Stephanie Dowrick & My Growth


Photo credit: Jeannine St. Amand via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

 

24.09.2015- 570 words

 

Stephanie Dowrick’s work has been hugely influential in my life. I’ll introduce her work by connecting it to the story of my life in the last seven years. Her work has become a part of my life, and so I want to take you through it in the way that I have been changed by it.

 

I first came across her when I had been in twelve-step recovery for two years. The Twelve Steps teach a gentle, loving way to transform oneself, rather than the rational, linear solution many self-help books promise. I saw Stephanie’s ‘Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love’ in the library I work in www.bris.ac.uk/library/. I had never read a book quite like it. She writes of the seven humane virtues in such honest and practical ways I could relate to. I was hooked!

 

I bought ‘Choosing Happiness’ next. This has become over time my favourite book. It is one I refer to as my bible, and I return to it almost daily. It is 700 pages of the most practical tips on how to be happy in all senses of that word. There is also an audio version of the book, which has become the background soundtrack to my life, as I have it on when time permits, certainly on a daily basis.

 

Linked to this, Stephanie has written numerous books on the application of spirituality to psychology, covering the minute, daily choices we make. ‘Everyday Kindness’ is a fantastic, very readable example of this, which covers parenting, work choices and many more topics. ‘The Universal Heart’ is an even longer exploration of spiritual psychology, covering many common issues such as anger, assertiveness, etc.

 

There are also a couple of beautifully-produced short books of quotes. ‘The Almost Perfect Marriage’ has very practical tips on relationships.’Daily Acts of Love’ is a wonderful collection of Stephanie’s insights on daily living.

 

Stephanie is a trained Interfaith Minister, and has a deep understanding of the world’s spiritual paths. ‘Seeking the Sacred’ is an incredible overview of spirituality, drawing on all the world’s religions. ‘Heaven on Earth’ is a wonderful compendium of the world’s most inspiring prayers from all religious traditions, and prayers Stephanie has written herself. ‘Heavenly’ is a CD of music co-created with Kim Cunio. He also contributes to the Interfaith Services she holds at a church monthly in Sydney, Australia.

Stephanie also has articles on her website http://www.stephaniedowrick.com/ and runs a ‘Universal Heart’ Book Club on Youtube https://goo.gl/qHOMiy. Finally (!), Stephanie studied a PhD in the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, and produced the highly-readable book ‘In the Company of Rilke’.

 

Stephanie has inspired me to live out my faith, and look at my own behaviour rather than judging others. I am sure I’ll keep learning from her for the rest of my life. I love producing cards with quotes on, and I have made many of her quotes from Choosing Happiness into mantra cards that I use daily. I’d love to see Stephanie talk again in the UK (she was a main speaker at the 2007 Sea of Faith Conference).

Julian Wood

 

Bibliography

’Daily Acts of Love’

‘Heaven on Earth’

‘Heavenly’

‘In the Company of Rilke’

‘Seeking the Sacred’

‘The Almost Perfect Marriage’

The 95% we all share

What unites us is central

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One of the gifts of a spiritually-led life is that we can reflect on what unites us as well as what divides us from other people.

I struggle with attending church- but then often think, ‘Hang on- I agree with all of Christianity apart from the church dogma’.

This is a creed I can sign up to- and I think almost all Christians, non-Christians and people of other faiths can sign up to as well. Can you?

Ø I believe in the centrality of love in life- that we are here to love and care for each other.

Ø I believe in the great value of life in all its manifestations- in the value of each human life, in the lives of animals and of all nature

Ø I believe there is a dimension beyond the eyeryday- I call this the transcendent. Christians call it a variety of things, including the Holy Spirit, God and Jesus. It is summed up in Pierre de Chardin’s famous quote “We are spiritual beings living a physical life”

Ø I believe in the importance of faith- as do we all. We need faith to walk out of our front doors and trust that the ground will not collapse under us, to quote Desmond Tutu.

Ø I believe in the moral aspect of life, as did Martin Luther King. That breaking a moral law, such as murder or hating someone, has a moral consequence, and that these laws are just as important as physical laws.

Ø I believe in the value of trust between people for healthy relationships, and trust in ourselves.

Ø I believe that I do not have the whole truth, and that I need to live in community to understand myself and others fully- that there is a wisdom beyond my own wisdom and that of other individuals

As I see it, these beliefs are far more important than church dogma- I see them as the 95% on which all humanity virtually can agree on- and the 5% of other beliefs (concerning whose God is ‘right’ etc.) as relatively unimportant.

And this gives me great hope. If we all share this 95%, we all share religion.