What makes Slavic, and specifically Polish, spirituality unique and compelling today? The rich and long Slavic spiritual tradition holds that everyday holiness thrives on different seasons—through Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter and from consolation to desolation and everything in between. Claire Anderson, of Polish descent and currently the Director of Siena Retreat Center in Wisconsin, explores this tradition and expands it by connecting these seasons to the rhythms and practices in her own Polish cultural tradition and the physical world around her.
Seasons of the Slavic Soul is an ideal companion for both nature retreat and spiritual pilgrimage—or a combination of the two. Drawing on the author’s deep engagement through years of travel and research, the book introduces the reader into the vast spiritual and cultural resources within the Polish community and invites awareness of the connections between us human beings and the natural world. It reveals the gift that is at the heart of all life.
Anderson characterizes Seasons of the Slavic Soul as “a journey of integration.” Readers who join her quest for an authentic Polish spirituality will be well rewarded.
“A deeply rich and yet accessible look at Slavic culture through the lens of spirituality, poetry, art, mythology, and history. Claire Anderson shares stories, traditions, and insights that made my soul leap for joy. In so many ways, this book contains all of our collective stories, regardless of our ethnicity or background. Both profound and yet simple, this gem of a book has something for everyone.” —Julianne Donlon Stanz, Director of New Evangelization, Diocese of Green Bay
SEASONS OF THE SLAVIC SOUL: A Quest for an Authentic Polish Spirituality
A REVIEW by Fran Salone-Pelletier
"Having in mind my son-in-law as well as my pastor; the former embracing Polish ancestry, the latter born in Poland, I was eager to read this book. In the stated intent “seeking an authentic Polish spirituality,” my hope was to discover intricacies, connect more deeply to them, and thus to those who enjoy this heritage. My eagerness harvested delicious fruit.
As its title indicates, Claire M. Anderson’s interestingly novel presentation views the spirituality of the Poles from the perspective of a people whose very nature is tied inextricably to the earth and all its generative powers. Those powers, in turn, are linked to the Creator and thus evoking continued understanding of an ever-present Deity. Impelled by her own Slavic legacy, Anderson’s search was deepened and broadened by 18 months spent in Poland, as well as other sites where the traditions of yesteryear were observed. This personal experience offers unique validity to the obvious research which provided the finished product.
Anderson’s presentation is multi-layered. By combining the ‘ancient’ history of the Slavic people with their ongoing celebration of Christian rites and rituals, she offers a certain universality too frequently avoided or ignored yet profoundly necessary for spiritual growth. Inclusion of suggested activities and questions for reflection, as well as her personal storied, add multi-layered dimensions to an already interesting little book.
To follow the seasons of the year, as proposed, is to “begin to absorb the reality that cataclysm is what gives birth.” It is “an invitation…to trust that emergence, the crashing of the old in me into the creative prospect of the new.” It is to understand those stages and changes as entries fostering deeper life—each moment, each day, each year.
Step by step, the reader is assisted to experience the vitality underlying all creation, all people, all the time. Today, ours may not be an agrarian lifestyle, yet much is gained from a vicarious experience of its power and joy. This book provides a refreshing access to a re-connection with the earth and all its creatures. It engenders profound energy in a utilitarian technology that often evokes solitariness without solitude. Life with things, not with people, denies the transformation to be found in journeying through the seasons of the soul.
Anderson calls the reader to a journey “where all is gift and all are interconnected.” It’s a voyage worth taking."
CLAIRE M. ANDERSON is the American-born great-granddaughter of Polish immigrants. She is presently the Director of Siena Retreat Center in Racine, Wisconsin.