Item description for The Echo Within: Finding Your True Calling by Robert Benson & R. Benson...
Overview "I can remember the words people said that meant so much to me and my own sense of who I was and who I might become.... You know you have heard such a sentence when you hear inside a corresponding "Yes." The "Yes" is an echo of sorts, or at least it is the same voice as is the Echo that you have come to count on. Such a sentence takes your breath away.... It tells you something about yourself that you suspected or hoped, something you glimpsed but were too shy or uncertain to name aloud."" Robert: this quote is from chapter 7, page 89 of version Lil marked up] " To Hear and Live Your Calling When one day a friend wondered if he was being called to a certain field of work, he asked Robert Benson, "Do you think I am?" "The Echo Within" is Robert's illuminating answer, a thoughtful, honest, profoundly-affecting account of his own search and failings and eventual discovery of the "Yes" he describes-what it is one truly is called to do and be. Written out of a lifelong search and response to the callings on his life, "The Echo Within" explores: -how to love the work you do, and the process of doing it. -ways to sense God's pleasure in your pursuits, both in the pursuits and in you. -whether you fall into your vocation as a destiny or you chart that course. -how to begin living with added dimensions of meaning and purpose. Through the ups and downs of the changes inherent in family life, professional choice, and spiritual experience, Robert shares with wisdom, humor, and heart what he's learned-and how you can discover your calling too.
Publishers Description “I can remember the words people said that meant so much to me and my own sense of who I was and who I might become…. You know you have heard such a sentence when you hear inside a corresponding Yes. The Yes is an echo of sorts, or at least it is the same voice as is the Echo that you have come to count on. Such a sentence takes your breath away…. It tells you something about yourself that you suspected or hoped, something you glimpsed but were too shy or uncertain to name aloud.” To Hear and Live Your Calling
When one day a friend wondered if he was being called to a certain field of work, he asked Robert Benson, “Do you think I am?”
The Echo Within is Robert's illuminating answer, a thoughtful, honest, profoundly-affecting account of his own search and failings and eventual discovery of the Yes he describes–what it is one truly is called to do and be. Written out of a lifelong search and response to the callings on his life, The Echo Within explores:
•how to love the work you do, and the process of doing it.
•ways to sense God's pleasure in your pursuits, both in the pursuits and in you.
•whether you fall into your vocation as a destiny or you chart that course.
•how to begin living with added dimensions of meaning and purpose.
Through the ups and downs of the changes inherent in family life, professional choice, and spiritual experience, Robert shares with wisdom, humor, and heart what he's learned–and how you can discover your calling too.
“In this so-beautiful book, Robert Benson provides the sky in which your soul can soar. You can fly.” –Leonard Sweet, author of the The Gospel According to Starbucks
“A rare treasure of a book. Robert Benson invites us into a heartfelt and humble journey of discovery of our calling via brokenness. Benson's generous language fills the reader's heart with godly wisdom, humor, and care. A must-read for all those struggling with the gap between deeper longings and the day-to-day struggles of our lives.” –Makoto Fujimura, founder of the International Arts Movement, and author of River Grace and Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture
“The Robert Benson whom so many of us trust and enjoy has never been more open or wiser or funnier about vocation than he is here. Alternately candid and droll, lyrical and entertaining, he lays out the fruits of a lifetime and invites us to feast at will upon them. You will love this book.” –Phyllis Tickle, author of The Words of Jesus: A Gospel of the Sayings of Our Lord and The Divine Hours
“Benson makes a convincing argument that the voice we hear urging us to do the work we love could actually be the voice of the greatest lover of all. By the book's end, readers will smile to think that the vocational boxes we would like to check on our life resume are the same boxes God has already selected for us.” -Nancy Hull, book reviewer for Horn Book Review and The Grand Rapids Press, and author of On Rough Seas
“An insightful and sensitive book about the all-important subject of vocation.” –Marcy Heidish, author of Soul and the City and A Woman Called Moses More Praise for Other Books by Robert Benson “Benson's tone remains chatty and down-to-earth, and the analogies he draws hit the mark ....” –The New York Times Book Review
“Benson writes mellifluously with original insights and welcome humor .... [He] captures a world in which time slows down and material things become of less importance .... Charming and elegantly written . . . that rare gift, a thought-provoking record of his own spiritual quest .... Willa Cather's phrase, ‘They will be done in art as it is in heaven' could serve as an epigraph to (his) fine work.” –Publisher's Weekly
“In looking at his own life with candor and hope, Robert Benson helps us to look at our own. His words have the ring of truth.” –Frederick Buechner, acclaimed author of more than 30 novels and non-fiction books, including his latest, Secrets in the Dark
“Robert Benson reminds us of what we too often forget–that the ground we walk upon is sacred. With the creative eye of a novelist and the playfulness of a poet, he tutors us in the art of really knowing the place where we live and celebrating the wonders in our own backyards.” –Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, coauthors of Spiritual Literacy and directors of SpiritualityandPractice.com Robert Benson has written more than a dozen books about the discovery of the sacred in the midst of our ordinary lives, including Between the Dreaming and the Coming True, Home By Another Way, and Digging In. His work has been critically acclaimed in a wide range of publications from The New York Times and USA Today to Spirituality & Health and The Benedectine Review. He is an alumnus of The Upper Room's Academy for Spiritual Formation and was recently named a Living Spiritual Teacher by Spirituality&Practice.com. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
IT WAS EARLY FALL, and it was late afternoon, and I was walking through old Carolina pines with a new friend. We were near the ocean, near enough to hear the surf as we walked along a broad path through the forest.
I say I was with a new friend. I only spent five days with him, and I had never seen him before and have not seen him since. He and I were two of about sixty people at a retreat, and I was the speaker.
“I think I am being called to go to seminary,” my new friend said. “Do you think I am?”
He was wrestling with a question that almost always arises whenever questions of calling are being raised. He was hoping I could tell him if he was being called by God to do a particular thing or if he was wanting to do it for his own reasons and giving God the credit. (Or the blame, perhaps?) He wanted me to look into the future and tell him which choice would be the right one. He was hoping I was a lot more than a speaker; he was hoping I was a prophet.
For a while I did the wisest thing I know to do in such a situation, which is to keep my mouth shut and listen.
We walked for a bit longer, and he talked a little more, and I tried to pay careful attention to the story he was telling me. We stopped for a moment to watch the sea and to listen to the surf.
“Sometimes,” he said, “I cannot tell if it is God telling me this or if I am just talking to myself.”
We watched the sea for a while.
“Exactly what does God's voice sound like?” I asked him. “And how do you recognize that voice when you hear it?”
My new friend looked at me as though perhaps he should not be wasting his time with a guy who suddenly did not appear to be so prophetic after all.
I had clever follow-up questions too. “Does God sound like James Earl Jones or Helen Mirren? What if God sounds like Judi Dench or George Burns? What if God's voice is shrill and hard to listen to? What if God sounds like Truman Capote? What if the voice sounds like your own voice?”
These were not unreasonable questions to me on that day and are still not on this day. My new friend looked at me as though I had gone from being not as smart as he had hoped to being a smart-aleck instead.
But I had a reason for asking those questions.
People go away on spiritual retreat for all kinds of reasons. I am one of those people. I think it is a good idea to go away for a while to listen for, and maybe even to, God.
It was my father who taught me to love going on retreat. He led so many of them that his father once asked him if he should not go on an advance for a change.
I think a retreat can be especially helpful when you are wrestling with some particular thing in your life. Having a leader or a teacher or a speaker there is a nice bonus, but it is not always the point. As the years go by, I go to fewer and fewer retreats where there is a speaker. Sometimes it is easier to listen for the voice of God if there is not someone else talking all the time.
I do not think I am necessarily right to think this way, but there it is. And I am glad everyone does not think this way, because I do like to go and be the speaker.
Some years ago I went away to become a member of the Academy for Spiritual Formation.
In simple terms the Academy is a program you attend once a quarter for two years, spending a week each time with the same sixty or so people—a week devoted to study, prayer, silence, worship, and community. The Academy is one part retreat, one part seminar, one part camp meeting, and one part small group.
That is why I have often said that in order to get the most out of the Academy, a person should be one part monk, one part dogface recruit, one part student, and seven parts hungry to learn to pray. There are not many things in this world that turn out to be more than the sum of the parts; the Academy is one of them.
The first week I listened carefully to everything as I was supposed to. Who I listened to most was a theologian and scholar named Robert Mulholland. And I have never gotten over one thing I remember from a whole week of listening to his lectures.
Dr. Mulholland is the one who introduced me to the Hebrew word dabhar, a word meaning “God spoke.” Dabhar is the word used in Genesis, in the opening line of the beginning of the whole Story of us all. The word is most often rendered as created in our English translations.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is the way the Story has always begun for many of us. And when you say it that way, creating the heavens and the earth sounds like the sort of thing one would do with his hands in the midst of the mother of all sandboxes.
I can imagine God down on holy knees somewhere in central Oklahoma scooping out the Mississippi until it gets to the Gulf of Mexico. Then God takes a handful or two of the extra dirt and pushes forward and to the right, and soon we have the Appalachians running all the way up to where Canada will be, once we need a place called Canada. The earth gives way under the left knee, and God decides the Rockies have a kind of majestic look to them after all of that flat land that is going to be Kansas. Kansas is going to be beautiful when all the grasses have been planted there and they have time to learn to go golden in the sun. Somebody will write songs about these flatlands someday, about amber waves of grain and purple mountains, once somebodies have been made, and once they have had time to learn to write songs.
Then there are oceans to be made and more mountains on the other side of the earth. There are stars to be hung in the night sky, “God's sweet lanterns,” as James Taylor once described them. And on and on. Thinking about the creation of the universe in this way makes me smile.
Here is another thing that makes me smile: after all of this time, we do not really understand the ways of God, do we? Not even after all of these years of telling each other this Story and having people try and explain the Story to us. All of our theology and scholarship and imagination notwithstanding, we do not even have a good handle on the way the whole thing started.
Saint Augustine once said to a group of people, “We are talking about God. What wonder is it that you do not understand? If you do understand, it is not God.”
We keep trying though. We keep trying to understand the mysterious ways of God. Which is why the word dabhar caught my attention and has never quite let it go. I am still trying to hold the wonder of the word and how the word itself has changed the way I have come to see the way we were made.
According to the people who told this Story first, in the Hebrew language and not the king's English, the making of the heavens and the earth, and all that came to be, for that matter, was for God a thing done with the voice rather than the hands. Dabhar suggests an understanding of the way God creates that is very different from my vision of God in a sandbox.
Dabhar means we are more accurate if we say, “In the beginning God spoke the heavens and the earth.” Dabhar means God spoke the mountains and the seas. God spoke the mornings and the trees and the streams and the songbirds. God spoke the stars, those sweet lanterns, and God spoke the plains and the amber waves of grain. God spoke the roses that climb up on the roof of my studio, and God spoke the breeze that tells me the rain is soon to come, the rain God spoke into being this morning when God said let there be light all over again.
In those days when I was listening to Bob Mulholland, I was also learning to pray the Psalms. I have not gotten over what the Psalmists said any more than I have gotten over what Bob Mulholland said.
In the ninety-fifth one, the Psalmist writes, “We will know your power and presence this day, if we will but listen for your voice.” I had always taken the phrase to mean we are to listen for the voice of the God without. And it is true. We are to listen for the way God speaks to us through the breeze and through the rain, through the voice of a friend and the laughter of a child, through the thousand other ways God speaks into our lives.
But we are to learn to listen for and to recognize the voice of God within us as well.
We are, said Bob Mulholland, “an incarnate word, spoken by God, still being spoken by God.” And because we are still being spoken, the questions we have about calling are, in part, questions about listening for the incarnate word being whispered into us. They are questions about learning to open up to and becoming the word that was whispered into us. And is still being whispered into us.
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Studio: WaterBrook Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.52" Width: 5.44" Height: 0.73" Weight: 0.58 lbs.
Release Date Jan 31, 2009
Publisher WaterBrook Press
ISBN 1400074347 ISBN13 9781400074341
Availability 0 units.
More About Robert Benson & R. Benson
Robert Benson is the author of numerous books, including "The Echo Within, Digging In, "and "Home by Another Way." A retreat leader, Benson writes and speaks often on the life of prayer and contemplation, the practice of faith and spirituality, and the art and craft of writing. He is a graduate of and an adjunct faculty member for the Academy for Spiritual Formation, a program of The Upper Room. He is married to the literary agent Sara Fortenberry. Benson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and he dances on the head of a pen every day no matter where he happens to be.
Robert Benson currently resides in Nashville, in the state of Tennessee.
Robert Benson has published or released items in the following series...
I would recommend Robert Benson's The Echo Within: Finding Your True Calling. I was fortunate to receive a few free copies as part of a special pre-release promotion (which I passed along to a couple of my interns). [...]
The book is a profoundly affecting, honest look at the myriad ways we are drawn into our life's best work. Written out of his own lifelong search for and response to the calling voice of God, Robert Benson recounts his discovery of the meaning of vocation, work, and purpose through the ups and downs inherent in family life, professional choice, and spiritual experience. With clarity and insight, and in the elegant prose for which he is known, he gently invites and encourages readers to find such deep truths for their lives as well. In particular, he illuminates the way for readers to explore:
Ways to sense the Holy in our pursuits, both in the pursuits themselves and within ourselves.·
How to fall into our vocation and chart a course toward it at the same time. How to love the work we do, and the process of doing it. For anyone beginning a new career or sensing a needed change in their life or wrestling with a transition suddenly thrust upon them, Robert Benson delivers wisdom, humor, and heart in what he's learned about listening for The Echo Within--and how it can help us discover our calling. My two pieces of caution, and they are not a small ones, are that he writes the entire book without (to my knowledge) mentioning the name of Jesus Christ or the study of Scripture. Though he is a gifted writer and talended storyteller, he is no theologian. Any spiritual discernment must be centered upon our repentance, reconcilation, and restoration through Christ and our submission to the bible. That being said, My favorite chapter was titled "Hearing." The author spent a great time reflecting upon all of the people who God used to shape and sharpen the man who he would become. I recalled the Apostle Paul's words to the Corinthian church which read, "For when one says, 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,' are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe-as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor" (1 Corinthians 3:4-8). I am eternally indebted to the diverse group of people who Christ used to speak to me at different points in my life. There is not enough room on my blog to list the people who I have been loved and lead by. I also am leary of writing specific names in fear that I will not be able to list everyone and possibly offend them - but I will do so anyways. Some of these people have come and gone . . . some I have even drifted apart from . . . but they were influential for a season nonetheless . . . and most are lifelong friends. My father taught me to love God even when no one was looking - and to be a man of my word. My mother prayed for me as a child. Jana Farley shows me true beauty each and every day. My brother has reminded me to dream. My sister has showed me how to learn. My stepmother has always protected me (even when it was from myself). My Grandfather Farley showed me that there is life after death. My Granfather Buller listens. Darrell Elliott encouaraged me to forgive. Rob Bennett challenged me to follow Christ. Neil King encouraged me to love the bible even more. Mr. Deathridge taught me how to write (sorry that I am not better than this). Dr. Stallman allowed me to heal. Paul Dron played games with me when I needed it the most. Randy Beal remindes me to be dependent upon the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Skip Bennett gave me shot when others would not. Brad Fox reminded me that I was not alone. Jeffery Portmann shows me what a leader worth following actually looks like. Ryan Smith is loyal. Darrin Cavnar is comitted. David Brakke is obedient to God regardless of the cost. These are just a small fraction of my mentors and friends from the past and the present. There are many more who I am forever grateful to. There are those that I partner alongside today. I am constantly learning from the most unlikely of people . . . especially the ones who I am supposed to be teaching and leading (such as my children, my student ministry, and leadership team). I hope that I can engage, enable, entrust, and encourage those around me in just half the capacity that they have done so for me. Robert Benson has written more than a dozen books about the discovery of the sacred in the midst of our ordinary lives, including Between the Dreaming and the Coming True, Home By Another Way, and Digging In. His work has been critically acclaimed in a wide range of publications from The New York Times and USA Today to Spirituality & Health and The Benedictine Review. He is an alumnus of The Upper Room's Academy for Spiritual Formation and was recently named a Living Spiritual Teacher by SpiritualityandPractice.com. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Very Insightful Mar 19, 2009
For years my wife and I have looked for/pursued/quested after/sought/yearned for some deeper significance to living, to existence. Benson's explanation of "the echo within resonating" now makes perfect sense of these past years. We're not crazy, we're not incorrigible dreamers. Rather, we are seeking that which resonates within OUR hearts. Not everyone can hear our echos and likely we can't hear their echos. But God-given echos deep within ourselves are real and it is possible to find that which resonates with our souls.
Very good, definitely recommended, well-written, short, nice read. Mar 6, 2009
The Echo Within is a short book in which Robert Benson describes his own search for (and eventual finding of) his calling in life. He describes this search as listening for the voice of God within ourselves - i.e. the echo within. He talks about the integration of his spiritual experiences, work experiences, relationships, and other life experiences into who he now is.
This book is short - less than 200 pages. There is not much detail about Robert Benson's life, yet he manages to put much of himself into those 180 pages. Much of what he said resonated with me. I know about wanting to know my calling in life. But, I'm also learning that my calling in life is wherever I am right this minute.
There is much in this little book that is encouraging and helpful. I recommend it, particularly for those of us coming in to middle age who are starting to wonder if we are really doing the "right" thing in life. Mr. Benson has many good insights.
There is not a lot of direct God-talk in THE ECHO WITHIN, and yet God is underlying all of Benson's prose Mar 4, 2009
THE ECHO WITHIN reminds me of Parker Palmer's LET YOUR LIFE SPEAK, in which the writer presents his own spiritual and vocational journey with broader implications for readers hoping to discern God's will for them or their place in the grand scheme of things.
Benson's book is very personal in a broad-stroke kind of way. As the narrative unfolds, he summarizes his life story --- particularly past alienations and perceived failures --- several times, cutting it various ways. But in doing so, he gives relatively few specific details other than by recounting significant conversations with a colleague, a stranger or a friend. His late father, author and music publisher Bob Benson, plays a kindly but rarely quoted role; the book is framed by scenes of father and son (aged 10 and later, as a teen) walking --- no noted dialogue --- through the parking lot of the Benson printing plant in downtown Nashville. And in one intervening chapter, Benson, aided by a friend's discerning comment, makes peace with his father's premature but anticipated death by cancer. "I was even the guy who handled the `come and say good-bye to Bob Benson' schedule," Benson writes. "And in the end, he did not even say good-bye to me."
This is Benson's story. Though he also gives retreats and addresses on spiritual formation, he identifies himself as "a writer." His vocational discussion --- his journey --- will most clearly resonate with readers, of any age, who are in the arts and/or those who hear the proverbial beat of a "different drummer."
And yet there is something here for everyone, glimpses of a universal application: Listen to and for your heart's desire. "I know a farmer in Mississippi who will get tears in his eyes talking about the rich earth in the Delta... I know a chef who likes his work because he gets to play with knives and fire all day." And notice what God-sent voices your spirit resonates with. "The Voice that calls us can also be heard without us as well as within us." Personally I found insight in a paragraph advising that one not only keep a journal but also re-read old journals once a year to identify recurrent and telling life themes.
There is not a lot of direct God-talk in THE ECHO WITHIN, and yet God is underlying all of Benson's prose, from the first page to the last.
--- Reviewed by Evelyn Bence
Beautiful book about finding your purpose Feb 26, 2009
The Echo Within by Robert Benson is a lyrical and thoughtful look at the quest to find your calling in life. Benson is a colorful character who lived a full life before finally discovering and acknowledging the calling God had placed within him to be a writer. Through short, yet powerful essays, Benson takes the reader through his own journey to peace while planting seeds for thought for the reader's own quest. The echo within is the voice that resonates inside each of us about what God has put us on earth to do. It's the thing we get excited about, that moves us, and that when we find brings a deep sense of peace and purpose. Because Benson is a writer, he tends to focus on writing, and because writing is my own dream, I found much to relate to within the pages. The reader is left with the impression of a man who is deeply in love with God, and who revels in the fact that God is just as deeply in love with him. His message is one of encouragement for everyone to find that kind of peace and love by listening to the echo within each of us. It's beautifully written with a touch of whimsy.