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Soul Awakenings

Author: Michelle Quigley
Genre: Spirituality
Reviewed by Patricia Ferguson, PsyD

566The author of Soul Awakenings interviewed a hundred women, mostly from Chicago and Colorado, but including a total of eleven states and Washington, DC. After hearing the author talking to her friends about the content of her book, most of the women interviewed asked to be interviewed. The only reason I mention this is to point out that this is not a random selection or in any way a "research" book as researchers would typically define it. Most research, for instance, would include women who did not ask to be interviewed but agreed to it anyway. Therefore, one can reasonably expect that this book would include women who are in agreement with the author regarding the topic of the book, or the general and specific answers to the interview questions. This does not mean that it is not an important book, or not a valid book, but simply that there may be many other women who would not feel the same way. In fact, there are several times when the author comments that "all one hundred women…" essentially said the same thing.

With this understood, Quigley hypothesized that all women are connected "spiritually." As she states at the beginning of the book, when she "embarked on her own spiritual journey," she decided to combine this journey with her work with women. She has been working as a nurse with women (and I assume men, too) for many years. But she says her interest has always been in women, so it would be natural for her to combine the two interests for a book.

The women interviewed ranged in age from 23-91, and Quigley states that the spiritual perspective of the women depended on their individual stage of life and maturity. For instance, often teenagers and people in their twenties who may have been raised in one religion focus on other issues for a time, and also need to find their own spirituality. That may or may not end up the same as the type of spirituality that they were raised with. However, at least where I live, I see more young people involved in youth groups (often) of their own choosing, and actively involved much more than people my age were when we were that young. This is just a perception, and it may be related to living in a fairly conservative town (now) where religious affiliation is as important as high school in terms of where the young people make their friends and with whom they associate. Yet I grew up in a different time, in a much more liberal area, and spirituality was not a concern for my friends or me until we were much older.

The book is divided into twenty-one chapters and an epilogue and four appendixes. The last appendix is the interview questions, and the book is divided up into chapters that answer each question, i.e., chapter one is the culmination of the answers to question one. Also one of the appendixes is a description of some details of the women, such as first name, age, occupation, marital status, and religious/spiritual affiliations. Interestingly, many of the women worked in some capacity for children or in a helping profession, even if peripherally, such as nutritional consultant for Head Start.

Some of the questions, and thus, chapters, were on such topics as how spirituality is impacted by work experiences, barriers to a woman's spirituality, the impact of one's spirituality on others, and the emotional spiritual connection. Other topics included the importance of spirituality in a male-female relationship, how spirituality eases a woman's life, and moments when a woman feels most spiritual. The development of spirituality and spiritual mentors are also discussed. At one point in the book, the author discusses how she was raised by spiritual parents, but because she grew up in the sixties, she "foolishly placed" her spirituality on the backburner. This is similar to what I stated above, and I also grew up in the sixties. I'm not so sure it was the sixties that caused one to place spirituality somewhere else as much as the age. A teenager often puts religion aside, feeling perhaps immortal or unable to see the "big picture." At any rate, I found it interesting that Quigley and I had similar experiences but attributed them to different causes.

I think this book would be quite helpful to other women who are just finding their spiritual way, or would like to connect with other women who are comfortable with their spirituality. For that matter, I think it is important for women to connect with women for many reasons and certainly spirituality is as good as any to get started. I know this book took a lot of time and energy for Quigley to put it all together, and I'm sure many women will enjoy reading it.

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June 13, 2004 in Spirituality | Permalink

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