The embrace of the Name: A new devotional book from Sr. Joyce Rupp

By Joyce Rupp
Published by Sorin Books, $22.95

Sr. Joyce Rupp is well known for her work as a writer, spiritual director, international retreat leader, and conference speaker. A member of the Servite (Servants of Mary) community and co-director of the Institute of Compassionate Presence, she is author of many books including Open the Door and May I Have This Dance? She recently completed a year as our Spiritual Reflections guide on this Web site.

Her latest book is a compendium of meditations for every day of the year. It’s a collection for expanding our awareness of who God is. Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than it does about the divine. The names we use are personal projections from our own humanness and our perceptions about life.

Joyce Rupp reflects on these names we call God. She says she heard a sister in her community begin an opening prayer with “God of the Morning…” “I recall feeling slightly amazed. I never would have thought to use this name. On that day I woke up to the adventure of expanding how I view and address the divine.”

She looked within her own Catholic spiritual tradition. She looked to divine images from other religions. “I learned to not be afraid that the names used by other religions might take away from my own relationship and understanding of who the divine is.”

The biggest challenge for her, she says, in naming the divine was incorporating a feminine dimension. Her selections draw from the Psalms, Sufi saints, Hindu poets, Native American reflections, contemporary writers and the Christian Gospels. Each selection ends with a simple summary statement that could be used as a meditation phrase.

Some samples:

-- This one is from singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen:
“My soul finds its place in the Name, and my soul finds it ease in the embrace of the Name. I struggled with shapes and with numbers, and I carved with blade and brain to make a place, but I could not find a shelter for my soul. Blessed is the Name which is the safety of the soul … and the health of the innermost breath. I search the words that attend your mercy. You lift me out of destruction, and you win my soul. You gather it out of the unreal by the power of your name. Blessed is the name that unifies demand, and changes the seeking into praise. Out of the panic, out of the useless plan, I awaken to your name, and solitude to solitude all your creatures speak, and through the inaccessible intention of all things fall gracefully. Blessed is the shelter of my soul, blessed is the form of mercy, blessed is the name."

-- Here's one from the Celtic spiritual tradition:
"Song of the land, Paean of the sun,
Music of the sea, Dance of the air,
You gift us in swift passages of time
With memorandums of your love:
Your fruitful breath in summer,
Your graced stillness in winter,
Your hopeful resonance in springtime,
Your mellow contentment in autumn.
When we pause in conscious awareness
Each carries messages to our spirit.

Today: I listen to the Lady of the Seasons."

-- And finally one from Alla Renee Bozarth:
"Spinning Woman God
You sit, spinning at the loom of life,
Your deep-creased, contented smile
Blessing each creative moment
As you fashion the fabric of existence.
You stretch out long rainbow threads
Throughout varied layers of the universe.
Fibers of clouds, skies, and sailing planets
Black holes and strands of silvery starlight,
All come alive at your ancient touch
As you spin the royal pattern of your love.

Today: I spin a pattern of love into each day."

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to similarly expand their imagination about God. Its scope is wide and its spirituality deep.