Saturday 21 May 2016

A Liturgy of the Heart - Douglas Ross

A Liturgy of the Heart
Douglas Ross
Principled Dynamics

I have read this book through three times now. Each time I get a little more of it. In some ways it reminded me of one of my favorite books over the last 15 years, Jacob the Baker by Noah Ben Shea, which is a book that I read at least yearly. It is also reminiscent of Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman or The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. But with your underlying catholic beliefs it comes across more at Henri Nouwen or Thomas Merton. I have already recommended this book to a number of friends all of whom have found it useful and have deeply engaged with the material. I am looking forward to meeting with them and discussing this book face to face. It would make a great read for a discussion group of book club.

I have sat thinking about how to write a review of this book for a number of weeks. I know I enjoyed it, I know it has had an impact on both my heart and my mind, but I struggle to put it into words. In many ways the book speaks to learning again that the heart is the seat of the soul and not the head. In our intellectual and academic society that knowledge often gets forgotten and we start living more and more from our head. As we journey with Douglas we learn to see and listen to our hearts again, and through balancing the heart with the mind find our path and purpose. Douglas puts into words what some of us suspect, or get glimpses of. As such I will simply provide a number of quotes from the text itself to give you a small feel, and hopefully it will be enough to entice you to give it a read and see what sort of impact it has on you and your heart.

"It took me to places I never expected. For example, I never would have believed my heart was the Promised Land nor would I have thought that walking through the valley of the shadow of death was the only way out of my self-imposed exile. Exploring aspects of the heart was frightening. Speaking about what was previously unknowable and unexplainable was challenging."

"The heart is the deepest interior part of our lives. The heart is the place where we are alone with ourselves and life itself as we know it."

"It was in this journey that I found the answers to my two major questions. Who am I and what is true happiness?"

"A liturgy is a fixed set of ceremonies that are used during public worship. A ceremony is a formal series of actions prescribed by ritual, protocol or convention. So a liturgy is a dance of worship with a specific sequence of steps and movements."

"The revelation unveils how each choice we make in our lives either moves us closer to or away from the possibility of the heart."

"You can heed the call of the heart or not. It is your choice. You are a free human being in the world. You can choose what you will when you will. The call of the heart is a call away from the world back to reality."

"Einstein said, "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one". In other words, the main event is not the main event. There is something else going on."

"Your stories explain the continual unfolding of life's duality - body and soul, mind and heart, word and deed, love and hate, work and play, sacred and profane, solitude and unity, success and failure."

"Your stories are your automatic way of relating and reacting. They are the intention behind all your actions and adventures."

"A journey into the heart is a choice. It is an adventure."

"Life is for the strong and the brave, the cunning, the survivor, the champion - you are all those things. But you can be more. So much more if you could stop doing and just be."

"My blind spots are unconscious and self-serving. In my opinion, they interfere with my inner work of my heart and cause me unnecessary suffering."

"I don't feel broken because I am so used to being broken that I forgot what it is like to be unbroken."

"Pay attention to how you are being when you are doing what you do."

"You are these people when you judge others as hypocrites. Do not judge. Accept. You are these people when you condemn self-righteousness. Do not condemn. Forgive. You are these people when you deny the illness in your heart. Do not deny. Confess! You are these people when you justify your conflicted intentions. Do not justify. Apologize! You are these people when you rationalize your diseased actions. Do not rationalize. Rectify! You are these people when you blame others for your unpleasant results. Do not blame. Change!"

Douglas's prose may not be perfect, but he puts forth perfect effort. He tries to capture his own experience and relate it in a way that we his readers can learn from it. He is a man how has been through a tremendous amount of upheaval, uncertainty and loss. And through those events he has learned some great lesson's maybe some of the most important lessons in life. And he shares them with us, in their rawness, and with humility and transparency. This book is a wonderful read with some amazing illustrations by his daughter. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Books by Douglass Ross:
A Liturgy of the Heart

With Karla Brandau:
Discretionary Effort Leadership
The Leadership of One

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