In the Spirit: The Inspirational Writings of Susan L. Taylor

In the Spirit: The Inspirational Writings of Susan L. Taylor

by Susan L. Taylor, Susan Taylor

Twenty-two lifelines to personal growth and fulfillment from the editor in chief of Essence magazine.

When Susan L. Taylor rose to editor in chief of Essence magazine more than a decade ago, she began writing an editorial column in which she shares her thoughts and feelings about how developing one's inner awareness ensures the wisdom and

…  See more details below


Twenty-two lifelines to personal growth and fulfillment from the editor in chief of Essence magazine.

When Susan L. Taylor rose to editor in chief of Essence magazine more than a decade ago, she began writing an editorial column in which she shares her thoughts and feelings about how developing one's inner awareness ensures the wisdom and clarity needed to create a deeply satisfying and fulfilling life.

The monthly column called "In the Spirit" is one of the most popular in the magazine.

Susan L. Taylor connects with the reader in a personal and meaningful way, in a voice that is sisterly, informed, and motivating. She challenges her readers to transcend their fears, to face inevitable challenges in their lives courageously, and to use change as an opportunity to grow. "We limit ourselves because change may well mean dealing with the disapproval of the very people we rely on for support. Often words of inspiration and motivation, but she also suggests specific methods for working through problems and improving our emotional and spiritual health.

"We are not powerless spectators of life. We are co-creators with God, and all around is are the gifts, the clay, that we can use to shape our world," she says.

Susan L. Taylor writes passionately about what she has seen and learned in the course of her travels throughout the United States, Caribbean, and Africa. Her essays have helped many to balance the demanding world of work and business with the personal world of family and friendship. She shares bits of her own life—her loves, her trails, and triumphs—and the lessons she's learned.

Many of Susan L. Taylor's readers already collect her editorials and find in them a source of encouragement, self-affirmation, empowerment, and peace of mind. Now they can have new essays and a few previously published favorites elegantly bound in a gift-sized paperback edition to keep for themselves or to give as a gift of love to those who are special to them.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Taylor, the editor-in-chief of Essence , mixes personal anecdotes, black pride and an upbeat spirituality in these brief essays, many of them reprinted from her magazine. Though the wisdom she dispenses is hardly original, her direct style and warmth should reach her target audience of African American women. ``We'll never feel content if our happiness depends on someone else's behavior,'' Taylor writes, noting that she has learned to measure success not by wealth but through ``happiness, personal satisfaction and being of service to others.'' Her most powerful essays are the most self-revealing: in one clearly painful recollection, she concludes that her father's furious reaction to her surreptitious meeting with a young man humiliated her but may ultimately have saved her. ``What I felt was a shameful experience that put a damper on my sexuality actually prevented me from becoming pregnant as a teenager.'' Although Taylor regularly invokes a Christian God, that God is nondenominational and her exhortations are not to doctrine but to a more personal faith. First serial to Essence; author tour. (Nov.)
Library Journal
The editor-in-chief of Essence , Taylor writes deeply personal yet relevant essays that affirm the necessity of faith, love, belief, endurance, intuition, acceptance of life in the face of death, health, and intimacy. Taylor writes first of all for black women, sharing her experience of poverty after divorce and of finding faith not only in God but also in herself. Yet ultimately what Taylor writes appeals to common humanity while encouraging transcendence--perhaps most powerfully set forth by her friend Marie, suffering from cancer, who suddenly, helplessly watched her house burn with all of her children inside but who later found the courage to become an advocate for children. Highly recommended.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harper Perennial
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 7.30(h) x 0.14(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


There are glorious times in our lives when we experience the peace we are seeking — when we surrender our burdens to God, put our faith in God's love and feel the freedom of that sweet communion. I know that you, too, have felt the comfort of the Presence — the security we have when focused inward through prayer or meditation. The sense of inner peace we experience listening to a moving sermon or inspirational tape, or reading comforting words of wisdom in a spiritual book. During these times of bliss we often declare, "I've got it, I have the key!" We believe we've finally found our inner peace, that absolute answer we've been searching for. But if your experience is in any way like mine, after a few months, weeks or sometimes just hours you've lost it again, you're back in the fray, feeling overwhelmed by the pressures and demands of your life.

Focusing inward through prayer, meditation or any spiritual communion makes us feel centered and calm. We feel an inner serenity. We are one with God. But why is 'it so difficult to maintain that awareness, to live with it? My life feels anchored and peaceful when I'm enjoying sunrise meditations, my fragrant candlelit baths and spiritual readings and tapes. But little by little the rituals that sustain me are pushed aside as more and more of my time and attention are demanded by the world.

Although ''getting it" can happen in a flash, keeping the awareness of God's presence within and the peace of mind this truth gives us is never easy. Unfortunately, as the world calls us, we abandon theimportant rituals that nourish us, that keep us healthy and sane. The regular visits to the gym go. We have no time to spare for daily meditation, no time to mend the spirit. No time for fun, no time to play. We're overextended. We're committed to everyone — everyone except ourselves. So we feel evil and tired. We're cranky and fretful — we've given all our stuff away.

Being the guardian of our inner life must become our highest priority. We must never allow people, institutions or social tradition to speak to us so loudly that we cannot hear ourselves. When you don't take quiet time, time to listen inwardly, you look outside yourself for salvation and definition. By ignoring your own spiritual bidding, you dishonor yourself and risk becoming a pain-filled impostor as you give way to the pressures in your environment. You may betray yourself and settle for a relationship without intimacy or mutual support — the very things you need most — because you fear being alone and desperately want to be part of a couple. Or you may find yourself anchored to a bustling city when your spirit requires the respite of birds and trees. or working for a company half your life, unappreciated and undercompensated, when all along your spirit has been whispering, Start a business of your own.

When we don't nourish Spirit in us, we become estranged from ourselves and may try to satisfy our natural hunger for communion in harmful ways. There are invitations all around us to use food and drink and other life-threatening addictions to pleasure ourselves. We can't benefit from our inner wisdom if we don't take time to listen inwardly. The wise voice at the center of our being, where Spirit lives, is never silent. Thank God.

Life is first an inner experience. All the peace and security we are seeking is within us. Love, wisdom, strength and beauty are the primary attributes of Spirit, the unchanging and fundamental core of our being. Love, wisdom, strength and beauty are the very substance of who we are. just as water cannot be separated from a wave, we cannot be separated from our essence, our divinity. We are never without God. But without regular spiritual communion, we forget about our divine nature, we lose the awareness of our spiritual power and ours becomes a halting, feeble existence because we are living without the benefit of our greatest strength.

If we sincerely want harmony, peace and joy in our lives, we can have them, but we must be willing to do the work. We must make maintaining an awareness of our spiritual nature first in our lives. Our inner world is the architect of our external world. We don't lose faith in the goodness of life because we are angry and depressed. Rather, we become angry and depressed because we lose faith in the goodness of life, We aren't happy because we are healthy, we're healthy because we are happy. With our minds we are creating our days; by our choices we are building either the harmony or the pain we experience.

The life you are living reflects the life you have already established inside. As we acquire and assimilate spiritual knowledge, we liberate ourselves. The imaginary boundary between our inner and outer lives that is drawn as we leave childhood and begin looking outside ourselves for definition is dissolved. Immediate and profound changes occur in every area of our lives as we make learning and applying spiritual insights first in importance. We begin to see that the inner and the outer are the same. We realize that continuous communion with God is the only way to remain conscious of our spiritual nature in the face of our constant daily pressures.

When we are conscious of our divinity, we catch the light, we see the truth. We have the wisdom, courage and stamina to endure, to overcome and succeed. As we develop our latent spiritual power, we become the masters of our own lives, and we are able to create lifelines for our people, for our sisters and brothers who are drowning. When we are living from within, we recognize the potential for spiritual growth in each moment.

Read More

Meet the Author

Susan L. Taylor has been editor in chief of Essence since 1981. She received her B.A. from Fordham University, honorary doctorates from Lincoln University and Delaware State College, the Women in Communications Matrix Award, the dozens of other awards and citations for community work. She lives in New York City with her husband, Kephra Burns.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >