Ways of the Desert: Becoming Holy Through Difficult Times / Edition 1

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Discover how negative experiences such as loneliness, depression, and anxiety can be opportunities for personal growth!

Ways of the Desert: Becoming Holy Through Difficult Times analyzes the similarities and differences between spiritual and psychological experiences. This book shows religious professionals and others interested in spiritual development how suffering can foster growth. You will explore the so-called “negative” desert experiences—depression, anxiety, loneliness, guilt, and anger—and learn how they can be opportunities for spiritual growth. This book explains why opposites are necessary and related parts of healthy and holy development, and that, especially in a spiritual life, the positive and negative are related. Ways of the Desert will take you on a journey through the “deserts” and “promised lands” of adolescence, adulthood, and the elderly years.

In most Western cultures the acceptance of opposites as a necessary and related part of healthy and holy growth is not common, and its rejection can engender spiritual stagnation. Ways of the Desert offers suggestions on creating lifelong spirituality including:

  • understanding the need for both “clock” time for functional order and “sacred” time to redeem us from the boredom of our daily challenges
  • understanding the languages of the desert, or the messages that are primarily nonverbal, ambiguous, or ambivalent
  • using effective communication when expressing feelings such as shame, frustration, anger, or anguish
  • examining the similarities and differences between psychological and spiritual activity
  • comparing psychological twelve-step help programs to spiritual growth journeys

    This extraordinary book works to help you make sense of your life when you feel lost, trapped, depressed, or lonely. You will attain spiritual guidance to assist you on your journey through life and help you understand that the deserts of negative experiences that we sometimes wander into can be illuminating opportunities for spiritual progress. Ways of the Desert will guide you through difficult and challenging times and help you achieve spiritual satisfaction and happiness in life.

This book analyzes how spiritual experiences are similar to, yet differ from psychological ones. Readers will explore how the so-called “negative” desert experiences like depression, anxiety, lonliness, guilt and anger, can be opportunities for spiritual growth. This book explains that opposites are necessary and related parts of healthy and holy development, and that especially in a spiritual life, the positive and negative are related. This book offers readers a journey through the deserts and promised lands of adolescence, young established mid-life, middle-aged adulthood, and the elderly years.

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Editorial Reviews

P.C. Voice
Who hasn't read a modern self-help or spiritual-awareness book that suggests contentment, security and happiness are just around the corner -- if one only knows the secret? Try this or that technique and self-fulfillment is but a page away.
Kraft begs to differ. People will always be somewhat discontent, insecure and unhappy as they travel through life. "This is the nature of being on earth," he writes early on in his discourse. Such struggles are not necessarily bad. They are part of being perpetual pilgrims, which is what being human is all about.
Depression, anger, grief, boredom, disenchantment - viewed and responded to as negative forces - can stunt spiritual development. There is another way, however, through times that seem barren of joy. This other way can, according to Kraft, "can give birth to new growth." Instead of trying to skip over these parts of life's journey, or ignore them, it is those who accept them as normal experiences and chances for new understanding that are most likely to deepen their spirituality.
Kraft incorporates real words from real pilgrims of all ages to underscore his point. A variety of people share their wounds -- and their ways of accepting and thus gaining from them. The honest reader will no doubt recognize many of the thoughts expressed. The brave reader will join these pilgrims on the journey through, rather than around, the desert.
Ultimately, it is an individual choice what to do with those feelings most people would rather suppress. Those unafraid, however, to cross the desert, will understand life is not a goal, but a journey with both peaks and valleys. A journey to a more holy state of "being."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789008602
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Series: Doubleday Religion Book Club Selection! Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 178
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Table of Contents


  • Preface
  • Chapter 1. Desert Stories
  • Pilgrim People
  • Chapter 2. A Vision of Spiritual Development
  • Deserts
  • Deserts as Creative Suffering
  • Promised Lands
  • Time
  • Is a Stage Approach Valid?
  • Chapter 3. Desert Life
  • Being in the Desert
  • The Desert as a Fundamental Life Force
  • Chapter 4. Desert Languages
  • Loneliness
  • Aloneness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Boredom
  • Apathy
  • Anguish
  • Chapter 5. Adolescence
  • Desert of Disenchantment
  • Land of Enchantment
  • Chapter 6. Young Adulthood
  • Desert of Discovery
  • Land of Surrender
  • Chapter 7. Established Adulthood
  • Desert of Self-Concern
  • Land of Self-Actualization
  • Chapter 8. Midlife Adulthood
  • Desert of Limits
  • Land of Unlimitedness
  • Chapter 9. Middle-Aged Adulthood
  • Desert of Depression
  • Land of Joy
  • Chapter 10. The Elder Years
  • Desert of Death
  • Land of Life
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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