Listening

Any good counsellor knows that the greatest contribution they can make to a person who comes to them in extremis, is not to offer any kind of ‘solution’, but rather to enable the person to tell their story in all its complexity. ‘Let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication,’ cries the Psalmist.

In my book Older I give an example of perfect listening. When I was being prepared for ordination at Glasshampton Monastery in Worcester, Brother Gregory told me how he had received a letter from the headmaster of a major public school asking if he would see a sixteen-year-old boy who was heavily into drugs. Brother Gregory saw the boy. Some weeks later he received a letter from the headmaster: ‘I don’t know what you said but he is completely changed.’

Brother Gregory smiled as he told me this and added, ‘I didn’t say a word! I simply listened.’ Clearly the quality of his listening acted as a mirror in which the boy could see himself. The lesson is that the more we practise silence in our meditation, the better able we shall be to respond to others by giving them our complete attention.

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Older: Beautiful “Thought Diary”, an Ode to Growing Older

Today marks the publication of James’s latest book, Older.

He writes:

Book cover of 'Older' by James Roose-Evans

“The moment I became 90 it seemed especially important to record the year of my entry into the tenth decade. What excites me is that the journey continues right up to the very last moment, for, as T S Eliot wrote, ‘Old men should be explorers still.’  It is a stage of life during which much is shed, and much unlearned so that new insights can be explored. It is a time when a whole mosaic of memories reveals the blueprint of the person we were meant to be and have become. It is also a time of harvest, knowing that when our time comes to depart, it is with the realisation that we are finally coming into harbour after a long voyage.”

In his ninety-first year, James Roose-Evans decided to do something wholly unconventional; compile a raw and honest diary with the intention of releasing it to the world.

Older: A Thought Diary is one of the few books on the market to encapsulate old age in such a frank manner, along with the challenges and gifts age brings, to help readers redefine how they view and approach the ageing process.

Synopsis:

This touching diary reveals a year in the life of James Roose-Evans – the author. Older is a vivid and illuminating portrait of growing old.

This ‘thought diary’ was written through James Roose-Evans’s ninety-first year. The result is a cornucopia of delights that touches on everything from the profound to the minutiae of daily life.

Throughout Roose-Evans writes with wit, sensitivity and an eye for detail – and his reflections will teach us much about how we should approach the process of ageing.

The author comments “Sometimes people say to me ‘Oh I’m old’ and always I reply, ‘No, you are older’, which is a very different thing. The word ‘old’ with its final D is like a door slamming, whereas older suggest the possibility of further growth.

Tom Perrin, publisher of Zuleika Books writes:

Older is a moving, touching and important book, and makes vital points about old age and living.’

Older: A Thought Diary is available from 2 October 2019: https://amzn.to/2RRosUJ

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Inner Journey, Outer Journey

First published in th 1980s, Inner Journey, Outer Journey sold out in both hardback and paperback. Now, as part of a new classics series, Redemptorist Books are publishing a brand new edition of James’ book.

The perfect companion for all those who feel drawn to contemplative prayer and meditation, but who need help and guidance going about it.

In the first of three sections, James Roose-Evans explores his own personal journey, sharing the fascinating details of his life as a leading theatre director, and drawing parallels between Christian ritual and the role of ritual in the theatre. He goes on to explain the practical aspects of meditation – such as the significance of posture and breathing, the use of the mantra, and the importance of regular practice. Finally, he provides a monthly guide, taking the reader day-by-day through suggested meditations and reflections which encourage the practice of silent, wordless prayer.

Combining practical help with imaginative insights, Inner Journey, Outer Journey will provide guidance and inspiration for all those seeking a still centre amidst the pressures of work and daily life.

“A very precious and very practical book – it deserves to be loved and revisited often.”

Rowan Williams

You can purchase Inner Journey Outer Journey from the Redemptorist Books website.

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