Writing the Icon of the Heart

Maggie Ross Writing the Icon of the Heart: In Silence Beholding Cascade Books, 2013


“The subtitle of Maggie Ross’s new book captures its essence, for it is about silence and our need to behold God. Beholding is a notion that we are in danger of losing. It is often lost in translation, even by the NRSV and the Jerusalem Bible. Beholding needs to be recovered both in theology and practice. Ross is very aware of ”poor talkative Christianity.” There is a twofold plea to enter into silence–for lack of silence erodes our humanity–and to behold the radiance of God. This is a book full of deep questioning and the testing of our assumptions. Throughout there is a great love for the world and for our humanity, accompanied by sadness that we are so easily distracted . . . .

We are invited into a silence that is not necessarily an absence of noise, but is a limitless interior space. Ancient texts are used in new and exciting ways, and many of our worship practices are challenged. She is in no doubt that ”the glory of the human being is the beholding of God.”

Maggie Ross is the pseudonym of a professed Anglican solitary responsible to the Archbishop of Canterbury. After many years in Alaska, she is now based full-time in Oxford, England, where she researches and writes books, papers, and liturgies. She also preaches, lectures, leads retreats, and engages in pastoral care. Among her other books are The Fire of Your Life, Pillars of Flame, and The Fountain and the Furnace.

She blogs at http://ravenwilderness.blogspot.com.au/

“Martha Reeves (born 1941) is an Anglican solitary (or anchorite). A graduate of the Madeira School, Class of 1959, she is also a Stanford educated professor of theology and a mystic under vows to Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. She has written a series of books under the name “Maggie Ross”, most notably The Fire Of Your Life.  She lives in Oxford, UK. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Reeves_(anchorite)

Maggie Ross Silence: A User’s Guide – Volume 1: Process Cascade Books, 2014


“Silence is essential for the health and well-being of humans and the environment in which they live. Yet silence has almost vanished from our lives and our world. Of all the books that claim to be about silence, this is the only one that addresses silence directly. Silence: A User’s Guide is just what the title says: it is a guide to silence, which is both a vast interior spaciousness, and the condition of our being in the natural world. This book exposes the processes by which silence can transfigure our lives–what Maggie Ross calls “the work of silence”; it describes how lives steeped in silence can transfigure other lives unawares. It shows how the work of silence was once understood to be the foundation of the teaching of Jesus, and how this teaching was once an intrinsic part of Western Christianity; it describes some of the methods by which the institution suppressed the work of silence, and why religious institutions are afraid of silence. Above all, this book shows that the work of silence gives us a way of being in the world that is more than we can ask for or imagine.”

Maggie Ross The Fountain and the Furnace: The Way of Tears and Fire Wipf and Stock, 2014


Endorsements: “”Tears are a little-known subject spiritually to most people, and Maggie Ross is very helpful in giving us both a historical grounding and a contemporary personal relevance for it.”” –Tilden Edwards, Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation “”Maggie Ross has written a lovely, intelligent, and costly book: costly in that it is evident that it cost her a great deal to write it, and costly in that the conscientious reader cannot but be challenged by it.”” –Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco “”This is the only major work on tears today. A fountain in the desert, this book fills a genuine need–which is more than most books can claim.”” –David Steindl-Rast, OSB “”Maggie Ross skillfully examines the gift and way of tears in relation to the evolution of Christian thought and spiritual theology. Her thesis that ‘tears release us from the prison of power and control into the vast love and infinite possibility of God’ is truly ecumenical.”” –William H. Frey II, author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears

Maggie Ross The Fire of Your Life Seabury Press, 2007


“A life-professed solitary and mystic under vows to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ross writes with the wonder and energy of a spiritual poet. In this new edition of a spiritual classic, she shares one year of her solitude in seasonal meditations that include encounters with lynxes and coyotes, reflections on the summer solstice, and desire for union with God. An excellent source of sermon ideas.

In one essay, Ross reveals the two comments she receives most are “You don’t look like a hermit,” followed by “What do you do in solitude?” She answers, “I don’t do, I be.” Only an experienced mystic could put the emphasis on being and not doing. Being in solitude, Ross has plenty of time to savor the beauties and the bounties of the natural world and animals. She does both here. We were also impressed with pieces on the importance of an informing vision, the value of chastity, and the difficulty of intercessory prayer. We are always on the lookout for passages on unity and here is one we liked:

“It is that my sin and your sin consists not in isolated small or gross acts committed or omitted by our choices and actions, or in some vague, isolated theoretical attitude, but instead that we, you and I, by virtue of our common humanity, and in the solitude from which true relationship springs, come to realize that we are implicated in every sin.

“I am the pimp on 42nd Street, dealing in bodies. I am the pusher, selling drugs to an addict nodding and drooling in Needle Park. I am the employee ripping off my corporation. I am the industrialist pouring poison into the bodies and, by advertising, into the souls of my sisters and brothers. I am the driver of the military juggernaut, careening wildly out of control. I struggle impotently to express who I really am.””

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