Shelter for the Spirit:
How to Make Your Home a Haven in a Hectic World
By Victoria Moran
Harper Collins, 1997
Reviewed by Jeanne Riley Darmet
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 15 No. 4, July - August 1998, p. 120
Victoria Moran brings the home to life in Shelter for the Spirit. A cross between a "how-to" book and a spiritual guide, Shelter for the Spirit is an ode to the central role the home has to play in a truly nurturing community. The author inspires us to discover the peace, beauty, and strength of our inner selves in our most intimate of places-our own homes.
Until the nineteenth century, most people lived, worked, loved, were born, and died at home. Industrialization brought people out of their homes, separating work and family and diminishing families to their current "nuclear" and "post nuclear" size. Moran proposes we go back home. Without imposing any hard and fast rules about how to do this, the author offers suggestions and shares her own experiences. The creativity of each individual is necessary to bring out the "magical quality of home." We can find this by trusting our own instincts, by placing priority on people over things, and by accepting ourselves and others as they are right now.
Moran offers practical hints and personal anecdotes for simplifying, organizing, prioritizing, and balancing self and others-making it all seem possible. One chapter covers cooking, offering a historical perspective on the role of food in civilization. Cleaning is considered a spiritual art, no white glove needed. Sitting is yet another spiritual act. The chapter on comforts talks about the simple joys of tea, baths, correspondence, and creativity.
Appendixes on home birth, home schooling, home business, and dying at home give ideas and lists of helpful books and resources for each topic.
The underlying theme of Shelter for the Spirit is to slow down and savor the moment-a valuable message in a world where time is a priceless commodity. "We savor life by expecting nothing and experiencing everything. When we go at high speed, we miss it," writes Moran.
I had a hard time finishing this book because every time I picked it up, a passage inspired me to go and improve something in my home. The things I did were not always the same things Moran discusses (I have three more children than she does!), but that is just the point. Everyone finds their own way to care for themselves, others and their homes.
Shelter for the Spirit gives homage to the home as a place to live, birth, die, feast, reflect, work, gather, meditate, study and play. It is truly an inspiration for parents who are searching for ways to connect all aspects of their lives.