In this spiritual memoir chronicling the journey of a man who became both an ordained Zen meditation teacher and an ordained priest in the Lutheran Church of Sweden, Gustav Ericsson shares reflections and glimpses into the story of how he learned to stop and sit down, be still and listen. Artfully crafted around a travel journal from a deeply reflective trip to Japan, My Christian Journey with Zen is an expression of the author’s spiritual path, focusing on how his meditation practice has grown in both his life and in his service as a parish priest and hospital chaplain.
The traditions of Christianity and Zen may seem less than compatible, but Lutheran priest and ordained Zen meditation teacher Ericsson sees many parallels. Aptly described by Ericsson as a “patchwork of reflections,” this slim volume offers glimpses of his spiritual journey from Sweden to Japan and back. The patchwork approach—diary entries, Bible passages, and Zen poems in every chapter—seems most appropriate in the context of Zen’s call to mindfulness; Ericsson shows how each moment exists on its own, while still being connected to all others. From a Western perspective, this constant movement from one thought to another can be less than satisfying. The chronology of Ericsson’s travels provides the main structure, but we are also treated to brief lessons in Japanese history and Zen vocabulary that can be both too complex for newcomers to absorb and too basic for experienced practitioners to appreciate. Ericsson begins several intriguing threads that leave us wanting more; for instance, he engages us in his prison work through the story of one inmate he initially resisted interacting with, but who in the end taught him deeper compassion for all. These stories impart wisdom, but could be more powerful if explored more deeply and completely. (BookLife)