In Search of Grace: A Review
In a recent blog post I said I wouldn't review books anymore, that I didn't feel qualified to write a good review. But I've changed my mind, again. Whether my reviews are good or not is one thing, but I'm as qualified as the next person to offer my opinion as a reader. So that is what I shall do.
(Just to be clear - and I say this only because the situation has come up in the past, not because I have delusions of grandeur - please don't ask me to review your book. I prefer to review at my own whim).
In Search of Grace came at exactly the right moment in my life. Peter Reason addresses questions that I have been struggling with myself: “what does it take to deeply experience the damage to ecosystems as damage to ourselves?” How do we establish and celebrate “a primal, heartfelt connection with the Earth itself”? And how can I, as a writer, contribute to the creation of a new story for humankind in relation to the “more-than-human world of which we are a part”?
There are two interweaving threads to this tale. One in which Reason describes his ecological pilgrimage on his small yacht Coral, travelling the ‘western edge’ – “the western extremes of the British Archipelago, but also the ‘edge’ of the western mindset.” The second involves musings on the insights he gains as a result of his sailing adventures, linking these to previous formative and spiritual experiences in his life.
Reason writes with humility, honesty, and humour on such subjects as sacredness and silence and fragility, the ‘grand gestures’ of the planet (think ocean tides and currents), the difference between a tourist and a pilgrim (when you’re a pilgrim, no one knows where you are), and how ‘civilization’ removes us from the natural world. Having sailed quite a bit myself (as a passenger on my father’s yacht), I could perfectly empathise with many of his experiences and thoughts, his ‘moments of grace and disgrace.’
In Search of Grace is a contemplative, generous, and strangely reassuring read. It is Reason’s offering towards a new order of things. I am grateful for it.