Visited a friend today and, sitting amongst her lovely camellia flower bush was a Mama robin, nesting. As much as I wanted to capture this grace-filled moment and move the leaves/flowers for a different perspective, I didn’t want to disrupt her, so carefully and quietly took her photo from where I was. She was so still, so intent on her calling. It was … A Moment In Time.

We each have Moments In Time in our lives. Moments where what we are doing … how we are feeling … where we are standing … what we are experiencing … is perfect. Moments where happiness, joy, peace, love, contentment overwhelm us and we feel connected to God/the Universe/another human being in a way that transcends words. Moments where we realize that we are here on Planet Earth for a purpose. We may not know or understand that purpose but for that Moment In Time, our soul speaks and we listen.

As I looked through the lens of my camera this afternoon and Mama robin focused on her calling, I experienced a precious, profound and powerful Moment In Time.

Thank you Mama rRobinInNext-1-DSCN4789obin; thank you Creator, for that gift.

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There’s something about Nature that continues to remind me of the miracles around us if we have eyes to see … like this tree. When I first walked in front of it, I kept on walking but then I turned back. I wanted to see if what I thought I saw, I really did see. I took its photo – just to be certain. But there it was … a face within – not carved by human design but carved by Nature and complete with hair (albeit green)!

A smile began to form on my face – I could feel it. And once again, I was aware of the connectedness of all Creation. To ignore our forests, our waterways is to ignore a precious gift we have been given.

This night, my prayer is for this fragile planet, Earth.



May all who dwell on it treat it with gentleness and loving respect. May we be guided by need rather than greed in our connection with the oceans and lands, remembering the generations that follow will need fresh water and healthy sea life to drink and eat and they will need growth in forests – to heat and breathe. May the sanctity of the created order be treated with civility and common sense.

Thank you ‘Face in a Tree’ for your reminder that just as we need you and all Creation to survive, you need all of us to survive.

It was just a photo, that’s all
just a photo
- a photo of a young man in uniform hanging in a frame in a living room window.
What was it about that photo that grabbed at my heart?
What was it about that photo that created a deep chasm in my soul?
What was it about that photo that brought tears to my eyes
and gripped my chest so I couldn’t breathe?
It couldn’t be named.
I only knew that my soul had been touched
my mind raced
my emotions felt
and I understood them not.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the salute.
The car’s driver saluted the photo quietly, quickly, calling no attention to himself.
For a moment, he was in another world
- a world that connected him to this young man
- a world that united them as siblings of conflict
- a world that reminded him of the fragility of life and the happenstance of circumstance.
He in the photo, eighteen or so.
He in the car, old enough to be grandfather.
And yet, for that one brief moment, they were brothers.
Salutes happen all the time every day, on every land, in every continent.
But this one …
This one was different.



  last night I saw
touched the holy

 it was brief

 in just a few moments it
was gone and in those
seconds the colour, the contrast of sky
and trees, the sacredness of it all took away
my breath and wonder filled
my soul and peace entered again




In the Jewish tradition when someone dies, friends and family often leave a stone at the grave. There are several reasons for this, but for me, because stones don’t die, I find them to be a reminder that a gravesite is a holy place.

Lately, I’ve been discovering some Facebook posts are holy places for me. Sometimes I leave a note. Sometimes I click “like”. And sometimes, when what has been written is received as ‘holy’ – when my heart is touched – when the tears are close or flowing –  when my soul soars – when I experience Grace – when I see holy Presence in the words – and I have no response, I just leave a simple “o” because for me, the “o” (the shape of a stone) represents the Oneness that unites us and expresses holy words.


Lessons abound each day … opportunities to develop spiritually; be challenged intellectually; discover things about other people, about God, about ourselves. Sometimes, learning is rich and wonderful, exciting and a gift; sometimes learning is difficult, discouraging and yes, even hurtful


 The question is, who would want to live a life where there was no personal growth? Not me. I want to be a student who is willing to receive Life’s Lessons – like this one which I learned many years ago.


Such wisdom. Truly, life is far too short and too precious to allow such people to be a negative influence and drain our time, energy and spirituality.

Bigger Than It Looks, January 5, 2013

I’ve been reading Soulistry for five days now, and I am only on the second page. I think this little book is bigger than it looks! I have read many good books on creativity, inspiration and spirituality, but this one is different. It’s a guide, but not a how-to book of activities and projects. Journaling is strongly suggested, but not required. The format is simple: a quote (journal prompt) followed by questions to ponder.

A myriad of topics from aging to mystery to God are touched upon. The book can be read in a day, or it might take a year to get through it. Every prompt with its set of questions stands on its own. I would suggest that the reader become familiar with the back of the book which contains the epilogue and the appendices before reading and working with the prompts and questions.

June Maffin knows that a good teacher does not give students answers, but instead poses questions that will lead the students to the answers.

Personally, I find journaling to be a powerful tool as a prelude to doing art especially if it incorporates calligraphy. The quotes (prompts) and Soul-Questions of Soulistry become a vehicle for transforming the written word into a visual concept.    Journaling facilitates the transformation with deep personal meaning.

So, the journaling becomes imagery, a sketchbook.    Soul + Artistry = Soulistry.   (Amazon review)

Bk Review: Patte Leathe (Amazon reviewer)

This book is a wonderful tool to getting inside the creative process, delving into the spiritual aspects of creating art.

Sharing this process was a wonderful gift from the author.



We all grieve.  Some grieve privately; some grieve publicly; some grieve when and where they need to; some have short moments when they allow themselves to grieve; and some shove their grief down deep inside them and carry on only to find the grief erupting years/decades later in unsuspecting ways.
When we don’t find ways to name our grief, to face our grief, to deal with our grief, the next time something comes along that represents ‘loss’ to us, the building blocks that help us deal with grief in general are missing so our time of healing is often more difficult than it might be had we dealt with each moment of loss as it happened.
Loss of any kind – a loved one; employment; housing; financial security; family pet; limb; eyesight; income; mobility; hearing; intellect; 
relationship; chronically-ill partner/spouse/close friend, etc. affects us whether we want to acknowledge that or not.

Mourning the loss of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, dealing with health issues, financial concerns, the loss of their job, family pet, eyesight, income, mobility, hearing, intellect, etc. – we seldom give ourselves time to do healthy grieving.  Being gentle with ourselves is important whenever we encounter stress (and ‘loss’ of any kind is stressful) in our lives.  Making time to grieve our loss is vital to our overall health. Over the years, countless people have participated in the “Healthy Grieving” workshops and retreats I’ve run, but over the years, I’ve come to realize that for some, such settings are too public for them.

So, I created a Healthy Grieving Ritual for Individuals and hope that it is of help to those who continue to grieve the loss of any kind.  The Healthy Grieving Ritual can be done at any time – soon after a loss; long after a loss; once; multiple times

This Healthy Grieving Ritual involves the lighting of 4 candles, quiet reflection, inspiring quotations to ponder, quiet music in the background.

* As each candle of four candles is lit (hopefully in a darkened or semi-darkened room to get the full effect of light emanating from the candle), it might be helpful to have some quiet music in the bg or be in silence. Turn off the tv/loud music/cell phone and try not to begin this ritual when others might make demands on you. This is your time. As you speak/think each phrase, do it slowly, reflectively.   There is no need to hurry.
* You might choose the same colour for each of the four candles or mix and match your candles because of the symbolism associated with specific colours: blue – the colour of hope; white – the colour of wholeness; red – the colour of love; green – the colour of growth; purple – the colour of spirituality – your/your loved one’s favourite colour.
Directions are below. The words you say can be said aloud or silently in your heart.  To begin … take a few slow, deep breaths inhaling a sense of peace – and exhaling that which brings anxiety.    When your breathing has slowed down …

light the first candle then say … aloud or silently in your heart:

“I light this first candle to remember those persons who have been loved and are no longer are part of my life in any tangible way.  I pause to remember him/her/them.”  (Give yourself time to remember and name him/her/them.)
Then say or think:  “I give thanks for a memory that connects him/her/them to me.” (Give yourself time to do this).
Conclude by saying: “May Eternal Love surround him/her/them.”
 [Silent time for reflection and some gentle, deep breathing]
Light the second candle then say … aloud or silently in your heart
“I light this second candle to redeem the pain of loss.” (Give yourself time to think of whatever and however you are experiencing loss at this time)
Then say or think: “As I gather up the pain of the past, I offer it, asking that the gift of peace, of shalom, of wholeness be placed into my heart and open hands.” (Give yourself time to do this)
Conclude by saying: “May I be refreshed, restored and renewed.” [Silent time for reflection and some gentle, deep breathing.]

Light the third candle and say … aloud or silently in your heart
“I light this third candle to remember myself … I pause and remember the past days, weeks, months (years): the down times, the poignancy of memories, the grief, the sadness, the hurts, the anger, the pain of reflecting on my own mortality.   If there is need for forgiveness – I offer it now, knowing that forgiveness is not forgetting, but it is letting go of whatever binds me to negative thought.  I choose  to forgive the other, forgive myself (forgive God if this is appropriate to your belief).”    (Give yourself time to do th
Conclude by saying: “May I remember that dawn defeats darkness.”
Take some time to reflect (in your Journal, in your thoughts) on the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail” (first attributed to Confucius who wrote  “Our greatest glory is not in never falling down, but in getting up every time we do
… and on the words ascribed to Buddha: “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” 
… and the words of Claude Bristol: “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief.  Once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

[Give yourself a silent time of reflection and some gentle, deep breathing]

Light the fourth candle and say … aloud or silently in your heart:
“I light this fourth candle to remember the gift of hope. I give thanks for that which is good in my life and name those people, situations, abilities, gifts, strengths/etc. for which I am grateful.”    (Give yourself time to do this)
Then say: “May I remember the words of Anne Lamott: ‘Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up”.  Take some time to reflect in your Journal, in your thoughts) on the words of Pierre Teillard de Chardin: “If the only prayer you utter is ‘thank-you’, that would be sufficient” … and on the words written on a wall at Dachau prison — “I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining; I believe in the stars even when I see them not; I believe in God even when I don’t see God” … and the words of Earl Riney put it: “The stars are constantly shining, but often we do not see them until the dark hours.”  (Give yourself time to do this.)
[Give yourself a silent time of reflection and some gentle, deep breathing]

Bring this ritual to a conclusion by saying:  “Amen. So be it. Amen. (“Amen” simply means “So be it.”)
With the saying of “So be it – Amen,” it is time to do something for yourself: a long, leisurely hot bath; a steaming hot cup of tea/hot chocolate; time spent writing in your Journal; a walk in the outdoors; some quiet time in the darkness looking at the lit candles; listening to some gentle music.  Whether you are aware of it or not, there are people who are “with you.”  You are not alon
If prayer is something that brings you comfort, you might want to say the following aloud or in the silence of your heart at times when the darkness that comes with grief – or the darkness associated with the season of the year (Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Solstice) – is difficult to bear:

“God/Creator/Holy One (whichever is most appropriate for you to use), I come to you at this time, with the pain inside me.  As the nights grow longer, so has the darkness wrapped itself around my heart.  In this season of our longest nights, I offer you the pain in my heart, the trauma of loss that I cannot put into words.

Compassionate One, death has changed my experience of this time of the year. Once it was a special day for me, but someone special has died.  This Season seems to bring forth a grieving over what might have been.  I ask you to be with me and help me through the difficult moments as the Christmas Season/ Hanukkah, Winter Solstice reminds me of all that used to be and cannot be anymore.  The memories of what once was, the fears of what may be, disquiet my soul.  All around, I hear the sounds of celebration.  But all I experience is a sense of feeling blue. Please be near me at this time and even if I do not believe / no longer believe /or my belief is fragile, I offer this prayer “Help my unbelief … and bring healing to my soul.”

© June Maffin “Soulistry”


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Maffin has given us a real gift in “Soulistry”.

Unlike far too many books on spiritual matters, “Souistry” offers all comers a cordial and restorative way into the exploration and care of the interior life.  Phyllis Tickle is the founding editor of the Religion Department of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY and was Academic Dean to the Memphis College of Art before entering full time into writing and publishing.

June Maffin delivers what the subtitle of her book promises, “Creative Ways to Nurture Your Spirituality”.

Starting with the invention of a new word “SOULISTRY,” she guides her readers through the creation of a journal and lets them find their own “answers within”. She brings to the writing of this book an impressive educational background (ordained Anglican priest, PhD in pastoral theology among others) and a wide range of experience. However, the impact of an illness she suffered and the process of her healing became the primary impulse for writing this spiritual autobiography. Her approach combines spirituality and creativity.

The structure of the book offers a step-by-step guide to spiritual journaling. It is complex, yet easy to follow. The main and most important step is to move through the Journal Prompts and their Soul-Questions. This step is the crux and the purpose of the book.

The 86 Journal Prompts are inspirational quotations from extraordinary people from different centuries. Among those represented are priests (Herbert O’Driscoll), writers (Mark Twain), poets (Rainer Maria Rilke), philosophers (Lao Tzu), mystics (Julian of Norwich), monks (Thich Nhat Hanh), artists (Michelangelo), as well as proverbs. Some of the quotations and their authors are well known, others less so. All of them prompt a thought provoking response. Each quotation has a title such as Mystery, Faith, Happiness, Peace Within. The following Chinese proverb prompts the feeling of happiness.  “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.”

Each Journal Prompt is accompanied by Soul-Questions. Together they are meant to stimulate the reader’s spiritual response and awareness. The title Happiness, for example, with its Chinese proverb prompt is followed by these Soulistry Soul-Questions:
* Do “being happy” and “being joyfulhave the same meaning for you?
*   If not, what is the difference?
*   What contributes to your happiness?
*   In your Soulistry Journal, reflect on a time in your life when you were happy. What was the occasion/circumstance? How did you feel?
*    How can helping another bring happiness to the helper?
*   What can you do to “help someone else” on a regular basis?
*   Are there individuals, or community/environmental/political/religious organizations you might help? Journal who they might be and how you might be able to offer to help them.

In Dr. Maffin’s own words her book will encourage the readers to connect more intimately with their spirituality and offer new ways to nurture their spirit. In the Epilogue she asks the last question: “ Who are you?” Having journaled through the prompts and questions, the answer(s) may surprise the reader.

The remaining parts of the book provide biographies of the quotation authors, listing of the prompts and soul-question titles, the Soulistry story and Soulistry retreats and workshops.

Dr. Maffin’s book is useful even for those who are not able to journal. It can be used at any time, any place, on any page at any prompt and it will immediately lead the reader to a moment of spiritual calm.

SOULISTRY should be kept as a guide for contemplation. And that is where the value of this slender volume lies.

Hana Komorous, Librarian, Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, BC

A Book You Can Take With You !!, 23 Aug 2011

Soulistry is a simple book yet incredibly complex. It is a small book but hugely big. You can read it in an afternoon yet it can take a lifetime (or lifetimes) to fully absorb.

There is a saying that there is only one thing you can take with you – your evolution – and one thing you can leave behind – your art.   Thanks to June Maffin, the wisdom is this book is something you can take with you and what ‘soul-full’ art she has brought to the planet.

I gasped in delight as I pulled Soulistry from its shipping envelope and saw the delicate image of dandelion seeds drifting on a gentle breeze. I smiled at an image of June Maffin’s thoughts wafting like the seeds of that dandelion, and wondered if they would sprout and multiply like the humble dandelion in souls around the world.

I was not disappointed. The slender volume packs a virtual universe into 144 pages. The seeds are contained within 80 quotations and the probing questions that follow each. These pages contain enough journaling prompts to keep a person writing for years, exploring and expanding with each small thought. The source quotations demonstrate the expansiveness of Maffin’s personal spirituality, including Christian classics such as St. Augustine and Thomas Merton and branching out into the whole world — American Indian, Chinese proverbs, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Anaïs Nin, Desmond Tutu, Dalai Lama, Jesus … Without an overt word, she demonstrates that faith and spirit transcend boundaries of limiting belief structures.

The quotations and question-prompts would be a rich meal unto themselves, but she doesn’t leave it at that. The book begins with a brief Preface explaining how to get the greatest benefit from the book and a short Prologue that gently nudges anxiously questioning minds into soothing channels of encouragement. Any reader will appreciate at least a couple of her six appendices. She gives simple instructions for making your own Soulistry Journal volume and tells the inspiring story of the health affliction that led her to discover the combination of soul and artistry. Two more appendices will appeal to the inner organizer or librarian within many readers. She gives brief background sketches of each quoted person and lists the quotations alphabetically by the titles she assigned.

Even if you never write a word, this uplifting volume will give you plenty to think about, but your life will be much richer if you do record your responses to prompts. Orderly souls may prefer to begin with the first and work their way through in an orderly fashion. Free Spirits may pick and choose, selecting those quotes and prompts that resonate most strongly on any given day. Some may prefer to write simple, spontaneous answers and move on. Others may spend hours over a period of days or weeks drilling deeply into specific questions, fully mining their riches. However you use this book, your life will be richer for letting Maffin’s simple seeds take root in your soul.

Sharon Lippincott
StoryCircle Book Reviewer

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Those familiar with the Artist’s Way or with popular modern therapies, know well the importance of journaling. Morning pages, the stream of consciousness daily deposit advocated by Julia Cameron, reveals to those who write them the mysteries of their moods and an eventual break to inner chatter. Many authors, inspired by Cameron’s effective system for breaking creative blocks, take Cameron’s wisdom and embellish it with their own methods, giving Artist’s Way travelers and their ilk next steps after the prescribed twelve weeks of creative focus pass.

June Mack Maffin’s own spin on creative recovery poses questions to the reader; Socrates himself might crib notes. The book consists of a series of questions to prompt creative journaling and intense introspection. An explorer of the inner planes face puzzles such as “Loving Your Enemy” and “Peace Within” followed by questions that rifle memories for the birthplace of attitudes and open doors to ideas unconsidered.

Soulistry takes the work of Cameron and pushes the borders: many of the questions reveal details about the soul a journaling person might feel unprepared to receive. A person needing inner work can get much out of this book; Maffin’s questions lead to deeper personal questions that delve into hidden aspects of self.

~review by Diana Rajchel
“Facing North: A Community Project”

Author: June Mack Maffin
Circle Books
pp. 132, $13.95

Soulistry: Artistry of the Soul: Creative Ways to Nurture Your Spirituality PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 July 2011 16:44

I have written daily in a spiritual journal for more than thirty years.  It began in response to an invitation - not unlike the one June Maffin extends here – only it was a different time and place for me. Still, her welcome encouragement speaks to me after all these years.

The author offers both excitement and adventure in new spiritual growth that continues to intrigue me. That is the thing about real spirituality – the possibilities for internal renewal continue to be limitless – whether you are a beginner, or a person with considerable experience.
As I engage this book, I see quickly that it is the product of a good deal of faithful living and spiritual investment. From her experience has come a rich harvest of understanding that is readily evident in the material. June has known some difficult challenges in her spiritual journey, but from what I know of her, I have always admired the balance and equanimity with which she faces life’s problems.
A point about the 80 Soulistry Journal Prompts and Soul-Questions that constitute almost 90 pages of the book. She includes the wisdom of a wide-range of spiritual guides – some of whom are Christian and some of whom are not. In this, she shows that the spirit of God is not limited or confined to a particular faith. But at the same time – she reveals through such quotes – the broadness and depth of her own Christian life.
She demonstrates that one can grow in spiritual maturity only if one has a solid grounding upon which to stand. That maturity is not always found today but when she quotes persons I know personally or with whom I have had a long-standing reading acquaintance, I realize that she is not simply ‘spiritual name-dropping’ but has solid reasons for quoting such people. They have become intimate partners in her own spiritual quest. She includes a biographical listing of all her contributors, which I found helpful - especially for the less familiar names.
Don’t read this book because you want to collect a string of quotes or impress people with your literary prowess. Read it because you sense a depth and quality in the person quoted. For example, one of her subjects is also a person to whom I owe a great deal of respect and appreciation. Herb O’Driscoll, a colleague of this list and a retired priest of the Anglican Church of Canada is a wonderfully creative preacher and writer. The author quotes these words from him: “Come and journey, journey upward. Sing God’s praises. Offer prayer. In the storm and in the stillness. Find God’s presence everywhere.”  (pp. 36-7) This is but one example of many I could mention; but why not secure the book and meet other inspiring mentors and guides in the process?
Thanks, June, for creating this very fine spiritual reading-companion.  I will treasure and return to it often; and am sure that many others will do the same.

Looking for a tonic? Try an elixir for the spirit

By: Diana Swift
staff writer

Soulistry. In case you’re wondering, “soulistry” is a neologism coined by the Rev. Dr. June Mack Maffin as shorthand for artistry of the soul. Her new book of the same name, published April 29 and subtitled “Creative Ways to Nurture Your Spirituality,” is a spring tonic that speaks to the very essence of us. It’s trip into the élan vital.

The book guides readers through soul journeying and soul journalling, prompting them to have profound written conversations with themselves and with the mystery that lies at the heart of existence. Keeping a spiritual diary as a tool of self-discovery, soul travellers work their way through a series of  Journal Prompts—inspiring quotations that lead to Soul-Questions. Their responses to those questions are designed to help them know themselves more intimately, to clarify what they really believe about life, relationships and important issues, and to help them grow fully into their humanity.

The almost 80 catalyst quotations harvest the wisdom of sage minds from different walks, faiths and ages—pebbles for the spiritual pocket that can be taken out and appreciated at any time, in any order. Slake your spiritual thirst on topics ranging from faith and hope to goodness, mystery and wisdom with citations from ancient Chinese proverbs, Buddha, Christ, Navajo chants, Khalil Gibran, and Dag Hammarskjöld. Each quotation is followed by thought-provoking questions.  Here are two of many that got my attention.

The whole secret of the spiritual life is just this painful struggle to come awake, to become fully conscious.—Gerald Heard

“What does ‘to come awake, to become fully conscious’ mean for you? Have your life, your spiritual journey as ‘struggle’ as ‘painful’? If so, how?”

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. — Chief Seattle

“Reflect on the ‘web of life’ metaphor. How do you see yourself as ‘but one thread within’ the web of life?”

Maffin, an ebullient Anglican priest and spiritual workshop director based in Duncan, B.C., on Vancouver Island, began working on this soul-soothing book a few years ago when her body was racked with pain from mercury poisoning, her muscles atrophying and her mind foggy, unclear and incapable of concentration. “For a year, even reading was a challenge,” she says.

The Montreal-born Maffin’s career path has been more varied than most. Sent to elocution class to cure a stutter, the young Maffin was discovered by a producer and became a teenage TV personality, which parlayed itself into her appointment as Canadian editor of a U.S. teen magazine. She studied sociology at Concordia University, taught high school in Montreal and was considering law but digressed into seminary and the priesthood. She holds a PhD in pastoral theology and is the author of an earlier book Disturbed by God. Nowadays, Maffin focuses principally on her ministry of Soulistry, acting as a workshop and retreat leader to help people make the connection between creativity and spirituality, thereby nurturing their souls.

Asked how spirituality differs from emotionality and intellectuality, Maffin replies, “Spirituality gets at the very essence of who and what you really are and what you believe about the important things in life.”

Soulistry Circle Books, 2011, $13.95. Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository and local bookstores.

Many of us yearn for spiritual connection or, once connected, spiritual growth, but don’t know how to begin on that path.  Some of us don’t know how to look at our lives, without automatically seeing only the negative — the imperfections and what hasn’t been accomplished. Others of us have done some spiritual work and then stopped — uncertain how to continue.

Many of us strive for greater understanding of how the spirit operates in our lives and how to nurture that spirit. Or, we feel stuck and yearn to become unstuck and to develop a practice to follow. For seekers such as these, The Rev. Dr. June Maffin’s Soulistry — Artistry of the Soul, will be a great gift.

The practice Maffin outlines begins with buying or creating a Soulistry Journal (instructions provided), and writing in it.

Journal entries are personal, not necessarily to be shared. The practice includes considering quotations from individuals whose wisdom Maffin has found useful (called Journal Prompts) and Soul-Questions which, together with the Prompts, can spark a thought, a memory, a question, together challenging the seeker to connect more intimately with one’s spirituality. The act of responding to the Prompts and Soul-Questions is itself a spiritual task, for Maffin states that order is not important. Find a Soul-Question that “speaks” to you, she says. Journaling these responses may be a new experience or something you’ve done before, perhaps under other circumstances or with other intentions. “Soulistry” is a coined word combining two words — soul and artistry — and was created by Maffin together with her son, hence the references to Soulistry Journal, Soul Space, and Soul-Questions. Some will find these words helpful, others, incidental. What all will find nurtures the spirit is the prompting of the quotations, and — especially for those who were feeling stuck, the list of Prompts/Questions already prepared for consideration.

The care with which Maffin has developed the series of activities is made evident by the instructions for making a Soulistry Journal: she describes what’s required, what’s optional, where to cut, fold or sew, and how to complete the Journal. Even those who consider ourselves inept will discover how easily we can accomplish this task. Since journal writing is meant to be a personal conversation with oneself and God, writing responses to the Journal Prompts and Soul-Questions help clarify what you believe. Even here, Maffin offers options to consider. It’s not obligatory that journal writing be solely personal; some might find it helpful to seek guidance from a counselor or spiritual director, she writes. The sources of the quotations — what Maffin refers to as Journal Prompts — are wide-ranging, some from the Christian tradition, others not; some names known to all, others, less familiar. These include spiritual leaders such as Thich Nhat Hanh, philosophers Martin Buber and Gerald Heard, Chief Seattle, poets Anne Sexton, Robert Frost and Langston Hughes, thinker/educator Confucius, Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, Gandhi, Gordon Light, Thomas Merton and Herbert O’Driscoll. And Jesus. And many others.

My efforts with the practice Maffin has outlined taught me that the Prompts do indeed prompt reflection. And the Soul-Questions do cause one to dig deeper.

A final gift to the reader is Maffin’s description of how this book came to be.   Illness, healing, ‘stepping out in faith’: lived experience.

Book Review by Brenda Berck
St. Mary’s Kerrisdale
Published in TOPIC, Diocese of New Westminster newspaper (click on left side of screen for PDF link to the Summer 2011 issue of TOPIC where the above book review can be found.

Dr. June Maffin has marked the trail for all of us seeking a deeper, creative and more meaningful life. Amazon has released, artid member June Maffin’s guide to the within. Entitled Soulistry, Artistry of the Soul. June has thoughtfully structured the book in such a way that the outcome of each person’s journey will be different depending on one’s answers. The questions are both road map and compass to an often overlooked destination — the elusive “within.”

“Making changes in your life is difficult and requires work, so much so that many people are not willing to make the effort.”

Like so many explorers who kept a diary of their adventures, this guide to journal- keeping gently asks the questions that only the traveler can answer. A thoughtful read and a gentle gift for someone you love who is struggling with life’s questions.

Mary Lawler 
Marketing Director for ArtId (

This is a book about questions; the little ponderings and the big life-changers. It’s also about breaking the questions down into manageable bits that can lead to illumination through “prompts”, explains author June Mack Maffin in “Soulistry – Artistry of the Soul”.

Many people go through life wondering, even worrying, about those BIG questions. “How do I deepen awareness? What is my purpose? Why am I here?” For most, these thoughts pass quickly, perhaps uncomfortably, as we get back to our day-to-day rote living. It’s too hard, inconvenient, or scary to change.

In many religious circles, you’re downright discouraged to question the mores set by the institution. Just follow the scriptures and their rules, give complete faith, and everything will be fine. Anything else may be seen as outright disrespect.

Maffin discounts all of that, saying it’s healthy to wonder, to challenge. Instead, use those as guides but find your own path too. A deeper, fuller belief of your morals and ethics, needs and desires will result.

Each chapter focuses on a theme such as mystery, faith or play, and begins with a quote from a historical or contemporary thinker e.g. “Questions That Speak” begins with an old Chinese proverb: “Those who ask questions may be a fool for five minutes, but those who do not are fools for life.” Maffin follows with her own queries for readers to ponder. “It’s been said that questions have more importance than answers. What questions have been more important to you than the answers?” Then go one level deeper: “Why?”

From there, the reader’s “work” begins: the answering. Maffin stresses to take this at your own pace as you sift through the mental and emotional layers. Going too fast keeps you on the surface. As St. Francis said: “May you be blessed with discomfort at easy answers … so that you may live deep in your heart …”

The vehicle to record the results of the searches, and begin the artistry side of the book’s title, begins with the journal itself. You can use a computer or scrap paper, but there is something about the act of writing in a specially chosen book that adds to the expereience.

Maffin offers different options for what to use as a journal, even including instructions to make your own. The over all design may show beauty, whimsey, or cogitation, or just a plain, anonymous look. Then there are practical considerations: its size and length, paper quality (lined? unlined?), and binding options. (ring-bound, soft or hard cover, stapled or stitched). Lastly, choose a pen or pencil that writes easily, comfortably; that brings your creativity alive.

It was actually through a chance encounter with a mirror that a creative spark was lit for Maffin and set her on the journey to write this book. She has a wide and varied professional background, receiving her Master of Divinity in 1985 when she was ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada then her Doctorate in Pastoral Care with an emphasis on Ethics in 1992. She has extensive experience in education, communications, media relations, and business and is a Certified Group Facilitator and Conference Speaker (in the areas of spirituality, circular leadership, total ministry and women’s leadership). Maffin’s focus in all these is to encourage people in their spirituality regardless of formalized religious involvement.

In 2004, Maffin became ill, in a lot of pain, and her work load was drastically limited. Sorting through some belongings one day, she came across a small, hand mirror and the idea to paint something bright on it hit her. As she did, she found her discomfort diminishing from the distraction and a surprise energy that urged her on. Her pain receded as her desire to make art increased. Friends started asking for instruction which led her to holding workshops, locally at first and now across North America.

It made sense for Maffin to combine her two passions in this project — spirituality and creativity. At 141 pages, this is a short book but jam-packed with insight. It is interactive yet personal. Revelationary. Even life-changing for some.

My only criticism is that more visual hands-on art and craft projects weren’t included that help begin or go deeper into the process. (A sequel?) Some jumping points for the reader to explore this on their own are hinted at, like adding images — your own or others’ inspirational works — on your journal pages.

In the end Maffin hopes the process and resulting journal brings readers some awareness, comfort and peace of mind into the often chaotic, confusing world we inhabit.

Who could ask for more?

Soulistry is right on target, suggesting that creative playfulness is a very important part of a lively spirituality. The Gospel of Matthew tells of Jesus saying that we need to become as little children in order to see the Kingdom of Heaven. Childlike creativity and playfulness improve our spiritual vision. We are encouraged to forget about expectations, our own and those of others, and to mount up as on eagles’ wings. Rise and fly. And then we will come to know that the Kingdom of Heaven is before us, around us, among us and within us.

In Soulistry, author June Maffin invites us to live in the context of playfulness, to breathe deeply of inspiration, to reach out and hold hands with imagination and creativity. Come on in; the Water’s fine! Get your “feet wet” in a Journal Prompt (a meaningful quotation), and play in the powerful tides and gentle waves of the Soulistry Soul-Questions. Take your time. Seek the thoughts and questions that stir your spirit, and journal a bit. Let your soul hop and skip and leap for joy! We are as little children playing — sometimes alone, sometimes with others, and always in the participating presence of God.

Let us play! May we say that as often and as earnestly as we say, “Let us pray!”

Michael Anne Haywood is a retired teacher of exceptional children. She lives in Winston-Salem, NC.

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