From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

New book encourages experience of God through the senses

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the March 20, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

Kathy Finley says her newest book, Savoring God, Praying With All Our Senses, “was pure grace, a gift from the Holy Spirit.” The idea came to her “full blown” during Mass on Pentecost Sunday two years ago.

“I was on retreat in Oregon, trying to pay attention at Mass,” she said. “The idea for the book kept coming to my mind and as soon as Mass was over, I went to my room and wrote it down. I still have the paper.” She couldn’t help but smile as she recalled the book’s graced beginnings.

Finley took time off from her part-time teaching job to put the book into shape, but writing it was the easy part. “I had great fun. Writing it was a blast,” she said. The book’s style made writing easy, since Finley could write a chapter or two and wouldn’t lose continuity when she laid it aside.

The book is Finley’s fourth. Savoring God is a prayer book, but not one with traditional prayer styles.

Finley is aware that her book will not appeal to everyone. “People who wouldn’t do prayer books might use this one,” she said.

Savoring God uses ordinary everyday items such as soil, measuring cups and spoons, rocks and keys, and even – one of her favorites – facial tissue as a focus for prayer. The 29 chapters guide readers in reflecting on commonplace things, the objects’ place in God’s kingdom, and then using such things for prayer.

“What I hoped to accomplish,” she said, “was this book being used as a starting point, an ‘on-ramp,’ so to speak, to help people gain an ability to look at everything around them to know God.”

Finley held up a gift card on which she had written, “To you with love from God,” to show how she views the world. Through the incarnation, she said, “everything is imbued with God’s presence. And we need to learn to see, hear, listen, and feel.”

The book is divided into three sections, devoted to nature, personal objects, and everyday objects. Each chapter begins with the item (such as soil) and a candle. There is an opening prayer, followed by a reflection on the item. Finley asks the reader to consider all aspects of the item – its texture, feel and smell. There are Scripture references on the item for further reflection and then a closing prayer. The reflections are easily adapted for young children.

Finley is noted for her work with marriage and families. Her first book was a book of prayers for children. Another was titled A Family’s Book of Days, which helps families find something special to celebrate or remember each day, for their own families as well as the larger Christian family and the global human family.

Even though Finley is more a teacher than writer — “writing extends my teaching,” she says — she won’t be an idle writer for long. She said the sequel to Savoring God is “ready to be written.” She also has several ideas for books and other projects. “I seem to be in this wonderful place where the ideas are coming like crazy.”

One topic she has wanted to write about for years is the theme used for the recently concluded Novena of Grace at St. Aloysius Parish. The novena was called ‘Re-Membering Our Faith,’ “about how we are members of one another.” Finley was one of the novena’s two speakers.

Finley teaches a class on the Christian spirituality of marriage at Gonzaga University, about relationship skills and the theology of marriage as a sacrament. She and her husband, Mitch, have three sons.

On the cover of Savoring God is a photo of a little girl in shorts and tank top, hands in her pockets, eyes closed and her mouth in an appreciative smile. She appears to be savoring something, perhaps a smell or a breeze or perhaps the sun which seems to be shining brightly on her body. Finley said she wasn’t sure at first that she liked it, but as she pondered the cover, she realized the young girl depicted exactly what her book is about: Savoring God, Praying With All Our Senses.

Finley will read from her book at Auntie’s Book Store, corner of Washington and Main in Spokane on Tuesday, April 1, and again at Kaufer’s, 907 W. Boone in Spokane on Tuesday, April 29.

(Savoring God is published in softcover at $12.95 by Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Ind.)

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