Maggie Ross's superb memoir of her sojourn in the wilderness is filled with living and dying, joy and pain, healing and hurting, and, most important, the ""love that indwells and is revealed in the most unexpected places."" Weary and wounded, yearning for deep solitude, Ross takes a job as a caretaker in a place of luminous--sometimes terrifying--beauty on the northwest coast of the United States. Here she meets a local woman called Muskrat who becomes her companion and teacher. From a harsh and unforgiving life, Muskrat has distilled impressive wisdom and an extraordinary, unselfconscious spirituality. Living out a generosity and loving-kindness born of suffering, she helps Ross find healing from damage inflicted by the abuse of power--damage that culminates in a life-threatening illness. Muskrat is not her only teacher. There are the dogs, Pomo and Kelly, and the bird, Raven, whose joyous play, tender and violent affection, mischief, and fidelity reveal a new vision of life during a long, slow convalescence. Ross receives healing, too, from the land, from the work necessary to its seasons, from the wildlife, which appears strangely unafraid, and from the small and large kindnesses of her rural neighbors. Like Henry David Thoreau and Annie Dillard, she describes landscapes of rare beauty that reveal the true meaning of sacrament ""in the smallest wood orchid and the vast wildness of the sea. . . . the last flimsy boundaries between sacred and secular melted away."" We emerge from this near-mythic tale--from its frustrations, its tragedies and epiphanies--illuminated, refreshed, with a new vital perception of the sanctity of our common humanity and of wilderness as a context for the transfiguration of pain. ""A surprising, charming, rewarding book. It refreshes the weary spirit."" -- Tony Hillerman, author of Coyote Waits ""Maggie Ross has nourished my spirit. . . . I could smell the moist earth after the first rains and feel the anxiety and fear when vicious winds lashed her cabin. She describes deep spiritual truths in a manner that rings true . . . this is a book beautifully crafted about dying, about living, about worship and adoration, about God, about us, about growth and about diminution, about stillness, and about nature--a story told beautifully, movingly, with Ross's customary searing honesty about herself and about ourselves. If you do not get to read it you will be sadly impoverished."" -- The Most Reverend Desmond M. Tutu, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa ""Ross's compelling story is an ode to the freshness of nature and to a religion conceived by the poor and powerless to escort them through life and death."" -- Jean Craighead George, author of Julie of the Wolves and My Side of the Mountain ""All we have learned to expect from Maggie Ross: transforming perceptions of things we thought familiar, a painful emotional openness, writing of subtlety and grace. This is as fresh and challenging as anything she has done."" -- Rowan Williams, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, University of Oxford Maggie Ross is an Anglican Solitary responsible to Bishop Rowan Williams. She is the author of The Fire of Your Life: A Solitude Shared; The Fountain and the Furnace: The Way of Tears and Fire; Pillars of Flame: Power, Priesthood, and Spiritual Maturity; Writing the Icon of the Heart: In Silence Beholding;and Silence: A User's Guide, vol. 1: Process. She blogs at ravenwilderness.blogspot.com.
Maggie Ross is a writer and translator well known for her insights into ancient spiritual texts and practices. A professed solitary under vows to the Archbishop of Canterbury, she is the author of The Fire of Your Life and Seasons of Death and Life. She lives in Oxford, England.