L.M. Browning has written a volume about spiritual travel, not in the sense of exotic adventure, but in leaving the familiar inner dwelling, while staying close to home, to discover what is true. She lets the reader know that difficult circumstances accompanied her through much of her young life, alluding to sacrifices and betrayals. But that’s not where she leaves us. The purpose of disclosure is to let us know where she’s been and where she’s come to this point: unstintingly honest having found strength in vulnerability. Gratitude for the small things. Connection to place.
She frequently mentions the Transcendentalists. In reading the poetry and introductory essays, I can easily imagine the author walking by Thoreau’s side around Walden Pond. I’ve traveled to some of the places named. But even if I hadn’t, her use of language makes them immediate. And there’s a feeling sense that speaks to an inner space common to all of us—if we choose to know it.
As I grasped the old wrought doorknobs, I shook hands with the past.
Celebrations of nature and history are used as vehicles urging toward spiritual travel, to shed what is meaningless and embrace greater freedom. There are examples on every page. I’ve chosen this one, reprinted with permission, to include here.
Pluck a strand of wind
And listen to the trees quiver.
Run until your heart pounds
And watch the stagnant surface
Of the pond ripple.
The suffocating blankets of false comfort
And let yourself feel the renewal of the rain.
Only when we overcome
Our fear of being along,
Can we come to know the company
That is always with us.
In surrendering, we are cradled.
In accepting, we are able to impart.
In kneeling, we stand taller.
Gather what is worthy of your devotion
And never betray it.
So that, in the end,
You will know that,
Though you be small,
You poured out all that you are
Into what is greater
And in doing so,
Became part of it.
In this thin volume much is said. You’ll not want to hurry through it but rather take a page or two and linger, much as you might to inform meditation practice. Fleeting Moments of Fierce Clarity has been given the distinction of Finalist, Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Non-Fiction Regional Category.