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Finding Angels in Boulders: An Interfaith Discussion on Dying and Death

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Finding Angels in Boulders: An Interfaith Discussion on Dying and Death

A story that has often been recounted is one of sculptor Michelangelo rolling a boulder up the hillside to the front of his house. When the sculptor took out his hammer and began pounding on the jagged rock, his neighbor was overcome with curiosity. "What are you doing, hammering on that boulder?" the neighbor asked. The sculptor asked. The sculptor replied, "There's an angel inside, and I'm trying to let it out." This story of Michelangelo and the boulder expresses Bruce Epperly and Lewis Solomon's view on our mortal encounter with death. To the creative imagination, an unpromising exterior may hide a work of art. To the holy imagination, angels spring forth in the most unlikely situations. Death, in its many dimensions, is the ultimate boulder that blocks our path to the future. Authentic spirituality embraces the totality of life. Healthy spirituality enables us to experience God in all the seasons of life, especially in life's painful inevitabilities. Weaving together faith and practice, Epperly and Solomon show us how progressive Judaism and Christianity provide tools for transformation and prescriptions for wholeness. These transformative religious practices of ancient wisdom and contemplation joined with contemporary global spirituality enable grieving persons to experience comfort, forgiveness, and hope for the future. They also provide spiritual healing when a physical cure is no longer possible. Through theological reflection, spiritual practices, stories from everyday life, and Jewish and Christian wisdom, Epperly and Solomon inspire progressive Christians and Jews to affirm life in the midst of death and strength amid vulnerability. Spiritual healing, the authors say, does not depend on our efforts, but our openness to the Holy One whose compassion brings hope and possibility.
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