Looking for a tonic? Try an elixir for the spirit
By: Diana Swift
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.