The Force of Spirit

From the Introduction:

In trying to show what binds together the seeming scatter of things, I find myself pointing to an elusive energy, a shaping power that flashes forth in nature, in gesture, in human speech and action.  And when I glimpse it, I can do little more than cry, “There it is!”  All the names we use for the fire at the heart of matter are risky—God, Yahweh, Creator, Allah, Manitou, among countless others—for each comes freighted with a long, compromising history.  From all the possible names I favor spirit, because the word seems to catch the lightness, radiance, and wind-like subtlety of the power that I seek. 

This power seeks me, as well, or so it seems, for time and again I feel the pressure of an inescapable force, which is sometimes delicate, like a wing brushing my face, and sometimes fierce, like a hand squeezing my heart.  I cannot predict when this force will visit me, any more than I can say when the red-tailed hawk that hunts from the ridge behind our cabin will kite across the sky.  I can only watch and wait and make these offerings of words. 

"The Force of Spirit" was selected for The Best American Essays 2000

Praise for The Force of Spirit:

“One of America’s finest essayists. Sanders writes with a rare grace and sensitivity, befriending the reader by being so human himself.” —Phillip Lopate, editor of The Art of the Personal Essay

“Sanders’s voice is honest and witty and rich with the joy of storytelling; he confronts gently, but with determination, many of the dilemmas of our time and the enigmatic nature of our worlds. The Force of Spirit urges the reader to sit back, to enjoy the pleasure of reading, then to consider and reconsider carefully.” —Pattiann Rogers, author of Eating Bread and Honey

“In the tradition of Montaigne, Thoreau, Wendell Berry, and Annie Dillard, Sanders has established himself as one of the few masters of the personal essay.” —Tom Montgomery-Fate, The Boston Globe

“Sanders is the writer I turn to when I feel the need to slow down, pay attention, ponder the blessings of life and acknowledge them with due respect, apprehension, joy. His newest gathering of essays . . . only enhances my admiration for his values, vision, and eloquence.” —Jim Mustick, A Common Reader

Link to a Guide for Reading Groups

Partial Table of Contents:

The Power of Stories

Hawk Rising

Wood Work

Cabin Dreams

The Force of Spirit

Father Within


Learning from the Prairie