Sarah Tonks suggests books to read in Lent

“Lent for me is this simple, it is a season for us to draw closer to God. The important questions are, “Who is God?”, and then “Why and how do we pray?”. If we need more time for God, we can stop doing something, but “What should I give up for Lent?” is very much a secondary question. Lent is primarily for us to be with God a bit more than usual” (from the Introduction to “Eavesdropping”, by Henry Martin)

In St Michael’s Book Group, we usually select a Lent Book to read. These are books intended to assist our reflection during the season of Lent, often structured as daily or weekly readings and reflections, and are one way of drawing closer to God.

This Lent, St Michael’s is offering a number of small Lent groups which offer weekly meetings (at various times to suit you) to explore a Lent course based on “The Joy of the Gospel” by Paula Gooder. We hope you will find one of those groups that you can join.

As Lent is intended as a time of simplifying life, we therefore decided not to add to your “to do” list by having a prescribed Lent book for the Book Group.

If, however, you would like to follow a Lent book for your personal journey through Lent, here are some suggestions you may want to consider. The first two are variations on the usual format of the Lent book, which have been read and enjoyed by the Book Group in the past: the other two are books that have been published this year.

“The Heart's Time - A Poem a Day for Lent and Easter” by Janet Morley

A day by day Lent book, in which a poem appropriate to the themes of the season is read, along with a short reflection from the editor and a couple of questions to ponder. The purpose is to use a poetic text as the basis for 'slow reflection' during Lent and Eastertide.

“The Art of Lent: A Painting A Day From Ash Wednesday To Easter” by Sister Wendy Beckett

For those who prefer their reflection to be visual, this is an inspiring collection of over 40 famous and lesser-known masterpieces of Western art, organised by weekly themes, accompanied by a reflection by Sister Wendy Beckett.

“Eavesdropping: Learning to pray from those who talked to Jesus” by Henry Martin

In this book of daily readings we eavesdrop or `listen in', on 49 instances of people who actually spoke to Jesus in the Bible, and ask what we can learn from what they said and how he responded. Each reflection ends with the question “How does this help with prayer”? (This is my choice of Lent book for this year!)

“The Resilient Disciple: A Lenten Journey from Adversity to Maturity” by the Venerable Dr Justine Allain Chapman

The Japanese art of kintsugi ('repairing with gold') not only restores cracked objects but makes them even more beautiful than before. Alone on an 8-day retreat in the Egyptian desert, Justine Allain Chapman experienced first-hand the physical, spiritual and mental struggle many have endured before her. Our own desert experience may involve attending to challenges that come upon us suddenly - such as an illness or bereavement - or to difficult relationships or patterns of thinking that have long been draining us of life and joy. Her book asks: is it possible to respond to the adversities of life by becoming stronger, wiser and more loving?