By Lois Rogers | Correspondent
In her small book, “Things My Father Taught Me About Love,” author, editor and educator Mary Regina Morrell offers a bouquet of insights on faith, spirituality and family life gleaned from her own garden.
Brushed with humor, tenderness and a sense of reverence for the way small and meaningful moments can illuminate life, Morrell’s 54-page book opens the door to her world and bids readers come inside and experience the spiritual gifts of her loving father.
Over the years, she has shared these lessons with readers of her award-winning, syndicated column, “Things My Father Taught Me,” which weaves together insights drawn from life as daughter, wife, mother of six and friend to many. Her column appears monthly in The Monitor.
In what she calls “just a snippet of our lives, a whirlwind of blessing and loss, joy and heartbreak, grief, frustration and accomplishment,” Morrell gifts readers with endearing glimpses into her own life and a reflection of their own.
She begins with a simple litany of these gifts, which run the gamut from doing good and loving well to laughing often as we embrace the mystery of God.
Traveling with her in the all-too-brief pages, we see the possibilities that emerge as “life unfolds while we are not looking.”
The landscape Morrell creates winds through the garden nurtured by her father which, in turn, inspired her boundless ability to marvel at God’s creation.
It surfaces in a pond full of koi where, leaning over to view the aquatic parade, her own reflection in the water brings to mind the myth of Narcissus – the Greek youth in love with his own image. She notes presciently how this ancient and sometimes fatal character flaw seems sadly to be “flourishing in this day and age.”
It’s a vision that ranges from pathos – Morrell writes movingly of the deaths of her parents – to the joy experienced when the ordinary suddenly becomes extraordinary; the immeasurable gratitude of a friend, for instance, when one of her six sons bestows upon him a huge container of cannoli cream rescued from the Shore bakery where he worked as it closed for the winter.
Morrell’s fluid and approachable style is, in itself, a gift to readers. She’s able to weave a considerable body of knowledge drawn from studies in Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y., and Felician University, Lodi, as well as a master’s degree from Seton Hall University, South Orange, into a book filled with basics that everyone can savor.
In demand as a speaker and catechetical consultant, Morrell begins each entry with a quote, drawing mostly from Scripture, the saints or Catholic apologists including G.K. Chesterton and Thomas Hardy.
Opportunities to pause and enter into prayer and reflection with excerpts from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius provide welcome respite in troubled times.
Rabbi Irwin Kula, author of “Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred the Messiness of Life,” captured the essence of this book in his endorsement: “If you want to find God, know love, and truly understand these are the same, read this beautiful book. But be prepared to have your heart opened up, to laugh and to cry, to take many deep breaths of awe and wonder, and to shout out to the Heavens and to the people in your life, ‘Thank You! Hallelujah!’ What a perfect dose of grace this book is for people of all backgrounds.”
“Things My Father Taught Me,” with cover designed by Clara Baumann, graphic designer and production coordinator for The Monitor, is available on Amazon as an e-book.
Mary Morrell is a lifelong writer who has served as managing editor of The Monitor and is author of “Angels in High Top Sneakers,” Loyola Press.