My Ten Best Books of 2013 (#3)

Today's post is the third in a series in which I ask pastor friends to list the "Ten Best" books they read in 2013 (to date, of course). Feel free to comment about any choices you agree with...or not.

Kasey Warren Hitt, M.Div., CSD, is a spiritual director living in Nashville, Tennessee. She offers individual and group direction, leads silent retreats, and teaches seminars on topics such as prayer, discernment, and Sabbath. To find out more, visit her website. Here are her "best" books of 2013:
What does my soul need? This was the guiding question in my choice of books, plunging me into art, poetry, dreams, even juggling (which became one of my spiritual practices this year!). Here are some of those memorable books in the order I read them:

Leap by Terry Tempest Williams
The House of Belonging by David Whyte
Unopened Letters from God: Using Biblical Dreams to Unlock Nightly Dreams by Rev. Robert L. Hayden, Jr.
The Soul's Religion: Cultivating a Profoundly Spiritual Way of Life by Thomas Moore
The Great Themes of Scripture: Old Testament and New Testament by Richard Rohr
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi

Although I've loved the above books, time after time I've returned to and drank deeply from these four:

Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky
Poetry from mystics and saints such as Rumi, St. Thomas Aquinas, Rabia, St. Teresa of Avila, Hafiz, Meister Eckhart and others have offered me a well-spring of deep, playful wisdom. I have found myself laughing and crying within seconds of each other, speechless in holy awe of the living water found in their ordinary words.

Water, Wind, Earth & Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements
Christine Valters Paintner
Observing and prayerfully interacting with the elements and rhythms of Creation has opened up a deeper wisdom which was well-known by ancient Christians. While most of us are now blind to the spiritual significance of things like wind or rain, this book invites us to go beyond weather. I am spending a lot of time meditating on water and wind, especially the gift of breathing deeply, which has become for me a prayer of trust.

Wonder, Fear and Longing: A Book of Prayers
Mark Yaconelli
Going deeper into one's own soul can be an intimidating experience which is why it is so easy to stay on the surface, going from book to book gathering good information about God, riding the wave of feelings or circumstances, and avoiding silence. Yaconelli is a wise and gentle guide offering simple practices and words (his own and the historical faith community's), that give courage to explore the dark, deep places of our own hearts and discover the love of God.

Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness
Nan C. Merrill
If the Psalms were written without a patriarchal or superstition-based lens or needing to focus sin and blame on external enemies, what kind of words would be given to the same age-old desires and emotions? This fresh reading of the Psalms continues to invite me into a deeper transparency and intimacy with God and an ever-growing kindness toward myself and others.

If you couldn't tell, my soul has been thirsty for depth! These books have offered me ways of doing just that—beckoning me to set them and all other books down, to look around and within, to spend time with and experience the created world, myself and God right where I am in the ordinary routine and stuff of life. Another way to say it is, these books have and continue to draw me deeper into prayer.

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