The book is divided into four sections, each focusing on one of the four words above, or what Beck terms, “the technologies of magic.” She calls these words “technologies of magic” (which are not all that unlike the apparent “magical” technologies of an iPhone!), because of the seemingly “magical” way trackers can find a leopard simply through close observation of minute bends in waist-high grass, or how the wayfinders of Polynesia can find an island hundreds of miles away on a cloudy day with no modern navigational equipment by merely studying the ocean waves hitting their boat. Of course, accessing these technologies requires many hours of deep practice—hardly “magic,” but she believes these “magical” skills are what are desperately needed to navigate the rapidly changing landscape of the modern world. By the end of the book she profoundly convinces us that significant rest and sacred play are the only deep practice methods by which humanity and the earth will be restored.
To be sure, this is primarily life-coaching material, overflowing with outstanding self-help instruction. However, at its most mystical, there is little difference between Beck’s style of life coaching and say, spiritual direction. Seekers and others who are of a more inter-faith or inter-spirituality bent will be delighted with the numerous contemplative exercises, meditation tips, guided visualizations, and quotes from mystics of all traditions sprinkled throughout the book. So, too, will those who enjoy reading about brain research and other scientific studies that point to the interconnectedness of the universe, as Beck, a Harvard-educated social scientist, adeptly bridges the gaps between science and spirituality.
Beck’s famed wit often had me laughing out loud, while other stories (primarily involving her adult Down Syndrome son, Adam—whom she calls her little Zen Master) moved me to tears. A long-time fan of Martha Beck’s writing, this is my favorite book of hers to date, with the exception of her best-selling autobiography, Expecting Adam, which detailed the difficult pregnancy she had with Adam that first broke her open to the reality of miracles in everyday life. If you are looking for a good read that will help you heal as you seek to help the Divine heal others, I can make no stronger recommendation than this tour de force, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World.