In our library: “Sleeping with Bread”
We’re excited to launch a new, occasional feature on our blog: reviews of books in the New Covenant Fellowship library. Today, our “resident librarian,” Carolyn Vance, reviews the book “Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives you Life” by Dennis Linn, Sheila Farbricant Linn and Matthew Linn. (Paulist Press, 1995)
It looks like a children’s book. But it’s not. It has an odd title, “Sleeping with Bread.” What? The subtitle “Holding What Gives You Life” is more to the point but still rather vague.
“Sleeping with Bread” is a book about a simple spiritual practice, formally known as “the examen” (I can never remember that formal name) that can be life-giving by bringing us to a place in our hearts and minds of intentional remembering and acknowledgment of both the good and not-so-good things in our lives, on a daily, weekly, monthly or occasional basis, however often we choose to use the practice.
In short it is a book about practicing thankfulness while at the same time acknowledging the things that are hard, frustrating, painful or disappointing in our lives. In a comfortable, conversational style, the authors share how this practice has helped each of them in their brokenness and how God has met them in various ways in the midst of their acknowledged thankfulness and disappointments. They share how, in using this practice, they have been better able to listen to God and pay attention to his leading.
The examen can be practiced alone or with others. It can be a lovely practice for a family to do together. With wisdom and honesty, they share many examples from their own lives and the lives of others of how practicing the examen in a variety of contexts and situations has been and can be life-giving.
This practice is not new. It dates back to the time of Ignatius. But the authors, leaders of retreats and spiritual direction, bring a freshness and practicality to the practice, bringing new insights from the field of psychology on how the practice can enrich our lives and bring us closer to being the people God created us to be.