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intrinsic-hope

Intrinsic Hope: Living Courageously in Troubled Times

By Kate Davies. New Society Publishers, 2018. 208 pages. $18.99/paperback or eBook.

After many years working for Earth on the environmental and climate crises, both as staff of Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) and in other capacities, I find this book comes as a breath of fresh air. For more than 30 years QEW has emphasized that the Earth crisis we face is, at its core, a spiritual crisis and that we must learn how to be in unity with nature, which includes being in unity with ourselves. This book helps us learn how to do that second part so that we are grounded as we work.

Kate Davies makes a distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic hope:

Extrinsic hope is about hoping to achieve improvements in our external circumstances.… In contrast, intrinsic hope is the internal state of mind.… It is a positive attitude to life that does not depend on achieving improvements in our personal circumstances or in the world at large.

She then gives excellent suggestions for ways to build, strengthen, and renew our intrinsic hope. She describes this hope as an emerging small light inside us that brightens as we become more aware of it and warms our whole body. Tools to help us nurture this hope include being present, expressing gratitude, loving the world, accepting what is, and taking action. Each of these tools is developed in its own chapter.

Davies describes the eco‐social crises we are in and acknowledges the despair that, at times, sweeps over her. Certainly, we have all felt that despair, but we can move through it to find the grounding we need to work for healing our culture and planet. Throughout the book, the author shares from years of experience working on environmental and social issues.

I found many rich ideas while reading the book and began to share them with someone having a rough time seeing some light in the darkness. He felt warmed by her words and wisdom. As Friends, we know that the Light within illuminates the path to Spirit/God. And Davies is a Quaker and a Buddhist, drawing on those experiences to ground her important work. This book is an important companion for those of us traveling that path.

Ruah Swennerfelt is a member of Burlington (Vt.) Meeting and is sojourning with Middlebury (Vt.) Meeting. She and her husband live in an all-solar home where they grow vegetables and fruits and try to live gently on the land. She's active in the national and local Transition Movement and is the author of Rising to the Challenge.

Posted in: April 2019 Books, Humor in Religion, Quaker Book Reviews

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