September 22, 2008

In short chapters with titles like “Regret,” “Freedom,” “Possibility” and “Limitation,” Chittister considers the challenges and mysteries of aging. Her goal is to prompt meditation and lead readers to explore their own experiences of joy and loss, rather than offer lessons in growing older. Each chapter ends by balancing the burden and the blessing of aging. “A burden of these years is the possibility that we might succumb to our limitations,” Chittister says. “A blessing is that we know at last what really matters.”

Fourteen poets contributed essays on the Psalms for this volume. Some write on specific psalms, and three different poets comment on Psalm 23. Others write more thematically or reflect on how the Psalms influence their own poetry or make comparisons between their poetry and that of the psalmists. As might be expected, the poets draw out the physicality of the Psalms, even the eroticism in them, and find the Psalms intensely personal.

Artist Debra Band provides a “visual midrash” of 33 of the Psalms, which are followed by comments on the illuminations and the texts by her husband, Arnold Band, a Hebrew literature scholar. The artwork includes calligraphic renditions of the text in both English and Hebrew. Written from a Jewish perspective, the book includes information about how each psalm is used liturgically by Christians.