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Posted February 22, 2009
This weekend I read Robert Benson's wonderful little gem, The Echo Within: Finding Your True Calling. The jacket cover description would lead you to believe that this is a helpful "how to" type of book that may give you the advice you need to improve your life. I suppose that this book could be that for some people but I feel like that description missed the mark. Benson will be the first to tell you that there is probably not much he can say that will give you the blueprint for finding your way. And that is exactly why this book is such a great read. Rather than map out the 3, 6, or 12 steps to better living, Benson tells a powerful story that invites the reader to listen to the familiar voice that knows you better than the self-help gurus. Instead of advice on what to do or not do, Benson gives us permission to find our true calling by recognizing that our calling is a moving target. Since this calling can only belong to us we cannot follow anyone else's footsteps as we pursue it. When we set our sights on that target and learn to follow it where ever it leads we will discover that we are at our best when we live into the story of who we are.
The book has the feel of Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and is easy to read. The conversational feel of the narrative is disarming and helps let some of the subtle strength of the book sink in. While there is a lot of talk about spiritual themes, the book is far from being "preachy." Benson is not trying to evangelize or proselytize anyone. He is more concerned with helping you hear your own echo within than amplify his for others to hear.
There are a lot of things I loved about this book that tie into my own ecclesial dreams. I wish I could have read it 20 years ago. In fact, if you are looking for a good, affordable gift for a graduate this spring Benson's book would be a great option. Benson encourages all of us to learn to value the totality of our journey -not just the good things, but the mistakes, wrong turns, course corrections, and failures as well. Perhaps the best way to summarize the book is to restate one of the quotes from Thomas Merton that Benson scatters throughout the book:
Jesus lived the ordinary life
of the men of His time,
in order to sanctify the ordinary lives
of men of all time.
If we want to be spiritual, then,
let us first of all live our lives.
Posted December 28, 2008
The Echo Within<BR/>Robert Benson<BR/>WaterBrook, Press, 2008<BR/>ISBN: 9781400074341<BR/>Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com, 12/08<BR/>5 Stars<BR/>Written with great wisdom¿<BR/>Robert Benson begins The Echo Within by asking a friend, ¿What does God sound like?¿ I have been pondering this question since reading it. Like Benson¿s friend, I have often wondered if I was following God¿s calling or did it come from me. ¿We will know your power and presence this day, if we will but listen for your voice. (Psalm 95)¿ <BR/>Not everyone is called to go to seminary, but we are all called to serve where we are. ¿Whatever work you do, whatever your calling, whatever are the specific details of living out the incarnate word spoken into you¿the details you must work out with fear and trembling¿¿Whatever our craft, we are called to do our work in ¿truth and beauty and for the common good¿¿ Benson shares his story with an open heart. He writes with wisdom. The Echo Within would make a great gift for a graduate.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 12, 2011
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