Earth Books, 2017, 242 pp
Reviewed by Stephen Wollaston (aka Santoshan)
Writer, academic and seasoned sailor Peter Reason writes beautifully in his latest book, In Search of Grace. Peter skilfully supplies readers with two vivid accounts of sailing pilgrimages he recently undertook in his small yacht, Coral, from the southern coast of England to Ireland, and to the far north of Scotland. For most of the time, Peter navigated, explored, and sailed alone, but was accompanied by friends and students for parts of the two journeys.
Peter wonderfully manages to share plenty of detail about things needed to prepare for such journeys, times of hardship and skilful actions taken when faced with Nature’s unpredictable forces, days of calm seas, personal reflections, and profound experiences of awe when encountering the rich and wild beauty of the natural world.
Yet Peter’s book is not simply a day-to-day account of things that happened or had to be done in order for him to reach various historical sacred places of interest. The richness of the book lies in Peter’s skill of including additional material, writers, and sharing thoughts and knowledge he has about Nature, and our interactions and relationships with her. Most chapters start with a well-chosen quotation by various writers such as the Venerable Bede, Satish Kumar, William Dalrymple and Gary Snyder, and various sections include key ideas and teachings from numerous sources, traditions and other people such as Thomas Berry and Buddhism.
Having said this, if this gives the impression that the book is peppered with quotations padding it out, it would be a wrong one. Most of the pages consist of Peter’s ability to present a masterful and unique synthesis of storytelling, scientific knowledge, historical and ecological background, and spiritual wisdom. Overall, In Search of Grace makes for an inspiring read. It’s true worth, I feel, lies in the many reflections Peter shares about Nature’s wonders such as the following:“What is it about such moments when one experiences being part of a greater whole? The feeling is almost imperceptible, but I am sure it is there. One reaches for a leaf on a tree and suddenly knows that the carbon the tree draws from the atmosphere through photosynthesis is the stuff that forms one’s body; one catches a blackbird in the eye and sees not just an ocular phenomena but the presence of another living being; one learns of the tragic death of someone the other side of the planet and experiences for a moment a grief as if they were kin… I see all these as moments of grace when, to some extent, the boundaries of the separate self become permeable and touches the whole.”
Obviously, highly recommended reading for anyone interested in ecological/green spirituality.