One Ojibway's MeditationsBook - 2016
"Life sometimes is hard. There are challenges. There are difficulties. There is pain. As a younger man I sought to avoid them and only ever caused myself more of the same. These days I choose to face life head on--and I have become a comet. I arc across the sky of my life and the harder times are the friction that lets the worn and tired bits drop away. It's a good way to travel; eventually I will wear away all resistance until all there is left of me is light. I can live towards that end."
--Richard Wagamese, Embers
In this carefully curated selection of everyday reflections, Richard Wagamese finds lessons in both the mundane and sublime as he muses on the universe, drawing inspiration from working in the bush--sawing and cutting and stacking wood for winter as well as the smudge ceremony to bring him closer to the Creator. Embers is perhaps Richard Wagamese's most personal volume to date. Honest, evocative and articulate, he explores the various manifestations of grief, joy, recovery, beauty, gratitude, physicality and spirituality--concepts many find hard to express. But for Wagamese, spirituality is multifaceted. Within these pages, readers will find hard-won and concrete wisdom on how to feel the joy in the everyday things. Wagamese does not seek to be a teacher or guru, but these observations made along his own journey to become, as he says, "a spiritual bad-ass," make inspiring reading.
From the critics
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This is a lovely, thoughtful book made up of musings and meditations by writer Richard Wagamese, well known for his masterful novels like Indian Horse and Medicine Walk. While he is reportedly working on the sequel to Medicine Walk, we can content ourselves with this small, intimate offering.
Though a shorter book, in both content and size, it is filled with beautiful full-colour photos throughout. There are many pages that have an image overlaid by a quote in fancy font, which look like they might fit right in on Instagram or Pinterest.
And yet, this is more than a fluffy visual treat. Wagamese is a deeply spiritual writer, and he values silence and ceremony as a way of life. This is what centres him and brings his art to life. Silence and stillness are integral to his creative practice.
His former blog was full of these kind of simple pieces that shared his eye on the world. Here, he includes things like dialogues with "Old Woman" about Creator and the meaning of life, appreciations of natural beauty, and recognition of the daily joys found in nature. None are more than a page long.
These small pieces feel poetic, feel like expressions of attention to the world. They are statements that stand alone, but that also track Wagamese's spiritual journey, that are an expression of his personal pondering along the way. It's the kind of book that you can read slowly, page by page, or just flip through and admire this nicely put together physical book, returning to read beyond just the quotes a little later.
For Wagamese's take on life and spirituality, drawn from his absolutely focused desire to live in harmony with Creator, I recommend you also check out this book. It's a beautiful and meditative experience that you can dip into again and again.
(first published in the Stratford Gazette, Feb 15, 2017)
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