[Voices & Echoes: Canadian Women's Spirituality]

Article excerpt

Voices and Echoes: Canadian Women's Spirituality, an anthology compiled by Jo-Anne Elder and Colin O'Connell, explores spirituality from a feminist perspective -- a perspective that has, according to the editors, long been ignored by traditional religions and scholarship.

As the title illustrates, this anthology is divided into two sections, voices and echoes. The voices in this powerful collection are the short works of fiction and poetry of both well known and newer writers from across Canada. The echoes referred to are the recurrence of similar themes throughout the collection, as well as the reactions or commentaries of selected scholars and artists to specific works contained within it.

While some of the contributors relate spirituality to structured religion, overall the book reflects a view that spirituality is not bound to prescribed rules and regiments. As the collection illuminates, spirituality is the search for meaning in life. Spirituality is a way of life, rather than a routine of life. In fact, many of these poems and stories offer no mention of either God or church, synagogue or mosque. God is often replaced by Mother Earth, by self-hood, and by relationships with others.

Spirituality may be oneness with the earth, with other women, an honouring of life cycle events, or as William Sweet, commenting on the short story 'Second Solitude' by Lorraine Coyle explains, it may be that which "emphasizes the insights of women and is independent of all particular religious traditions." In Voices and Echoes, spirituality appears in the guise of fantasy, self-empowerment, escape, healing and the search for meaning in life.

In Marguerite Andersen's story, 'Gifts,' an enchanting tale of a mother's gift of a diaphragm to her daughter, spirituality takes the shape of a mother's love. …