Treasure at the Bottom of my Garden
by Judy Roblin (Matador, £8.99)
Judy Roblin is a retired social worker now living in Wales. Her writings in The Tablet will be familiar to some. She has made for herself a poustinia in a shed-like hut at the end of her garden. To this little ‘desert’ she retired to pray and reflect through the course of a year. The results of her mediations make up this little book.
She provides a list of some of the writers who have influenced her, but for her readers this account of a passage through the seasons will itself become a source book on its own. But hers is not a too-withdrawn world. She lives very much through the cycles of everyday events, suggesting that others too can imitate her in the same sort of retreat. She emerges from the dark passages of her life into an illuminated present. A moving yet delightful book.
Acedia and the transformation of spiritual malaise: Essays in honour of Martin McAlinden
edited by Wayne Morris (University of Chester Press, £13.99)
These days many priests, indeed clergy of all kinds, feel they suffer in ways that the clergy never suffered before. Martin McAlinden’s insight, however, was to turn back from his own situation and to try and see it in the light of the early medieval idea of acedia – the “agenbyte of ynwit”, the voice of conscience. He found, human nature being what it is, that the situation he was confronting was not a new one, whatever might be said about modern life, but a part of the human condition.
The realisation that others in the past had struggled with and come to terms with their problems through the grace of God, was a study on which he was engaged when he died.
This book consists of what he managed to write, with the responses of eight others, with their various insights into both his essay and what they themselves have found.
Readers should not be concerned that no final conclusion was reached by the author – all human schemes are incomplete in some way or other, but there is much to be learned from his journey.
Love Church: An adventure in church planting
by Tim Mathews (Hodder & Stoughton, £9.99)
Here is a book which will interest many kinds of Christian. Tim Matthews, a minister of the Church of England, and his wife had made attempts at ‘church planting’ in London and failed. But moving west to Bournemouth they achieved a breakthrough to what they hoped for at St Swithun’s.
His outlook, activities and success exude energy and confidence in the future. Though what he set up may not appeal to all, any sort of success is always encouraging. Many a harassed Catholic parish priest may find things here to learn from.