By: Starr Regan DiCiurcio
Publisher: DartFrog Books
Publication Date: October 2021
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Spiritual awareness is a gift that all of us possess and can cultivate and enhance, according to author and minister Starr Regan DiCiurcio.
According to the author, we are all a rich combination of qualities and characteristics imbued from three sources: our DNA, or blood ancestry; our spiritual ancestors – those who influence our thinking and feeling about higher realities; and our land ancestors – those who occupied the earth before us.
Moving back from this overview, DiCiurcio makes practical suggestions. Deep looking and deep listening may be needed to begin to grasp the inner realities that infuse the outer world we occupy. Meditation or mindfulness, induced through thought and posture, joined with mantras – certain words or phrases that can be repeated as part of the practice – and even greater awareness of the simple act of breathing – all can help us in our search for expanded consciousness. Through such habits, along with attachment to a spiritual community, creative expressions and the occasional retreat into solitude, we will gradually find ourselves experiencing connectedness with others, which can lead to the wish and ability to accept, forgive and join in a collective effort to improve what the author sees as a slowly decaying planet. In her chapter “Saving Mother Earth,” DiCiurcio urges readers to learn from our ancestors such as Native Americans and the ancient Celts, peoples who honored the natural world without heavily intruding upon it. We can do so in a myriad of ways today, expressing as we do so our sense of what Thich Naht Hahn called “interbeing.”
DiCiurcio is an “interfaith minister,” meaning she explores and shares the truths inherent in all great spiritual traditions. She has made a particular study of the work of Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese priest, Buddhist monk and peace activist. She has constructed her gentle guide with “Questions for Reflection” and “Creative Stretch” at the end of each chapter, and has appended a lengthy section containing “Prayers and Meditations” focused on such significant matters as the seasons, death, birth and healing. True to her interfaith calling, she offers prayers and practices from all the world’s great religions without bias toward or against any particular spiritual path. This openness, continually expressed in numerous creative, intelligent examples, makes her work a useable, accessible guide for all ardent seekers after truth and peace.
Quill says: DiCiurcio’s Divine Sparks holds out the promise of illuminating our lives through personal meditation techniques and contemplation of spiritual truths provided in a format both poetic and pragmatic.