Monday, October 15, 2012

Wrapped Up: God's Ten Gifts for Women

Wrapped Up by Teresa Tomeo and Cheryl Dickow is a book for quiet reflection, focusing on ten aspects of the spiritual journey, including God's love and forgiveness, a joyful attitude, suffering and the sacraments. Each chapter is divided between the two authors, as Cheryl shares insights about the matriarchs of the Old Testament and Teresa provides data and anecdotes about the struggles faced by contemporary women. Both writers include snippets from their lives and how they have each found deeper peace in their vocations as Catholic women through becoming open to the gifts which God gives.

Teresa comments on the discouragement with which so many women must contend, and which can be an obstacle to having a healthy spiritual life.
In addition to the personal baggage we carry, the other signals constantly received or detected on the private sonar remind us that unless we can feed the family with  a fabulous 'yummo' Rachel Ray dinner in thirty minutes or less, raise perfectly polite and poised Harvard-bound children, look like Angelina Jolie, and earn at least a six-figure income, we might as well throw in the towel....(p.9)
Teresa cites several studies which show the steady decline of self-esteem in women and girls, especially in how they view their bodies. With all that is now available to women and all the "freedoms" we have, we are still miserable about how we look and how we live, more miserable than ever. It is a sad commentary about our modern world.

The answer, of course, is found only in acknowledging that we each have worth in the eyes of God and are part of His infinite plan. As Cheryl says in the chapter on the gift of suffering:
I am very conscious that, without my illness, I probably would not be in pursuit of knowing, loving and serving God — all in spite of my sins and shortcomings. It was how God called me to himself. Through my suffering, Christ allowed me to discover the richness of my Catholic heritage and develop a personal relationship with him. I persevere toward heaven with confidence, knowing that I am a loved sinner with a place in God's kingdom. (p.53)
Peace is to be found only in doing God's will, not in the vain and fleeting phantoms of worldly happiness, by which we are so often deceived. It appears that more than ever women are led astray by the siren songs of earthly achievement as being the purpose of living; it is only through a strong interior life that we can remain grounded in the realities that are everlasting.

I can see this book provoking lively discussions in a women's prayer group or book club as well as being useful on a private retreat. A Companion Journal is also available in order to hone one's growth experiences and record personal reflections.

(*NOTE: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.)


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