Smith: Honoring the Sacred Earth Review

Smith: Honoring the Sacred Earth Review

The bottom line (because why should you have to wait!): B
If you are looking to deepen your spiritual practice and connect more fully with the Earth and yourself, this is a valuable resource.

Favourite Quote: "In order to find our way to the enlightenment and spiritual fulfillment we seek, we need to live our path every day. We need to take the time to pray, to interact with nature and follow its cycles, and we need to learn to quiet ourselves and listen to the lessons revealed to us by the divine creator on a daily basis" (p9).

Goal Achievement: A
Smith's goal was "to present an introduction to a path leading to spiritual awakening and enlightenment allowing the reader to fully experience the beginning of the process of awakening" (p181-2).

Clarity, Lyricism and Flow: Does the editing make sense? Does it have proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar? Is it beautifully written? Does it make my heart sing and sweep me away? D
umm… no. I felt as if I were reading a textbook, not a book of praise for the Earth and the Divine within and outside of ourselves. I actually contacted Rev. Smith and asked him if I was reading a draft. He assured me that it had been proofread by not one, but two professors, and all I could do at that point was express my condolences. The book has many errors throughout: repeated words and phrases, words out of place, a quote by Winston Churchill that is used twice in sequence. These are all easily fixed errors and a good editor would never have let them pass.

Genre-busting and Paradigm Challenging: How does it rise above other books in the field? Is it world-shifting? For me? C+
I'd have to put this book into a Christian genre of eco-spirituality. It does an excellent job of moving the Christian believer (though it would also work for non-Christians) towards a more inclusive, holistic belief system. Rev. Smith displays reverence both for the Divine Creator and for Nature, as a creation of the Creator and a creator itself. His inclusion of meditations, exercises and prayers in every section provides an excellent toolbox for the aspirant looking to deepen their connection to Spirit, to themselves, and to Nature.

What I Loved and What I Would Have Loved:
I confess, I really, really wanted to love this book. A lot. I connected with David on Twitter and offered to review the book as it sounded right up my alley. After all, my mission is Sacred Physicality and honoring the Divine in ourselves and in the Earth. So I thought it was a natural fit. Not to mention that I had created an image of David's work based on his work with the UUs (Unitarian Universalists) and as a Druid.

So I was taken aback when the book began with two quotes from the Bible and a discussion of how the Earth is sacred because it was created by God. Now, normally, if someone says that the Earth is created by God, I can abstract that to my own cosmogenesis fairly easily since I believe that God is the Creative Force. But when that statement is accompanied by Bible quotes I start to worry. To me, the Earth is God, just as you are, just as I am. We are all God. God is not a figure outside of us that we need to revere. We are to be revered. All of existence is to be revered.

I would have loved better editing. I know some great editors. They obviously did not work on this book. It made me sad. In addition, I wish that Smith considered the work important enough to expect a proper journal. Instead, in each of the meditations and exercises he allowed that the seeker might wish to write down their thoughts on 'scraps of paper'. Argh! Over and over again. Really? This work demands respect. Go get a journal.

As a lover of memoir, I wanted to hear more of David in this book. It felt much more like I was reading a textbook than a love story of humanity and the earth. There were moments, notably when Smith was discussing the various ways art can connect us to Nature and whenever he mentioned his love for his son that his warm and passionate personality came through. Which only made the general 'coolness' of his tone harder to bear. It felt as though he were hovering on the other side of the page, tantalizingly close but unreachable.

What I loved was the variety. For each approach to communion with Nature he offered a brief prayer, meditation, and/or an exercise. Not only were there three techniques but the variety of approaches was inspiring. Whether you feel more comfortable celebrating or observing the seasons, sitting in Nature or working in your garden, or learning and developing a new artistic skill, this book had so much variety it would be very easy to find something that worked for you and begin to develop it as part of a deeper and more complete spiritual practice.

Who's It For: Seekers desiring guidance on new ways to connect to and celebrate themselves and the planet.

The Details:
Title: "Honoring the Sacred Earth: A Path to Spiritual Awakening"
Author: Rev. David P. Smith
Publisher: Dreamz-Work Productions, LLC, Rockville, MD
ISBN: 978-0-9825531-9-0

Part I: Returning to Nature (Introduction)
Part II: Honoring and Living the Seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter)
Part III: Caring for Our Planet and Ourselves (Replenish, Giving Back, Love, Forgiveness)
Part IV: The Traditional Elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit)
Part V: Seeking Your Path (Teachers, Truth, Experience, Faith)
Part VI: Awakening (Eyes, Mind, Heart, Spirit)
Part VII: Putting It All Together

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