The Art of Peace: Life lessons from Christian mystics

The Art of Peace: Life lessons from Christian mystics

Author : David Cole
£8.99

Explores how to live a life centred on and flowing with the peace of God

Deep inner peace and peace of mind with spiritual balance is something everyone wants, but how does one attain it? More importantly, how does one maintain it in the midst of everyday life? Moving through sections on Stillness, Silence, Solitude and Sanctuary, this book draws on the lived experience and learning of the author, as well as the wisdom of Christian contemplatives and mystics from the past, to help people walk the mystic path of peace through life.


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Title The Art of Peace: Life lessons from Christian mystics
Author David Cole
Description

Deep inner peace and peace of mind with spiritual balance is something everyone wants, but how does one attain it? More importantly, how does one maintain it in the midst of everyday life? Moving through sections on Stillness, Silence, Solitude and Sanctuary, this book draws on the lived experience and learning of the author, as well as the wisdom of Christian contemplatives and mystics from the past, to help people walk the mystic path of peace through life.

Details
  • Product code: 9780857469922
  • Published: 18 June 2021
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 144
  • Dimensions: 130mm wide and 198mm high

Deep inner peace and peace of mind with spiritual balance is something everyone wants, but how does one attain it? More importantly, how does one maintain it in the midst of everyday life? Moving through sections on Stillness, Silence, Solitude and Sanctuary, this book draws on the lived experience and learning of the author, as well as the wisdom of Christian contemplatives and mystics from the past, to help people walk the mystic path of peace through life.

David Cole (aka Brother Cassian) is an international spiritual teacher and retreat leader and the Deputy Guardian for the Community of Aidan and Hilda. He is the founder of Waymark Ministries, which creates opportunities for people to engage with the Christian message. His books include Celtic Advent and Celtic Lent (BRF, 2018), Celtic Saints and The Celtic Year (BRF, 2020).

 

The Julian Meetings Magazine, April 2022. Review by Janet Robinson

I glanced through this book and felt that perhaps I should be practising contemplative prayer rather than reading about it.

However, I did read it and found it comprehensive, deeply thoughtful and very helpful. Cole is a leader and spiritual guide in the Community of Aidan and Hilda, which seeks to apply lessons from the Celtic Church in Britain to the church of today.

The book is arranged in four sections which discuss Stillness, Silence, Solitude and Sanctuary. Much of David Cole‘s advice is practical. For example, he suggests how the reader might engage in learning to slow down: meditating momentarily ─ small moments in the day when we take a few breaths and re-centre; then creating a small period of time in the day just to sit and Be; planning to withdraw weekly for perhaps half a day; and, if it can be arranged, having a longer time once a month. He also suggests, at various points in the book, that the reader stops reading, puts the book down and is simply still for a little while. In this way it almost becomes a retreat in book form.

I particularly valued his pertinent examples from the works of other Christian mystics, including some favourites: Julian, the author of the Cloud of Unknowing and Meister Eckhart.

By reading very slowly and including the recommended pauses, this workbook could provide a home-based retreat during these days when travelling is difficult. It could enhance our own sense of peace.

Reviewed by Janet Robinson

 

Transforming Ministry, winter 2021-2022. Review by Margaret Tinsley

The Art of Peace

David Cole, known as Brother Cassian in his order, uses a mix of extracts from Christian mystics and his own experiences to accomplish his aim: ‘to transition the reader from being somebody interested in, or simply practising, contemplation to being a contemplative.’ He does this by considering four different areas: stillness, silence, solitude, sanctuary. He often challenges the reader by giving the instruction to stop reading, leave the book and practise, for example being still for a time. While the book is written in a relaxed, easily comprehensible style, the reader needs to accept the author’s terminology, most notably when he uses the term ‘the Divine’ as he feels the word ‘God’ is too limiting. His biblical quotations come from the Passion Translation, which often gives a fresh understanding of scripture. With his considerable awareness of Christian mystics of all ages and their works and his personal knowledge of the dispersed Community of Aidan and Hilda, David Cole provides material here for a retreat in book form.

Reviewed by Margaret Tinsley 

 

Church Times 24.09.21. Review by Anne Spalding

David Cole brings together writings, ancient and contemporary, under the themes of Stillness, Silence, Solitude, and Sanctuary. He starts with the need for stillness, drawing on Evelyn Underhill, Thomas Merton, Julian of Norwich, and Brother Lawrence, and inviting readers to slow down and stop intentionally, in order to ‘go and be’.

This invitation seems to be particularly for those who have not previously tried stillness, silence, and contemplation. The author’s style is colloquial, and he mostly uses ‘the Divine’, in case ‘God’ carries un - helpful images. Similarly, scriptural quotes are often from contemporary versions such as the Passion Translation, so that scripture can be read with fresh eyes.

Cole next describes the pursuit of silence to find the Divine presence, and the part played by listening in ‘the sound of sheer silence’ (like Elijah). He also introduces the practice of wordlessness in God’s presence; the need to move away from the limitations of language to be with the one who is indescribable.

Drawing on the Desert Fathers and Mothers, Cole goes on to focus on solitude in the cell. This is balanced with being ‘alone together’, which he illustrates with the Way of Life in his own (dispersed) community, the Community of Aidan and Hilda.

Lastly, Cole acknowledges that sometimes we need refuge or sanctuary, and explores reasons for this from Meister Eckhart, the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, St John of the Cross, and Anthony de Mello. He advocates finding sanctuary in the Divine presence within. Cole also recognises that many find closeness to the Divine in the natural world, describing this with writings from the Eastern Orthodox tradition and elsewhere.

To me, the various writings felt like a patchwork rather than a whole, but there is good material to explore, and references are provided for anyone wishing to follow up on a particular theme.

Dr Anne Spalding is a member of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis, and lives in Suffolk

 

 

Reviewed by Richard Frost

As his other books demonstrate, David Cole is a thought-provoking writer and The Art of Peace is no different.

Focussing on four key themes of stillness, silence, solitude and sanctuary, Brother Cassian (as he is known in the new monastic Community of Aidan and Hilda) explores how Celtic tradition has influenced many aspects of spirituality. Add in to that material from other strands of thought from a range of writers and this is a very rich book.

For those who are less familiar with contemplative approaches, this book provides a very good introduction. For those of us with some experience, there are helpful reminders of what may have been lost in the passing and rushing of time.

Like much writing on Christian mysticism some sections (some paragraphs even) require reading more than once. ‘You will have picked up that oxymorons and paradoxes are part and parcel of mysticism,’ the author acknowledges. But it is worth the extra effort.

Helpfully, at regularly intervals, the writer encourages the reader to stop, put the book down and reflect on the content of the relevant chapter. Using this book, he writes, ‘the reader will be able to transition from being someone interested in, or simply practising, contemplation to being a contemplative.’

There is of course much more to it than that but The Art of Peace is a very helpful thread in the tapestry of faith.

Richard Frost is the author of Life with St Benedict and writes a blog at workrestpray.com