Cry of Wonder by Gerard Hughes
This is the final book by Gerard Hughes, as sadly he died soon after its publication. His previous books include the popular God of Surprises, God in all Things and In Search of a Way. Cry of Wonder is a work of maturity, as Hughes reflects on 70 years of life as a Jesuit.
Part autobiography, the author relates episodes from his long career. This included three years’ theological training in Germany eleven years after the Second World War, a number of years spent a Chaplain at Glasgow University and superior at the St Beuno’s community in North Wales. Hughes looks back over his life, and in particular at recurring memories, and finds meaning which he did not always see at the time. He encourages the reader to do the same with our memories, and there are exercises at the end of each chapter to aid this process.
The book is one of big themes – ‘Unity’, ‘Peace’ and ‘Holiness’- each theme forming one of the three parts of the book. As he says in the introduction, “I write for anyone who is interested in the ‘why’ questions of human life”, and Hughes is keen that the reader keep a critical faculty.
‘Unity’ starts as ecumenism, and develops into the idea of the inter-relatedness of all, which has consequences for how we life our lives, and how we care for the earth. ‘Peace’ makes us confront our reactions to, for example, nuclear weapons. How do we square the Sermon on the Mount with war? Is there such a thing as a just war?
‘Holiness’ introduces us to some of the teachings of Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, and some of the famous exercises. Hughes had been leading retreats using the exercises for 60 years so is the ideal person to expound them for the reader.
Throughout the book runs the theme of wonder, found through stillness, through contemplative prayer or through walking. “If we can be still and listen to our hearts, we shall discover that we are not alone” he says.
So, there is much in this book to ponder. Big themes for a New Year, and a book to return to throughout the year.
Reviewed by Jenny Monds, Sarum College
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