The second half of life—which we can enter at any age—is that time when we begin the process essential to a mature faith: discovering who we are, exploring our relationship with God, and beginning to let go. This part of life has a depth and spirituality all its own—a need for structure and rule, a tolerance of ambiguity, an exploration of limitation and mortality, and the deep work of discipline and detachment. Margaret Guenther brings her insights as a spiritual director to the gifts and opportunities of those of us who are on this journey to “holy ground.” In each chapter, Toward Holy Ground explores the practical aspects of spirituality in midlife: intercessory prayer, a sense of community, a rule of life, lightheartedness, detachment, and stripping down, preparing for “a good death.” A final chapter discusses practical aspects of ministry to the frail aged.
Toward Holy Ground is filled with personal insights and experience, as well as intellectual and spiritual dimensions. Guenther takes the reader on a journey through life - all phases of life, and brings us lovingly to the latter years, complete with a carefully selected saint to share in the adventure! The author takes us from holy ground to kingships, healing, wholeness, and harvest, and finally a good death. There is a deepening of faith and compassion as this reviewer read and re-read the pages. When she ends the book with the chapter, 'Ministering with the Aging' (note that it is ministering WITH), I felt that every lay person and priest of the Episcopal Church should read this chapter as a requirement for ministry at any age... Of the many books I have read over the years dealing with the aging process in the journey of life, this book was one I could not put down, made complete sense for lay and clergy alike, enriched my own spirituality and sense of mission - and was a pilgrimage of renewed ministry. Don't fail to read this one! -- Douglas G. Carner, President ESMA board of directors Written by a priest who is professor of ascetical theology at General Theological Seminary, this is a book for those of any age ready to order their loves - a phrase that struck me as so utterly simple yet essential - and to shape their lives in order to live generously and passionately. Toward Holy Ground is 'concerned with how we live out our professed beliefs, how we sanctify the ordinary, how we cultivate awareness of God in the small and everyday.' And it is wonderful to read! I particularly enjoyed Guenther's skill in connecting Bible stories to daily life and her frequent referral to the apocryphal St. Anne, revered for centuries as God's grandmother, and that Holy Kinship which provided a rich, crowded family life for Jesus. The author's nitty-gritty on developing a rule of life and a rule of play is at once practical and encouraging. I highly recommend Toward Holy Ground for anyone moving toward spiritual direction and discipline and for all others who enjoy a well-written book that helps one take a step further into the faith. -- Sally Bucklee