This is the last in a series of three books by the Rev. Bruce Epperly, an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, and Lewis D. Solomon, an ordained post-denominational rabbi. The first two were Mending The World: Spiritual Hope for Ourselves and Our Planet and Walking in the Light: A Jewish-Christian Vision of Healing and Wholeness. This paperback's title comes from a vignette told about Michelangelo. A neighbor asked him what he was doing hammering on a boulder. The sculptor replied, "There's an angel inside, and I'm trying to let him out."
Death is the ultimate boulder that blocks our path to the future. Yet progressive Jews and Christians believe that their traditions offer many helpful tools for transformation and prescriptions for practice during life's most challenging situations. In this hopeful resource, Epperly and Solomon discuss adventures in immortality, healing the dying, living through loss, and mending the broken connection. They observe:
"Healthy spirituality awakens us to the possibility of finding a blessing in our brokenness and a healing in that which cannot be cured. Every moment can be a window into God's Holy Adventure. The death we fear and the grief that haunts us can also awaken us to the deeper movements of Divine Grace in our lives. Experiencing hope in the present finds its source in a hopeful vision of reality and the destiny of ourselves and those we love."
We are living in eternity in the present moment, so we shouldn't waste our time worrying about whether or not we can gain access to heaven. By working for justice, healing, and transformation in the world, we beat a path toward union with the Creator. We were pleased to see the following as well: "Whether our vision of survival after death embraces everlasting spiritual evolution in companionship with God or progressive growth toward the realization of Divine identity through the process of reincarnation, our postmortem adventures involve growing in self-awareness, spiritual stature, and love."
In a thought-provoking chapter on the arts of dying, Epperly and Solomon outline six approaches, including recognizing that you are more than your fear and pain, experiencing peace through practicing forgiveness, encountering eternity every day, experiencing gratitude and being generous in every life situation, and walking in the light. This vision of healthy spirituality by a progressive Christian and a progressive Jew offers hope for a multifaith future in which we can all mine the meanings of all religious traditions for insights into the most difficult issues of both life and death.