A Meditation Book Review: A Monk’s Alphabet

by | Jul 20, 2006

Adapted from an email from Shambhala Press:


Father Jeremy Driscoll, the author of this lovely book of meditations, is a Benedictine monk who is also a poet and theologian–and a kind of jet-setter (for a monk), as he divides his year between the diverse worlds of his monastery in rural Oregon and the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, where he is a professor. A Monk’s Alphabet is a meditation book on a variety of topics close to his heart. They are meant to be read in random order rather than consecutively, so that you can be surprised
by his thoughts just as he was when they arose. He has given each of the 187 miniature essays an arbitrary title and arranged them alphabetically, from “Airplane” to “Zaccheus,” in order to emphasize
the randomness with which he hopes the reader will approach the book.

Here are two examples:

CLUMSY. All my longing, all my restlessness, my worry, my sense of failure–perhaps all of this is just my clumsiness at finding myself in contact with the divine and eternal realities in which I am immersed. I mean God. I am immersed in God through the finite forms he has created and placed among us for touching his infinite form. Of course, one is all mixed up at first.

EGG. We hardly think of it when we do it, but to do it without breaking it a knowledge is required that is acquired. I mean picking up an egg with the right force. Too much and it would break all gooey in my hand. Too little and I drop it. But surely many other things are like this, and the egg is its image. The egg as an image of moderation! I need to learn this. Moderation is an acquired knowledge of not too much and not too little, and its application changes according to circumstances. Not to break the egg and not to let it drop–the goal of my life.

If on reading this meditation book review you pre-order the book from Powell’s, I get a 15% commission; which I like, and you’ll be supporting an independent bookseller, which I think is good for everybody.

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