Review: Occasions for Alleulia, David Adam

Occasions for Alleulia, David Adam.

SPCK say this is:
A brand new book from one of the best-loved figures in Celtic spirituality. He encourages us to stop and find ways to praise God in our daily lives, with much food for thought and reflection. The book also features gorgeous watercolour illustrations by our very own SPCK designer, Monica Capoferri.

If I don’t post this review now, I won’t finish it at all, so I’m afraid we’re going to have to go with ‘good enough’ rather than ‘perfectly honed.’

This was my first foray into David Adam’s writing and any formal expression of Celtic spirituality. I don’t think it was quite what I was expecting, but still made a good read.

The book invites us to slow down, and find those ‘occasions for alleluia’ in our daily lives. Past reviews and blog posts here show that is always a challenge for me! So the simplicity with which the idea of rest is portrayed – sit, still, breathe – was reassuring. I also loved the image of ‘resting in God’ as being like a cat asleep on its owners lap – contented, relaxed.

Each chapter focuses on a state or a process by which we can increase awareness of the world around, based on the prayer of St Augustine of Hippo:

We shall be Amen and Alleluia.
We shall rest and we shall see.
We shall see and we shall know.
We shall know and we shall love.
We shall love and we shall praise.
Behold our end, which is no end.

So each chapter takes a line of the prayer such as ‘opening our eyes;’ ‘Seeing with the heart’ or ‘loving the world.’ Each chapter finishes with an exercise which looks simple on paper but would be incredibly challenging in practice. “Now still your mind with a single word or sentence.” Crikey, if I could manage that I’d be a very different person!

Like Lay Anglicana I read this book quickly, which absolutely doesn’t do it justice. Skimming the pages, looking for the inspiration – exactly the opposite of what this book is about. I was reading in the middle of a busy city. It was an interesting contrast to read about the need to slow down and find space to see, know and love. The image of ‘unbending the bow’ – of the consequences of being too tightly strung for too long – was of real interest. Much of the imagery, based in nature, and the countryside, felt a little irrelevant at first – I live in a mostly urban world. It ceased feeling awkward once I had begun to understand more about the writer.

I enjoyed the book, and will endeavour to find the time for a more considered read. But next time, I’ll try to be somewhere more peaceful than rush hour in a city.

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