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The book I have given away most and why: Susan Pietsch

Faith book reflections

“The author encourages me to stop yanking and shoving on the door to spiritual growth, and instead wait patiently for it to open,” says Susan Pietsch from Holy Hermits Online

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I was lucky enough to win a book voucher for St Paul’s Book Centre on Elizabeth St, Brisbane, and one of the books I gained that day was Joyce Rupp’s Open the Door: A Journey to the True Self. What appealed to me was the author’s use of the metaphor of the door. When unwelcome changes occur in our lives we often refer to the saying “when one door closes, another opens” as a way of looking ahead to the future with hope. Rupp’s book, however, uses the image of a door to invite the reader to look within — to open the door of their heart. One of the people she quotes is writer and recipient of the President’s Medal for Social Justice Clarissa Pinkola Estés:

“Asking the proper question is the central action of transformation…Questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open.”

Each chapter is a week-long invitation to pause, reflect and respond to the questions posed with daily readings, a meditation, prayer, question and scripture quote to carry with you into the rest of the day. A six-week framework is suggested, and I always start with good intentions to follow this timeline, but tend to wander off. Some of Rupp’s questions need a bit more time to ponder and life can be so distracting, but it is always a joy to return to.

The problem with timelines for me, however, is that I can end up expecting something to happen within that set period! Rupp reminds me that “opening the door to our inmost self entails ample amounts of patience” (p.82). Surrendering to the slow unfurling of spiritual growth is at odds with our current instant satisfaction culture. Gunilla Norris is quoted in the book as describing it like this:

“If we do not have immediate and recognizable
progress we feel like quitting.
Here is where many of us give up.
We shut the door. We say,
What’s the use? I don’t see anything different.
This is not adding up to anything.
I don’t feel any better, and I’m not able to do this.” (p.82-83)

The author encourages me to stop yanking and shoving on the door to spiritual growth, and instead wait patiently for it to open. Thus, allowing my progress through the book to go beyond six weeks is not failure, but a true response to the questions posed. Hurry-sickness is something I have battled throughout my life, getting caught up in the unspoken demand of “faster, faster”. Remembering to slow down and as Richard Rohr says “fall in love with [my] life” (p.82) places my relationship with God first.

It’s a book I have recommended to a number of people to help them also pause, slow down and stop yanking on doors.

 Joyce Rupp, 2008. Open the Door: A Journey to the True Self. Sorin Books, Notre Dame USA.

Editor’s note: Susan Pietsch is a coordinator of 3D Dialogue, an exciting Holy Hermits Online deep dive into the Divine, drawing upon multiple resources. Visit the Holy Hermits Online website to find out more about 3D Dialogue, including upcoming Zoom meeting dates.

If you would like to share with other readers what faith-related book, including those with theological, spiritual, ministry, Church history or justice themes, you have given away (or referred) the most and why, please email the anglican focus editor, and Michelle will let you know what is needed. 

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