The Seven Whispers by Christine Baldwin, Reviewed by Cathleen Norman
Personal, conversational, intimate, this slender book offers insight and inspiration from a leader in spiritual-authorship. Christina Baldwin shares experiences, offers suggestions and gives guidance on our everyday lifepath. Questions asked, questions answered: Christina presents a seven-fold practice of simple concepts drawing from her spiritual mentors, personal stories and words of wisdom.
1. Peace of mind. Creating daily a quiet receptive state becomes the “cornerstone of spiritual life,” a source for spiritual direction. Conscious breathing and calming helps us suspend, for a moment, the “swirl of priorities and confusion of too many selves.” Christina recommends a three-breath mantra introduced by Vietnamese monk Thick Nhat: three slow breaths each with a slow thought let go… be here… now what? We can cultivate peace of mind by pausing in the early morning to “bow down to the day,” then prepare the day, the way, our heart.
2. Pace of guidance. With the courage to ask for spiritual guidance and the patience to listen, we can integrate and activate the answers – signs and signals that come in many forms, sometimes even stumbled upon. We can ask What do you want me to do? How do I need to change in order to do it? Now what? Then we can wait and invite encouragement even warnings. Christina suggests that we “move at the pace of guidance no matter [what] pace the world is asking us to move.”
3. Certainty of purpose. Rather than vaguely drifting we can set the course of our life, a focus that supports us in making choices within a spiritual context. To better balance personal needs with the desires with the greater good of the community, we can ask: What is trying to happen in my life? What size life am I willing to grow? We can craft an intention statement ‒ “right now in my life…” and consciously identify our choices and commitments. We can ask ourselves Why are we here? And what are we going to do about it? Then, we can observe and witness how our actions and lives contribute to humankind. Intentional purpose is served thus: making decisions everyday by first asking our soul for instruction. Guidance responds when we ask What is the next right thing? The purpose of life, Christina gently reminds us, is not to maintain our personal comfort but to grow our soul.
4. Surrendering to surprise. By embracing the experiences we did not choose, we can learn from disaster: we can survive and then learn to heal. A spiritual perspective helps us “hold whatever happens in a spiritual way.” We can surrender to “unexpected elements and experiences we might not have the courage to choose. Who choses pain, difficulty, loss, despair…? Who choses divorce, illness, job lay off…? Yet, these can serve as tools for personal and spiritual growth, Christina emphasizes. Even painful and bewildering experiences can become gifts.
Awakened awareness is aided by asking Why am I here? Why did this happen? Then we can notice, work with and accept what is really happening. We can gain and grow from seemingly negative events, especially when we “submit all choices to spiritual purpose and accept surprises along the way.”
5. Asking and offering. Asking for what we need and offering what we can… create a cycle of connecting, of giving and receiving, “a spiritual exchange of life’s energy, time and abundance.” Staying “awake and uncomfortable” pushes us beyond complacency towards a reciprocal relationship… where we “recognize opportunities we create as we cross each other’s path.”
6. Love. Not just family, friends and partners, but also love strangers, new neighbors, fellow travelers, “the folks in front of us.” “We are each other’s people,” Christina insists. We can reach out “on behalf of our own growth and on behalf of the healing needed all around us.” Through mutual listening and seeking, we can create a spiritual, divine connection with even the ordinary people we encounter. Thus we bless the world: by offering small yet significant acts of kindness and compassion.
7. Lastly, we return to the world. Spiritual lessons come full circle: we invoke spiritual guidance through daily prayer, as we make daily choices within a spiritual context. Christina’s narrative unfolds from her moist and forested northwest home where her daily spiritual practice takes her out onto her balcony to embrace nature. We too can wake to first light of day, go out and look at the day, say our daily prayer… then cohabit with spirit.
The Seven Whispers becomes a supreme tool to “decode the Divine in everyday interactions.” Christina advocates using the “power in spirit that can answer our prayers and change our lives.” As ordinary people living our ordinary lives, we can use prayer as a call and response, listening for answers. “If summoned, God might actually appear,” she reminds us. This book made its way into my hands during a period of personal challengs. Rereading it… and going deeper… it became a welcome helpful tool for weathering tough times. Published right after 09/11/01, it is still a vital guide on anyone’s spiritual journey. The book becomes a supreme tool, either reading start to finish or dipping into it for glimmers of guidance. Christine’s guidance is easily applied and will resonate with the entry-level spiritual sojourner and the seasoned sage. We can whisper “Okay. I’m here. I am here to love the world.”
Christina Baldwin has also authored One to One: Self-Understanding Through Journal Writing (1977), Calling the Circle: The First and Future Circle (1988), Life’s Companion – Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest (1990), Storycatcher, Making Sense of our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story (2007) and The Circle Way: A Leader in Every Chair (2010, co-authored with Ann Linnea).
About The Reviewer: A spiritual sojourner since the mid 1980s Cathleen Norman lives in her historic cottage in a forested Front Range village. She is an avid journaler. For sustenance, she works for a publishing company and for fun writes about Colorado history and Colorado bluegrass.