Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Writer Who Sees the Forest and the Trees

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Writer Who Sees the Forest and the Trees

Article excerpt

The Force of Spirit

By Scott Russell Sanders Beacon

175 pp., $22

Amid the shopping and the cooking and the traveling and the greeting, make some quiet time this month for a little collection of essays called "The Force of Spirit."

Scott Russell Sanders is one of those craftsmen who composes pieces I can't believe anyone makes anymore - like cedar chests or potato mashers. And yet his essays are such a pleasure that I wonder why we usually put up with the literary equivalent of moth balls and potato buds.

"I have reached the time in life when I can no longer put off asking the ultimate questions," Sanders writes. That may sound like a warning that you've reached the time in life when you should put off reading a pompous book, but these 14 essays are models of humility.

Whether considering organic farming, the importance of storytelling, or his first Bible, Sanders, a professor at Indiana University, speaks with gentle, but penetrating insight that encourages contemplation. He looks so wisely at the grain of his life that we can't help consider the timber of our own.

In the title essay, he and his wife visit her father at a nursing home. The prognosis is bleak. His body and mind are failing. But even shrouded in anticipatory grief, Sanders is thinking about the force of life.

"Who can accept that we're merely meat?" he asks. "Who can shake the suspicion that we're more than two-legged heaps of dust accidentally sprung into motion? Whatever the doctors and biologists claim, we go on using the word heart as if it pointed to an emotional center, a core of integrity."

"I want a name for the force that binds me to [my wife] Ruth, to her parents, to my parents, to our children, to neighbors and friends, to the land and all its creatures.... No name is large enough to hold this power, but of all the inadequate names, the one that comes to me now is spirit. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.