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Subject areas include: feminist theology, spiritual life, meditation and ritual, contemporary social issues and women's health, psychology and world religions. We also have fiction, art books, poetry and biography.

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Sophia Library book review

The Cushion in the Road

The New Press New York 2013

by Alice Walker [814.54 WAL]

I really don’t want to review this book of treasures, because then I will have to return it and let someone else feast on it. It is just as good - or even better - than all the other Alice Walker books, and her writing is still getting stronger and more potent, if you ever thought that was possible. The curious title caught my attention, but the sub-title made it impossible to pass it up and leave it for someone else to have: ‘Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm’s Way.’ It contains a compendium of her writing from 2008 till 2012, a gift of 362 blessed pages of it: articles, letters, poems, speeches, memories. You can open it at any random page and have your breath taken away by the beauty and strength of her words. You could weep at any one of them. In the year that Alice turned 60, she prepared to retire to her home in Mexico ‘with a splendid view of a home made fountain, with its softly falling water a perfect, soothing backdrop’ to her final twenty years of life. Her cushion awaited in her meditation room, and visions of a (hoped for) grand daughter and stillness beckoned. As is its way, life threw her three curved balls close together: Barack Obama ran for President, she heard on the radio that bombs were falling on Gaza, and she saw a story of a mother who unconscious herself, had lost all five of her daughters. Being Alice Walker, student activist in the Civil Rights Movement (doesn’t that sound easy when you say it?) and then in every way open (and some not open) to her in the ensuing 40 years, she could not sit on her beautiful cushion. Urgency drove her and she set off travelling the world and writing her witness: from celebrations in Washington DC through Myanmar, Thailand, Gaza and Israel, Jordan, India, Kerala and Dharamsala. She felt torn between her desire to live a meditative life, and her deep response to the need for action. One night she had a dream of her rose-coloured meditation cushion sitting directly on the yellow line in the middle of the highway just outside of her grandparents’ home. Her cushion was on the road. This was the solution to her dilemma: So what do I believe? That I was born to wander and I was born to sit. To love home with a sometimes almost unbearable affection, but to be lured out into the world to see how it is doing, as my beloved larger home and paradise. I am not going to tell you about what she has written. I know you will love it when you get your turn to read it. I just want to sing in celebration that the world can hold such a wonderful woman.

by Pauline Small.

225 Cross Road, Cumberland Park,
Adelaide 5041
South Australia

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