I was sad when I finished this book. Comprising fifty-two short chapters, each one looking at a spiritual practice, it makes sense to read this over a year, taking a week to embed each practice into your life, but I decided to do a chapter a day and still gained immensely from doing it this way, taking time each morning over the summer to sit in silence and reflect.
Each chapter begins with one of Adams’ own poems. These were one of the highlights of the book for me. Beautifully written and strikingly insightful, one or two of them managed to reduce me to tears. After the poem comes a short Bible verse and then Adams’ main reflections on the particular practice of that chapter. Again these are sensitively and perceptively written and made me think, ‘gosh, he seems to know something about life!’. I really appreciated his avoidance of platitudes, which can irritatingly plague some Christian devotional writing. Each chapter concludes with suggestions for how to outwork that chapter’s practice in your own life.
I loved the holistic approach that Adams takes. He has a physical and earthy understanding of spirituality that relates it to every aspect of our lives, recommending practices that include the mundane tasks of life (think Brother Lawrence’s, ‘Lord of the pots and pans’…) and our relationship with the world around us, as well as the more obvious practices to do with silence and contemplation.
I was also relieved that the focus of the book is on self-transformation with a view to bringing goodness to the world and society around us. Sometimes books of this type can become self-centred and narcissistic but Adams avoids this, including practices that are justice-focussed, although I think I would have liked to have seen more that encouraged us to get involved in global issues in different ways. Alongside a good emphasis on how we relate to other people, I would also have loved to have seen some practices related to engaging in a church community specifically, whatever that community might look like to different people.
These quibbles aside, though, this was an excellent book with lots of wisdom in it to help us negotiate well the twists and turns that life throws at us.
(Running Over Rocks is published by Canterbury Press. This review is a longer version of one originally written for Christianity Magazine)