This issue of the Chrysalis Reader explores the interplay of confrontation and inspiration. Art, poetry, and prose convey renewed realities made possible through enlightened knowing, lucky encounters, and right action. Guided to a better place for play, low-income children experience new direction and hope. The chemistry of renewal and healing manifests itself when a tennis player overcomes psychological and physical disabilities. A free spirit is challenged and transformed by a beautiful stranger. Despite the harshness of war, the unstoppable force of nature greens up a battlefield and embraces a blasted generation. In the end, we are reminded of the dynamic truth that nothing vanishes, nothing is wasted, that divine love and wisdom are never-ending.
“Your Turn! is a most remarkable collection of experiences, feelings, insights of a diverse group of persons that miraculously cuts into our individual psyches….stirring our awareness, memories, intentions, and hopes.”
—Chris Kallstrom, Alternative Learning Environments, Inc.
“This is a book of the spirit. It is a fine collection of very short, eminently readable ‘experience’ stories, essays and accounts of life happenings and fictional creations. Like any literary miscellany there are some pieces that thrill more than others. In this collection though, there are many that lead to that sensation. Reading at random I was surprised by the cameos of life that spoke directly in a spiritual way; touching the heart along the way. While some contributions are not necessarily spectacular, by far the majority is memorable and inspiring. Perhaps the personal chords struck helped in the enjoyment of this book, but within its covers I found inspiration in fields where I am especially familiar — healing, prison ministry, the natural world, creation, spirituality, theology. For example, several held reflections of the prison ministry with which I have long been involved, while others spoke of creation and aspects of life that brought personal memories and inspirations cascading into my mind.
The skill of assembling words into meaningful presentation is conspicuous throughout and reflects the care taken in the selection. The reader is able to run through the book and read stories randomly; to pick and choose brief one- or two-page contributions or a lengthier eleven-page piece as reading time allows. This is a book to take off the bookshelf and read in spare moments, though be warned — it might not be too easy to put down again.
It is something of a pity that colour was not used in the production of ‘Your Turn’. The black and white illustrations are sometimes a little heavy and do not lighten the text as even a sparing use of colour through the book might have done, but this is a minor criticism in an otherwise well-presented work.
Your Turn! is a collection of over fifty ‘stories of renewal’ involving nearly as many authors, 180 pages in all, divided into four distinct parts headedSecond Chances, Regeneration, Healing, and Life’s Path. The Preface entitled ‘The Creation Story’ is described as ‘a drama of the creation week’… by a scholar who is devoting many years of her life to a prodigious task: Lisa (Hyatt Cooper) is translating some forty-five hundred pages of a verse-by-verse interpretation of the first two books of the Bible. The study was originally published in the years 1749 to 1756 in Latin as ‘Arcana Coelestia’ or ‘Secrets of Heaven’ by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)… part of a larger project in the shape of the first new translation in a hundred years of alleighteen theological works of Swedenborg saw through the press in his lifetime.
In the ‘Editor’s Note’ Robert F. Lawson’s final paragraph includes the following significant words: Your Turn! Stories of Renewal reminds us that nothing is wasted, that divine love and wisdom are never ending. This reminder is certainly very much manifested in a variety of ways throughout the pages of this book. The content has been well chosen and the editors are to be congratulated for that. Some, such as ‘Rooster’ — a story of a man and his dog finding a special day and the beginning of a new and fulfilling journey —are debut pieces while others are by well-published authors.
Stories of renewal emerge from the pages in a variety of presentations to jog the spirit, from the weird fictional story of ‘Resurrection Bingo‘ to the unique personal travel essay and pilgrimage account of a visit to the holy island of Iona; from the childhood experience recounted in ‘Experiential Encounter’ to a connection between William Blake, homelessness and an emergence from a living death to life in the story aptly titled ‘Jerusalem‘, and the simple but life-changing encounter in ‘Ribbons of Lavender’. There are encounters to be found with places, people, animals, nature and, not least, oneself.
Many narratives have a ‘natural world’ connection or setting and some are obscure, leaving the reader to draw a conclusion. Most stimulate a thought process and many make one wish there was a ‘further reading’ section. In a sense there is some guidance in the brief biographies of the contributors, many of which, I am sure, will lead readers down an unexplored path or enhance a journey on which they are already embarked.
The editors well deserve an accolade for their perception in bringing together a worthwhile genesis as a rich, varied and inspirational collection. I am certain that whoever opens this book will find a good deal to stimulate rewarding thought, many stories and poems to enjoy, and much that will bring at least some spark of inspiration to kindle the fire of their lives.”
—Reviewed by Gerald Bishop, Outlook, No. 62, 2009