WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Book review: Stepping into Mystery

Stepping into Mystery: Four Approaches to a Spiritual LifeBook Review

Cecily McNeill

Stepping into Mystery: Four Approaches to a Spiritual Life by Monty Williams SJ

This marvellous book explores mystery and wonder in the open myths that lead the reader to God as against closed myths that demand clarity.

Using the Ignatian spiritual exercises, Canadian Jesuit Monty Williams taps into a range of cultural devices to illuminate them.

When we walk into our dark places we expect, because of our limited imaginations, to be rescued – resuscitated – in some way. But what happens is that we die. The old narratives by which we lived our lives and which gave meaning to them are taken away. What we are given instead is resurrection.

We may bear the scars of dying, as Christ himself bears the signs of the crucifixion in his risen body, but we live a transformed life because of our covenant moments, as the Christ himself did in that covenant moment when he was raised from the dead. He was freed to live a resurrected future’ (294). Williams’ story of the three doors has captured the imagination of countless retreatants.

Behind the first door is all we ever wanted, behind the second, is what stops us from getting what we want and behind the third, a helper. In prayer we wait for the doors to open and reveal our inner selves.

Williams tells of a reluctant retreatant to whom he gave this as an imaginative prayer exercise. After several days the man returned to the retreat leader saying that in a dream the third door had opened to reveal a heap of broken mirrors. He knew this was significant but what did it mean?

For the first time in his adult life he was presented with a solution to his social remoteness and his inability to get along with others. His self-preoccupation was a form of narcissism. Only by breaking that intense gaze on himself and his needs could he be ready to see what was behind that first door (287).

I found this book hard to put down and to finish. Everytime I reached the end, I wanted to go back to the beginning. A wonderful guide on the spiritual journey.

Stepping into Mystery is published by Novalis is available from Epworth Books.