So ‘Rooted in Love’ is finally ‘out there’ in print. We had a wonderful celebration last night for the launch. For me it was a real gift to have people from all the different spheres of my life represented.
The kindle version is available for purchase from anywhere in the world (click on this link Rooted in Love), and in South Africa the print version is also available
Sarah Rowland Jones gave a wonderful talk – I’m going to cheat today and use some of Sarah’s words from last night.
“Between Introduction and Epilogue, we have 13 chapters, written with great carefulness and clarity, their explanations illustrated with specific, often personal, examples. And we know that Mags is a skilled teacher, because strewn throughout the book you will find little blocks of exercises to follow. Mags knows we learn best if we put our reading into practice – though I have to admit that I haven’t done all my homework, so I’m planning to go back and read it all slowly, and digest it properly, and perhaps even use it in parish ministry when I move to Wales later in the year. But I can say I followed Mags’ other instruction, which was to write down all the insights that the book prompted – indeed, the margins are full of emphases and big ticks!
But though in one sense all this makes Rooted in Love an easy book to read, in fact, if you read it properly, you will find it full of daunting challenges. This is not a book for those who want the life of faith to be simple and straightforward, a matter of clear rights and wrongs, with one-size-fits-all rules to follow. No. This is a book for those who have grasped, or are wanting to dare to grasp, that life should be lived as an exciting an adventure, into which we are invited by the God who creates each of us a unique and beloved individual with our own specific vocations to explore, uncover, and pursue – so that we might become more fully our flourishing, unique, true selves.
In pursuing this journey, with the God of unfathomable love inviting us to fathom as deeply as we dare, Mags takes us through a number of themes. First, we start by taking stock of where we are – because it is in our here and now that God addresses us. Then we explore who this God is, and how it is that we can indeed expect to find him ‘in all things’. She reflects on what it is to dare to live with desire – responding to how God plants and nurtures within us yearnings that will help draw us into greater experiencing of what it means to become our true selves. She writes of what it means to seek to live by grace, and ask for specific graces in specific circumstances. She considers discernment, decision-making, finding our longer term purpose in life (even if it is for a season, and then can change, as Mags herself has found), and the goal of holy indifference – where we acknowledge our motivations and our left-to-ourselves choices, but even so can still say to God ‘even more, I desire for myself what you desire for me, knowing that it is my best’. It can feel mad at first, but in time, writing God such blank cheques becomes remarkably freeing.
In all this, we find the book circling around to return to various aspects of the Christian life, inviting us to go deeper – as if we are peeling the layers off an onion. There is the challenge to face up to self-deception; and not to be precious about our ‘holiness’; and not to get so caught up in our inner journey that we neglect the call to follow Christ in a life of service in action. We are also encouraged to make our journey in the accountable companionship of a spiritual director or soul friend.
This is a book utterly rooted in the difficult realities of life. Later chapters address ‘When things are tough’ and ‘Dealing with hurts in personal relationships’. Often, circumstances are not as we’d like – perhaps we face issues of health or mortality; or are disappointed in our career expectations. We also all have to face up to the fact that, in various ways, we are broken and flawed, and so all our relationships will also be, to some degree broken and flawed. As is often said, hurt people hurt people. In other words, we have to acknowledge that we are all sinners, and in need of God’s help.
And yet to recognise this is to find the source of great freedom and liberty, which are hallmarks of the grace-filled gospel of Jesus Christ. For this is not one of those self-help books that offer and impossibly idealistic way of living that just makes one’s heart sink as one reads, knowing that one will just fail from the word go. This is a book that addresses what it means to be ‘only human’ and reminds us that it is in our humanity that God loves us and meets us and desires to walk with us.”
The kindle version is available for purchase from anywhere in the world, and in South Africa the print version is also available