My Soul Waits: Book Review

Browsing the bookstore of Chartres Cathedral recently, a book stood out to me for its elegantly simple cover and its smooth pages. I found myself completely unsurprised to notice the publisher: Mount Tabor Books, an imprint of Paraclete Press (Paraclete published my first three books), representing Paraclete’s standard of beautiful and compelling books.

That stunning refinement of Paraclete’s books continues with My Soul Waits: Praying with the Psalms through Advent, Christmas & Epiphany by Martin Shannon, CJ, a new release that is perfect to being this Advent. (If you’re worried about getting it before the season begins on Sunday, consider a quick purchase of the Kindle version — although truly, I always recommend hard copies for books. Something about the tactical interaction with text.) In whatever format, My Soul Waits is a simple but beautiful and measured reflection on daily psalms: helping us meditate on the purpose of each psalm, lifting up wisdom from ancient Church Fathers, and offering honest prayers for 21st century faith.

It’s Shannon’s original prayers especially that resonate with my spirit. The prayers long for Home; they confess Hope; they celebrate What Has Been Done; they meditate on What Will Be. With each prayer, my heart wants to dance, to shout, to weep, to whisper, and Shannon ties them beautifully & subtly to the daily psalm readings. Each day’s meditation indicates that a reader should begin with the psalm; personally, I find myself not only beginning with the psalm but repeating it again at the end of the meditation in order to trace the threads between Scripture, the excerpts of Church Fathers, and Shannon’s prayers.

A note: I am increasingly in a faith space in which male-gendered & master/lord language for God is dissonant to my spirit, so that language stands out to me in My Soul Waits … although ultimately it doesn’t interfere with the book’s overall impact of walking gently & pastorally with the reader in this holy season of waiting. Listening deeply for the soul’s essential stories that reverberate across the centuries, Martin Shannon accompanies us through the longing of Advent to the revelation of Epiphany.

My Soul Waits is a balm to the restless spirit — speaking myself as one who is impatient with waiting. It is a patient companion through six weeks of triumph and trembling, turmoil and tenderness. Reading Shannon, my heart believes again that it can wait with hope for Christ’s fulfillment. With every amen, I am renewed.