cover image Fertile Soil in a Barren Land: A Desert Odyssey for the Soul

Fertile Soil in a Barren Land: A Desert Odyssey for the Soul

Renee Miller, . . Morehouse, $15.95 (145pp) ISBN 978-0-8192-2135-3

In this thoughtful, elegant volume that is part memoir and part spiritual guidebook, "the physical desert terrain serves as the canvas upon which to paint a living picture of the desert reality in human life." Episcopal priest Miller uses her considerable literal desert familiarity and knowledge to illuminate the soul's terrain, traversing such concepts as silence, identity, darkness, belonging, community, release and sacrifice. Each brief chapter includes a viable prayer practice that would benefit greatly from a genuine desert interlude, but does not require a real sojourn. Aided by such simple tools as a journal and a Bible, readers can use Miller's straightforward exercises to delve into the riches of a seemingly lonely wasteland to replenish their souls. Although scripted from a Christian perspective, most of the content can be appreciated by any person of faith. In contrast to the dry setting, Miller's prose is fluid: "We're amazed to hear the sounds of our own soul, and the whisper of heaven's voice, and the timorous tones that seek to crack our encrusted heart, and the quiet and steady beat of the earth itself." Desert aficionados in particular will find spiritual oasis here. (Sept.)