Books for Christmas: Awareness

Reviewed By Father Jim McDermott, SJ
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

No book has helped my own relationships with people more in the last 10 years than “Awareness,” a transcript of a preached retreat given by well-known spiritual director Jesuit Father Tony DeMello. Presented in chapters of just a couple of pages each, “Awareness” proposes that each of us is so caught up in our own desires, expectations of others and personal history that we rarely see the people around us for who they actually are.

The key to the spiritual life, he argues, is to learn how to step back and observe ourselves as we project disappointment and demands upon the world around us. It’s not an easy assignment.

His talks are filled with both challenging and funny stories about just how much we all basically wish we could stay asleep rather than face these things about ourselves. But his goal is to help people learn that we are not our disappointments or our resentments, that they are more like little children tugging at our sleeve. We can listen to them and learn from them, befriend them even, but we are ultimately independent of them.

In realizing that we give others the freedom to be who they are, and the same for ourselves.