Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A commercial break -- in time for Christmas shopping

My books Soul of the Night and Honey From Stone are now available from Cowley Publications in a beautiful matched-set edition. (You can find Amazon customer reviews here and here.)

Soul was first published by Simon & Schuster; Honey by Dodd, Mead and Penguin. When they went out of print, they were picked up by Hungry Mind, aka Ruminator. When Hungry Mind went out of business a few years ago, Cowley asked if they could take over. I am grateful to them.

You might think that the subtitle for Honey from Stone -- A Naturalist's Search for God -- is an odd choice for an atheist/agnostic/pantheist/theist (take your pick; I can live with it). The book is full of science, but infused too with the prayerful spirit of the medieval mystics. The word "God" appears twice in the book. In the last lines of the introduction...

This is not a work of metaphysics or theology. It is instead a kind of serendipitous adventure, a spiritual vagabond's quest. I have tramped the landscapes of the Dingle Peninsula, studying the rocks, the sky, the flora and the fauna, and I took whatever scraps of revelation I could find. I sought the burning bush and did not find it. But I found the honeysuckle and the fuchsia, and I found the heather and the gorse. When I called out for the Absolute, I was answered by the wind. If it was God's voice in the wind, then I heard it.

...and on the book's last page, where I have been talking about the star Vega.

A grainy stuttering of heat on a photograph -- knowledge condensing from a sea of mystery, extending the shore along which we might encounter God. (Can that ancient, much-abused word still have currency in an age of science? Perhaps not. But let it stand, like a distant horizon, like a foreign shore.) Este saber no sabiendo, "this knowing that unknows," is what John of the Cross called it, the knowing that takes place just here on the surface of the eye where Vega and the thought of Vega are one. Photons of radiant energy stream across the light-years, wind-whipped whitecaps of visible light and the longer swells of the infrared, to fall upon the Earth out of the dark night -- denying, revealing, hiding, making plain. I am soaked by starlight; I am blown by a stellar wind. I am bent low in that downpour of revelation.

The title, by the way, comes from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, paraphrasing the Old Testament: "More things are learnt in the woods than from books; trees and rocks will teach you things not to be heard elsewhere. You will see for yourselves that honey may be gathered from stones and oil from the hardest rock."