The book TOUCHING THE HOLY: ORDINARINESS, SELF-ESTEEM, and FRIENDSHIP was my first introduction to the writings of Robert Wicks. People had commented to me about his wonderful insights and that the book was written in a manner that was both inviting and engaging so I decided I'd read it while on retreat. It turned out the week was snowy, the retreat house had a fireplace roaring most evenings, and I had the pleasure of spending some time in front of the fireplace reading this wonderful book.
Wicks focuses on three areas as the subtitle suggests. First, he focuses on our call as followers of Christ to ordinariness. Ordinariness for Wicks is not anonymity, weakness, or an encouragement to allow people to take advantage of a person. It is more of an invitation to simply be the people we were created to be. While it may sound as if he is challenging people to be less, his words are an encouragement to be pleased with who we truly are and not to strive to be what we are not meant to be. He quotes all sorts of well known names to base his theory. Some of the names include Thomas Merton, Robert Coles who speaks about his encounter with Dorothy Day, e.e. cummings, Henry Nouwen, and C.S. Lewis. His call to ordinariness reflects his training in both theology and psychology. He then looks at the call of ordinariness from the ancient writings of the Desert Fathers oaf the early Church and modern psychological beliefs about the true self/false self. While Wicks presents this material in an original manner, it is the final section of the book, that on friendship which for me was the book's greatest strength. This is where he first introduces his theory of the four types of friends: cheerleader, harasser, prophet, and soul guide and how our friends help us understand God's love and how we come to understand God's love through friendship. He alter expands on this idea in a book he co-authored with Robert Hamma CIRCLE OF FRIENDS.
This is the kind of book that can be read either in a sitting or two or in small portions as material for prayer and reflection. My guess is that readers will discover a book with much to offer. For me it has become a favorite and I return to it again and again. As a matter of fact, it is after returning to it again that I decided to write this review.