By Steve Taylor. New World Library, 2020. 136 pages. $18.95/hardcover or eBook.
For many of us, sustaining the habit of a daily, or at least consistent, meditation practice is a real challenge amid the demands of a busy schedule and life in the twenty-first century. Being open and truly present to each moment is the overarching goal for those who seek to practice the art of mindfulness. As Quakers, we often strive to incorporate such practices into our life as a way of living in the Light and practicing our faith.
Poetry and inspirational readings can be useful tools for moving into that sacred space. Steve Taylor’s “spiritual reflections and meditations” in his most recent book, The Clear Light, are such tools. His lovely poetry and artful reflections are filled with suggestions and lessons for how we might still the mind and open the heart as we journey within to find the inner Light and hear the quiet voice of our own inner teacher. He inspires and challenges the reader to embrace the beauty and profound truth in each moment by being fully present, open, and aware, even in the midst of the mundane and repetitive but necessary tasks and challenges of everyday life.
In his very first poetic offering, “Meeting Purely in Presence,” he speaks directly to readers, connecting and inviting them to the present moment, “because we’re already related / knowing that there’s nothing we need to do / except allow ourselves to be.” The invitation to self-discovery and a deepening spiritual experience is woven throughout each page in the 60 poetic meditations that spark the imagination and inspire the soul.
The offerings in Taylor’s book, which is part of the publisher’s Eckhart Tolle Editions series, remind us of the daily choices we face when confronted with the stark realities of the world we live in and urge us to go “Beyond Fear” to “find a stable place, a vantage point / where you can stand still and watch the thoughts pass by / without being carried away.” Whatever our challenges or heartbreak, we are gently yet firmly entreated to open ourselves “to that spacious fullness,” and we’re promised that “Soon your mind will be empty / like a clear sky after a storm has passed. / And then there will be no more fear.”
Like the master teacher he is, Taylor illuminates a simple truth in “Creating Your Reality” when he reminds us that “To the mind there are no truths, only possibilities / that become manifest when it selects them / like particles that are everywhere and nowhere” until observation makes them real, so “why create your own reality / when reality already exists?” We would be more content and at peace if we “[l]et the past sleep, let the future wait / and let the present exist as it is / without your interpretation.”
The lessons continue page after page as he poses questions, lays bare the obvious, and guides us with words woven into the fabric of poetry. If you are looking for inspiration, reminders to be mindful, and the words of the wise to help you on your own spiritual path, this is a guidebook you’ll want to have.
Claire J. Salkowski is a member of Stony Run Meeting in Baltimore, Md., where she is active in the life and committee work of the meeting. Claire also attends the Northern Neck Worship Group when she stays at her home in the Northern Neck of Virginia. She is currently an educational consultant and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) specialist.