Each of us asks ourselves at one time or another: "Why am I here? Is there a deeper meaning to life? My life? How can I become more aware? Is there a Divine presence? How can I nurture the Divine within myself?" Awakening offers us a simple and beautiful, yet direct and profound, method to awaken, or uncover, the inner recesses of our hearts and minds. Then, these questions, and perhaps a response or two, might be explored.
In the introduction Delia Tolz shares her own spiritual journeys, thoughts, and meditations. Images that she evokes inwardly help her to go deep into her heart and soul, where she discovers guidance and her true intention during that moment and the many moments of her day. As an artist, her inner experiences are "translated into colored pencil drawings. They are the tangible expression of my inner journey and a way to share it with others."
Each of 30 illustrations is accompanied by a title and a "verse, prayer, poem, or inner dialogue that came to me as I was drawing." This is followed by a simple exercise and two short questions to help the reader go more deeply into his/her own search for meaning. The written words which complement each drawing demonstrate that a few words can embrace depth and focus meaning. The colorful, evocative images touch us in a space unreachable with the spoken language.
The artist includes a section entitled "Working with the Drawings" to help the reader develop an approach to using this book as an aid to awakening. She offers several suggestions, so each can discover his/her own method-what works for one's personal meditations or reflections. We each have gifts, often hidden, for us to awaken and nurture. Delia Tolz offers us the possibility to actually uncover what lies within us by sharing her very unique and special gifts with us, and for this we are deeply grateful.
I would like to share the way I worked with one of the images, Dance of Life (pp. 40-41).
The inspirational reflection is simple: I dance in unison with my companions. The exercise gives us a clue how to carry out this "dance:" When I notice that I interact with a companion through the patterns of a role, I pause and shift to my true inner self. "Well," I thought, "how do I know what my true inner self is? How can I identify it and bring it forth?" The first question gave me just the clue I needed: Who is beneath each role?
Dance of Life
For several weeks, I had been disagreeing with my spouse over a particular issue, and for the life of me I could not understand his point of view. I was clearly wedded to my own opinion. When I focused on the exercise and question, I realized I had fallen into my usual "role" of spouse, which completely limited my perspective. I thought: "OK, I may not understand my spouse's point of view but I can at least try to listen to him explain it without judging him." Boy, was I surprised! He had put a lot of thought about our marriage and future into his viewpoint, and on this we found common ground. I then shared my objections, and he understood. Together we resolved our disagreement and were able to move forward. So, I actually was able, through experience, to answer the second question: Regardless of my role, do I connect with others? Yes! A big, resounding YES!
I recommend without any reservation this book to anyone and everyone. Each of us will interact with the pictures and words in whichever way, on whatever level, we choose and are comfortable with. At the very least we enjoy a few moments with new ideas and images. For most, a whole new way of viewing one's world-everyone's world-will open for exploration, reflection, and interaction.
Feedback from other readers:
Mary Hoeppner: "The pictures are particularly helpful for stimulating an open mental and inner attitude."
Roberta Sweat: "I think this book is terrific. The line drawings are so beautiful and the accompanying text is wonderful. It is a good book for meditation."
Jack King: "What a wonderful trip. The art is so special. As I did some of the exercises the colors of the pictures captured me. The depth of the exercises expanded into a practice that allowed me to meet the Divine. I am going to give copies to my family because I feel it will be something they can resonate with. I cannot say enough about how the book took me to places I have never been. Glorious, beautiful, I cannot put into words the effect of the book."
Pauline Herbert: "Awakening brings me a 'user-friendly,' simple guide to traveling deeply into my soul. The questions penetrate surface personality patterns and seem to take me right to the core of my essence. Also, Delia's pictures have such a beautiful abstract and open quality which appeals to my imagination. I keep her book close by my meditation space at home."