Delightful Lessons from a Sacred Summer Reading List

Delightful Lessons from a Sacred Summer Reading List

There is so much to learn on this journey of spiritual activism and sacred service, and I have a stack of books on my nightstand to aid me on this path. And while I don’t believe that book knowledge alone is the key to social change, read on for a sampling of amazing gifts and insights to be had from this summer’s reading list! I look forward to finding out what is on your list and encourage you to post reviews in the comments section of this blog. I will confess openly, I’m sentimental about books. I don’t own a Kindle and though I do enjoy a good podcast as much as the next gal on-the-go, I love the feeling of an actual book. You know, the weight of the work in my hands, the texture of the paper, the feeling of joy and abundance that a new book conjures. There is a completeness a book brings, going back to my earliest days in the library of my youth where a few new titles was all it took to create a perfect summer day and make me feel like all the world’s gifts were mine. And to this day a stack of good books fills me with a sense of wonder and abundance.

Lately my stack features a healthy dose of playful fiction to compliment the political and environmental non-fiction and remind me how vital joy is to any struggle for justice. The occasional poetry collections, spiritual texts and personal empowerment books ensure I am tickling both sides of my brain and my heart as well, a hearty recipe for sustaining the long road ahead.

Here are a few favorites from this summer’s reading list:

The Gift: Poems by Hafiz The Great Sufi Master
Lest for a moment we forget the full magnitude of our own unique radness as we work for a better world, Hafiz is always good to remind us of our divinity with little ditties like this:

I wish I could show you
When you are lonely or in darkness
The astonishing Light of
Your own being.

The Spiritual Activist: Practices to Transform Your Life, Your Work and Your World by Claudia Horwitz

Chock full of fabulous quotes, activities for personal exploration, and potent first person accounts by activists, this book provides a grounding foundation into the realm of spiritual activism. It’s great to ingest in small sips before bed and reminds me what a gift small, easy, daily practices can be.

The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism by Andrew Harvey.
Harvey’s book also offers practical tools and insights, including his ‘10 Ways to become a Sacred Activist’ available online here.

Says Harvey: “Sacred Activism is a transforming force of compassion-in-action that is born of a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage, love, and passion, with wise radical action in the world. The large-scale practice of Sacred Activism can become an essential force for preserving and healing the planet and its inhabitants.”

The 10 Ways are fabulous for newbies and seasoned activists alike: simple, elegant, and deeply transformative.

Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution From the People Who Brought You The Yes Men, Billionaires for Bush, Etc (assembled by Andrew Boyd)
Full disclosure, I am a contributor to this book, which offers short, sassy bites of strategies, tactics, principles, insights and case studies about creative social actions from Gandhi to Occupy and beyond. Designed to help activists isolate the ‘strategy muscle’ in their brain and begin to strengthen it, this volume is available in full online at and open for your submissions and addendums. Written by a crowd of amazing change makers, this book is more activism than spiritual, but I think you will love it.

The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
Every summer I bring back a work from the summer reading lists of my past, sometimes I’m not even sure why until I’ve dug in and experienced their gifts anew. In this book the young character Frankie sees couples and cliques around her and noticing they all are part of a ‘we’ wonders “Where is the ‘we’ of me?” She embodies a quest for connection, community and belonging that is universal, and one that can be fulfilled in the deep connection that is forged in community engagement and social movements.

The Words of Gandhi by Mahatma Gandhi and Richard Attenborough
Essential reading for anyone who wants to, as Gandhi says, ‘be the change you want to see in the world’. This particular collection by Richard Attenborough offers some of Gandhi’s musings on the topics of daily life, cooperation, nonviolence, faith and peace. For spiritual activists, especially those contemplating creative action, Gandhi’s words are like oxygen.

Rumi: Fountain of Fire Translated by Nader Khalili
My tattered copy has been with me for decades, a gift of Amazon Watch founder and spiritual activist Atossa Soltani.

One poem in particular reminds me of the infinite possibilities of Loving Kindness (Metta Practice) and the teachings of spiritual activists Joanna Macy and Sharon Salzberg:

if you pass your night
and merge it with dawn
for the sake of heart
what do you think will happen

if the entire world
is covered with the blossoms
you have labored to plant
what do you think will happen

if the elixir of life
that has been hidden in the dark
fills the desert and towns
what do you think will happen

if because of
your generosity and love
a few humans find their lives
what do you think will happen

if you pour an entire jar
filled with joyous wine
on the head of those already drunk
what do you think will happen

go my friend bestow your love
even on your enemies
if you touch their hearts
what do you think will happen

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