River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times was my first book, written in 2015. In the book I reflect upon suffering in my life which included the deaths of my parents and the loss of my singing voice. By trusting in God even when I had no idea where He was leading me, I experienced transformation as a result of the creative power of grief.
River of Grace provides powerful personal stories of loss and grief along with creative ways to cope through trust and faith. It’s a book of hope during this difficult pandemic.
To give you a better idea of the nature of River of Grace, I invite you to watch/listen to a 40 minute presentation on the book which also includes some songs that amplify the meaning.
Where to order River of Grace
My publisher, Ave Maria Press, is holding a Labor Day Weekend sale — go to their website for 10% off the purchase price.
OCTOBER 28, 2016 – Wonderful interview on CatholicTV today — this explains better than anything just what River of Grace is all about! Still available on Amazon if you want a copy, especially during the month of November as we pray for our beloved dead. Thank you Kate and CatholicTV!
NOTE: I have a bunch of these spiritual exercises in River of Grace called Flow Lessons and I thought I would share them with you. Give it a try and see what happens!
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Materials needed: pen or pencil and paper; a large sink or bathtub; a small, empty Tupperware; various small objects that will not be harmed should they get wet
Note: If you belong to a faith tradition that practices the sacraments (such as the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal or Orthodox faiths), making use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession/Absolution is the best place to start when dealing with regrets. The kind counsel of the priest coupled with the reception of sanctifying grace provides true spiritual healing. The value of this exercise is for any leftover regrets you were unable to release after reception of the sacrament.
Part of my work life consists in writing and marketing books and music. I do it here on my website and sometimes in person. As a typical creative, I far prefer the creation process over the selling of what I create. Writing nourishes my spirit while marketing drains it. It can feel forced and even a bit sleazy.
I had the distinct pleasure of being interviewed for CatholicTV’s flagship program, “This is the Day” this past Friday regarding River of Grace. The lovely Kate Andrews conducted the interview and we had a wonderful conversation about losses and the grief journey, and how every person is blessed with creativity through the Holy Spirit.
The show will air for the first time on Friday, May 27th at 10:30 and rebroadcasts Friday at 7:30pm, Saturday at 4:30am and 5:30pm and the following Monday at 12am. It will be available online anytime during that period at http://www.catholictv.com/shows/this-is-the-day.
In this in-depth hour-long interview: we dive deep into River of Grace – gratitude in the midst of difficult times – obedience as a joyful “yes” to new adventures, new life after loss and restoring the joy of living, life metaphors for grace … Also, a quick sneak peak at Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message! Elizabeth Reardon really did her homework! Check it out.
Louisa May Alcott:Illuminated by The Message is here!
Book Signing/Launch this Sunday, Dec. 6, 4 pm (I will also be signing copies of River of Grace – bring yours!) Short presentation followed by conversation and signing. The Barrow Bookstore, 79 Main Street, Concord, MA(rear of the building, behind Fritz & Giggi)
Part of the Literary Portals to Prayer series by ACTA Publications.
Other classic authors in the series include Elizabeth McGaskell, William Shakespeare, Herman Melville, Hans Christian Anderson, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.
You can purchase your copy of Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message online: Regular edition and Large Print available. Makes a great gift!
November can be a difficult month for many. The clocks roll back and the sun sets at 4:30. The temperatures cool and the last of the leaves fall to the ground. There are many cloudy, gray days.
November reminds us that we cannot escape our fate–we all die at some point. Our physical deaths can happen suddenly. Or our health may deteriorate over time, bit by agonizing bit. Dying may be the daily giving up of some part of ourselves that we cherish. Memories fade. Legs weaken and fail. We can barely check our email or turn on the TV because the technology overwhelms us.
November is the month we remember all those who have died and as a community, we lift them in prayer. It reminds us of the grief that never ends, perhaps bringing it forward just when we thought we had sent it to the back of our minds and hearts.
Grief is mysterious and capricious. It creeps up on us, explodes inside of us, in the most inopportune times and places. I can’t tell you how many times tears have suddenly sprung to my eyes in the middle of a crowded room. There is never a day that we forget our loved ones. Happy occasions make us long for them so that we can share our joy. Hard times see us reaching out in vain for those loving arms that would assure us that “everything will okay.”
Grief is a journey that demands our compliance. Resist, and we will pay the price of remaining stuck in that place of sorrow, bitterness and anger; we will die in our grief. Comply, and grief will recreate us; we will live again.
At the age of fifty-nine I have become the published author of not one, but two books, both of which are the products of my grief. When the journey began in 2010 after I lost my mother, I was too numb and worn out to resist– God’s grace beckoned me to go on grief’s journey. In the process, I discovered the life-giving creativity inherent in that journey, taking that which already existed and shaping it into something new and wonderful.
Any artist, writer, musician or dancer will tell you that excellence in the creative life requires a letting go of control–you must give yourself over to something bigger than yourself, and collaborate with that force which compels you to create. That force will demand that you dig deep for answers and that you be open to any possibility. Your heart must remain soft, supple, and vulnerable.
Grief is that kind of creative force, demanding much the same.
I have no idea why I allowed myself to go with the flow of my grief journey. For some reason I was able to trust in God’s care and float down his river of grace. It was often a very confusing journey as I was given just enough knowledge to motivate me to continue, but no more; I was clueless as to where it would all lead. Sometimes the waters were rough. What I do know is that in the midst of my deep sorrow I found a wellspring of joy: “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”. (Luke 6:38, NIV). As a result, each day became part of an exhilarating adventure.
Death and mourning need not signal the end; our faith teaches us that it is in fact a beginning. During this month of All Souls, may we pray for those who have penetrated the veil, and ask for God’s river of grace to carry us through our grief and recreate us. In the words of Saint Paul from Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
A dear friend from my Louisa May Alcott is My Passion blog wrote a wonderful review of River of Grace! This is a really comprehensive review; if you’re wondering what this book is about, Tarissa (the reviewer) summed it up beautifully! Here’s a portion of it:
Susan Bailey shares about the trials and triumphs in her life in her new book River of Grace. She tells how God’s mercy has shown her a greater kind of essence, once she let herself glide along with His unending grace.
A running theme that you learn all throughout this book is how creativity and spirituality go together, hand in hand. Susan illustrates this time and again. Susan pauses to personalize the reading and ask you how you can create new life in your surroundings as you allow the river of grace to run through you. In each chapter, she takes time (and allows you to take time) to reflect and focus on your emotions, thoughts, and defining events in your own life. If you take a few moments to perform the suggested activities, and allow creativity to lead the way, you will be blessed with fresh insight and positivity.
For people struggling with grief, this book shows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Freely, the author doles out the pain she encountered on the deaths of her parents, and how greatly her life changed under those circumstances. She then dispenses the successful tools and mental thought process behind obtaining victory over death. Triumph is available to anyone! This is not a story of how to get over grief fast — but how to deal with it and give your afflictions to the Almighty. You will get through your time of sorrow, and when the grief cycle has ran its course, you will become a more complete person.