Sister John has devoted her life to serving God. For almost 30 years, she has lived in a Carmelite monastery near Los Angeles. There, she experiences religious visions of such intensity that she is revered by the other nuns. But these visions also bring on excruciating headaches. When she is offered an operation that may stop the pain, she realizes that it may also stop the visions. Now Sister John wonders how this change will affect her faith.
Lying Awake is an eloquent examination of religious experience that transcends the boundaries of church and doctrine. Narrator Linda Stephens perfectly conveys Sister John's thoughts, feelings, and visions.
©2000 Mark Salzman; (P)2001 Recorded Books
I had high hopes for this book about personal and collective religious experience and perceptions. I have listened to the book twice thinking I must have misunderstood some key message. However, with each reading I find the premise of the book increasingly disturbing. The portrayal of monastic life was strange. The motivations of the community and the nun involved seemed skewed and just plain off. I think the book was written by an outsider looking in at a life and situation they did not even begin to understand. Major pieces of the picture and puzzle are missing and or even misrepresented. Beautiful writing in the abstract but I'm afraid it misses the mark and is just terrible.
I finished this little book at one sitting. Yet, there is something to it. It tells the story of Sister John of the Cross who learns that her ecstatic visions may be seizures that endanger her health. She has to decide whether her life is a life of faith or a life of closeness to God through these ecstasies. It raises interesting questions about the meaning of the life of faith.
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