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Reviewed by Patricia Reding for Readers' Favorite
Sprouting Spiritual Growth: A Memoir and Guide to Spiritual Journaling by Marie Higgins would be “timely” for a reader regardless of where s/he is on life’s journey. Higgins tells of her period of feeling separated from God, and of feeling a growing separation from those around her. Many could identify. The difference for Higgins is that she took a giant leap of faith—one that resulted in some financial and personal difficulties for her and family—and left the corporate world for a different life. As she struggled with new challenges and even with injuries along the way, her new path was hardly an “easier” one—at least at the outset. But her spiritual journaling along the way provided her with the fodder she needed to manage new crises as they arose. Consequently, Higgins found and maintained a grateful heart, and her faith and overall life satisfaction grew.
Everyone faces trying times. With discontent in one area of life can come confusion and chaos in others. So Higgins illustrates in Sprouting Spiritual Growth. Moreover, it is hard to set aside a hardened heart. It is difficult to choose another path, one that might lead to the way out of the desert, when one is disappointed, hurt, or angry (or all of the above!). It can seem almost impossible, as one holds tightly to past hurts, thinking they are cushioning themselves from even more disappointment and pain as they separate from those around them. But eventually that way, too, becomes unmanageable. Higgins proposes a way out that anyone can take: to journal about anything and everything, asking God along the way: “What do you want me to know about this?”
If one can take the step required to be open to hearing the answers, Sprouting Spiritual Growth illustrates one way for discovering how and where and when those answers may be found. The process could be as simple as starting a program for walking meditation; taking note of events that stand out because they are repetitive; or even concentrating on words that stand out—or “shimmer”—for the reader (which really just means that the word conveys an idea the reader might further consider or explore, as God may have a message about it). Often books that are intended to help readers to bring change to their lives only exasperate those readers more, as they leave them feeling inadequate, or as though the “answers” are only there for others. Fortunately, Marie Higgins did not fall into this trap. She meets her reader right where her reader is. And, after all, isn’t that what we know (at least intellectually, even when we feel our heart is hardened) about God? In this way, I believe Sprouting Spiritual Growth will prove to be a helpful—nonjudgmental and motivational—guide for many.