Charles W. Sidoti, Simple Contemplative Spirituality. Amor Deus Publishing, 2016, 98 pages.
By Martin Folan
“Spirituality,” writes Christina Puchalski, director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, “is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature.”
Charles W. Sidoti’s second book, Simple Contemplative Spirituality, presents a treasure chest of golden spiritual nuggets, as you mine through 22 stories of how to view all of life as spiritual.
Sidoti, a member of the NACC, walks through his stories in the sandals of Jesus, and offers truer and richer glimpses of life. His stories invite you to discover a new awareness of God’s presence in museums, through neurologist Sigmund Freud, the Wizard of Oz, the wisdom of Confucius, and the popular 1960s game show Let’s Make a Deal, where contestants could risk their cash in hand for what remained hidden behind doors 1, 2, or 3. Risk could yield grand prizes or a gag prize.
“The need to let go of something, risking what we already have for the possibility of obtaining something better, often gets played out in our real lives,” he said. “It happens when we agonize over important choices. We may need to decide whether to leave our current job to take another that we have been offered.
“The struggle we often face in making important life choices is that we must let go of something, trade it away in the hope of trading up, with the ever present fear of getting ‘Zonked.’”
While what’s past is past and cannot be changed, Simple Contemplative Spirituality offers new frameworks in which to place past experiences — ordinary, simple and practical — so that past wounds may be healed, new avenues to joy may be traveled, and deeper meaning may be discovered.
In Chapter 20, God’s Presence in the Here and Now, Sidoti writes this about the meaning of life, “[I]t will always fail us. We will never think our way to inner peace.”
Who we are and who God is “will require a fundamental shift in the way we approach life. Until this happens, the struggle to discern what our responsibility is and what is God’s responsibility, a kind of role confusion, can wreak havoc upon our inner lives.” To prevent such havoc, he tosses us a life preserver of eloquence and wisdom of playwrights, philosophers and songwriters, and leads us down new pathways to discover joy, inner healing, love, and our true selves.
At the end of each story, you will find the “Contemplative Connection,” a soul tool to integrate into your own life the meaning of stories; they include prayers, reflections, questions, and quotes by saints.
Sidoti’s prose wraps your heart in a warm blanket of comfort story after story. Unwrapping the blanket at the end, you will find yourself basking in a warm, golden glow of deeper meaning.
Martin Folan, BCC, is director of mission and spirituality at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago.