By Brother David Steindl-Rast OSB. Published by Paulist Press, 2017. Reviewed by Lyndall Brown
The title of this book expresses the essence of David Steindl-Rast’s life as revealed through every page of the book. His life is steeped in his thirst to encounter the Mystery of God in every experience of life. The book reveals a man who knows the depth of the words: “In him I live and move and have my being” (Acts 17–28).
The book tells the story of David’s life through nine themes beginning with “Becoming Human” and ending with “Double Realm”. After David has explored each theme it is enlarged upon through an interview with Johannes Kaup. Each theme is explored through personal stories which continue to give glimpses of his humanity, his depth of spirituality and his vision for life. He often quotes from his favourite poets especially Rainer Maria Rilke and these quotes heighten the readers’ awareness of David’s capacity to live contemplatively.
As I delved into the book it became obvious that David’s spirituality is one that reflects the gift of living in the now and that joy and gratitude flow from the discovery of the Mystery of God in and through every event. I felt challenged as I read of his attitude towards those who caused him and his people suffering during World War II. His openness to interfaith dialogue is written with appreciation for his own faith and the realisation that those of other faiths, too, are all in search of Mystery. While David’s life is deeply contemplative the book reveals the fullness of his active life. We read of how he set up the Centre for Spiritual Studies in 1968 together with Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. He realised his own vulnerability was heightened during his time as a hermit when he was confronted with his own self as well as the “tears of the world”.
Anyone searching to lead a contemplative life will find this book both inspiring and challenging. David Steindl-Rast shows us how to live contemplatively while being immersed in the issues and realities of life.
Tui Motu Magazine. Issue 228, July 2018: 31.