and with the new life that the truth always brings. The tears are like the breaking of waters of the womb before the birth of a child." They soften the soul, clear the mind and open the heart. Jones also has some thought-provoking things to say about wonder, attention, love as God's wildcard, and the Trinity.