Voices in Christian Formation: Esther de Waal

BY Doug Jones

October 4, 2012

Book in field


Voices in Christian Formation is a series of posts to help introduce some of the contemporary authors and speakers we can learn from as it pertains to our Christian formation. The posts focus on critical components of our Christian formation and provide a short bibliography to investigate each topic further.

Esther de Waal is an Anglican laywoman living on the border of Wales and England.  Author of more than ten books and contributor to others, Esther has focused on Benedictine, Celtic, and monastic spirituality. Her writing is personal, historically informative, and focuses on moving readers toward living out their faith in order to deepen their spirituality.

Three of Esther’s lesser-known titles impacted me deeply. These three short works seemed to be retreats in a book format. About them, De Waal writes:

To take time to be apart…is not a luxury, it is essential. The gift of space for myself seems so simple, and in a way it is; but it is also surprisingly difficult to do without some form of external encouragement. And that is the very simple purpose of this book (Lost in Wonder, p. 1).

In Lost in Wonder, we have the privilege of Esther guiding us to rediscover the spiritual art of attentiveness. With exercises, prayers, meditations and insightful writing, we are guided into this practice of developing awareness of our surroundings, God’s activity, and our place within it.

In her little book Seeking Life, de Waal unpacks the sacrament of Baptism. This retreat-like experience plunges us into this act that shapes our identities and daily lives and makes us truly alive. The book is rich with historical prayers, exercises, and insights that help us live as people reborn of water and the Spirit.

The third book is To Pause at the Threshold. Here, de Waal focuses on the power that thresholds, transitions, and liminal space can have in our lives. This short book is a challenging meditation for any of us who are in the middle of change and struggling with living on the border of what was and what is to come.

Esther de Waal’s Must Reads:

Photo: Βethan


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