The prairie landscape invites contemplation and reflection, quietly urging us to look within for universal truths. As Hickman points out: only an inner wisdom can help us connect a world of incessant surface activity with a deeper awareness. But no matter where you live, the ideas here will help you discover your place within--returning to it time and time again. We need frequent, meaningful reminders that we are much more than current events, sensational headlines, drama, controversy and conflict, and interminable, often distracting, news bulletins.
On a spiritual level, we are the open space of the prairies, the artistic stretch of silvery blues overhead--in many ways, we are even the curious dance of time.
Our spirits, our hearts, point to a timeless wisdom. Always Returning is an insightful and essential guide.
(Image and synopsis via Goodreads)
When D.A. Hickman published Where the Heart Resides: Timeless Wisdom of the American Prairie in 1999,she likely did not expect another edition or similar book.
However, as Hickman writes on Goodreads, much had happened when she returned to South Dakota and the prairie in 2008. This return to roots, to culture and lifestyle on the prairie, evidently sparked a hunger to not only revisit her own inner wisdom but to invite and carry her readers along with her.
With this 15th Anniversary Edition, a new title, and a new preface, I decided to join Hickman and never looked back after the first page.
My copy of Hickman's Always Returning had just arrived when a trip to the ER with my husband was necessary. I hadn't started the book then and snatched it up as we went out the door. As I waited to learn what was wrong with my dear husband, I began reading. I cannot explain the sense of peace and comfort that washed over me. The writing style is lyrical and provides a seemingly endless look at the prairie, a place no doubt representative to even us city girls when we think of a simpler life.
The view of the prairie is for any reader--city dweller, in the Dakotas, Georgia, New York, New England, or Colorado. Perhaps in a foreign land, military installations, senior or retired living facilities. Or maybe you still live at home with your folks. Perhaps you are among our country's homeless or unemployed and someone has handed you a copy. Hickman's book is for all of you.
Wisdom, however, isn't a surficial phenomenon it must be discovered within--always on a deeper and deeper level. (Preface)
The writer makes it clear that your prairie is found deep within your being by means of becoming deeply aware of our surroundings and all that is ours to behold and experience.
The more pages I turned the more pages I wanted to explore. What I most enjoyed is Hickman's contrasting of the slower nature of the prairie with our tumultuous culture of social media, get it done faster, be everywhere pace in the 21st century.
... [P]rairie wisdom is about learning to look, really look, at life in a way that spotlights the inconsequential, peers under and below the shiny, glittery surface of things, delves into the dusty corners and invisible crevices in an effort to understand the truth of the matter, indeed, the heart of the matter. (At page 15)
Not once does Hickman imply that the prairie is preferable over any other place; she simply points to its differences. And in so doing, she highlights the inner wisdom and beauty of finding our place and within it our wisdom.
In the chapter titled "Borrow It, Don't Buy It," Hickman brings us to a crucial need in all our lives--mutual respect within community. Today we are a have it all, have it now society. Buy, buy, buy is shouted from every media source in the land. Hickman suggests a refocusing on a new direction toward the time once again when "less is more."
Either way, borrowing, because it seems convenient, friendly, and fun, or borrowing out of necessity, can keep our need for material possessions in perspective. Regardless of where you reside, of where you have come to know the wisdom of place, develop close friendships that allow for a healthy give-and-take. The mutual respect, the warm feelings of cooperation that develop, will ensure a happier tomorrow for us all. (At page 187)
As I turned the last page, I experienced a mix of emotions--well-being, sadness, hope, and yes, my own place of wisdom. Always Returning is a book I will always keep close by to return to again and again.
Always Returning is truly a book providing a map to the heart, a map GoogleMaps, Bing Maps, and Mapquest cannot offer. Hickman shows us where to plant our hearts and nurture them so their growth extends beyond us on to others. If there is hope for peace on this earth, that hope may just be found in prairie wisdom.
This is a book for the enjoyment of readers of all ages (young adult and up), of all faiths and spiritualities, of all lifestyles, of all cultures. I highly recommend it as a gift book whose recipient will be blessed over and over again.
I rarely rate books on this blog. And when I'm forced to give a star rating on Amazon, Goodreads, or other book sites, I rarely give a 5-star review. The book must be exceptional to garner five stars.