Four legs are better than two

A review of ‘the secret life of God’ by Alex Klaushofer

If you are going to travel into uncharted territory, it is best not to do it alone. I am a Christian. At the age of 16 I made a conscious and rational decision to live my life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am still working out what that means, and I often find new depths in unexpected places – like turning up some forgotten trinket in the back of a drawer which needs to be emptied.

To open Alex’s book is to embark on a spiritual quest. Your guide is a warm and honest human being. Like the best tour guides, she will tell you about where you are headed and then point out the best features along the way. You will get to know each other – you two travellers, and appreciate the journey quite as much as any destination.

For me, the journey started in familiar territory – namely British non-conformity. I recognised the values and ethos straight away. Having said that, the critique which Alex offered is amongst the most insightful I have ever read. Note her question as to whether ‘non-conformity had lost much of the muscle that comes from swimming against the tide’  . I am reminded of Robbie Burn’s injunction  ‘to see oursels as ithers see us’.

After that we were off to the slightly stranger shores of monasticism and pilgrimage (less strange since writing #journey) before diverting into the surprisingly warm and welcoming world of a modern hermit. After that, I really needed my spiritual passport as we were off to places I have never visited – such as druidism and Islamic Sufism. I walked a little closer to my guide at that point and she did not let me down. She continued as a warm, questioning and very human guide.

I won’t tell you where the journey ended up as you will have to find out for yourselves. When I commented to Alex that it was odd to enjoy both journey and company so much whilst arriving at a different destination, she seemed pleased and commented that ‘spiritual destinies are shaped by place and personal experience.’

I read most of this book whilst on holiday in the Autumnal splendour of  the Forest of Dean – a place with which Alex is familiar. On my last day I visited Kevin Atherton’s spectacular sculpture ‘cathedral’. Hanging high in the branches it catches the light just so, and draws attention at once to the subject matter of the window, the skill of the artist, the light which brings it alive and the trees which give it context. Like Alex’s book – it shed light and diffracted expectations. I suggest you try both.

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