On the bookshelf: “Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me”

I fully expected to like the new book Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings by Beth A. Richardson, because I already admire Beth’s writing, blogginginstagramming, and editing.

christ-beside-meWhat surprised me is the tangible impact of this slight, beautifully printed book on my spirit: slowing my breath, deepening my delight, increasing my attentiveness. Beth’s book is not just another collection of prayers; it’s an invitation to recognize and be blessed by the pervasive presence of the Holy within all of life.

The blessings of Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me are pastoral, wonder-full, tender, and encouraging. They are written for varied life occasions — for mornings and evenings, for seasons of change and seasons of struggle — and intended to be picked up, poured over, held onto, shared, savored, even memorized when our spirits need a blessing to ground our living. Even more: these blessings are written in such a way that readers will find themselves inspired to craft their own blessings for everyday moments and special occasions.

Beth’s original prayers and blessings are set alongside stories of her grandfather and of ancestors who carved out love & life across continents, through wars and the Great Depression, with trust in God’s grace. The stories provide the poignant reminder that blessing — from God, from one another, from the earth — is personal; it’s everyday and hard-working, it’s whole and it’s gracious.

Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me is not a book for your bookshelves. It’s a book for your bedside table to encourage morning and evening gratitude. It’s a book to keep next to your favorite coffee mug for those moments when you sit in quiet struggle with life. It’s a book to use with your journal as you write your own blessings. It’s a book to inspire your camera (or camera phone) to capture the beauty of everyday grace. It’s a book to bless your daily living.

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