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Shelter for the Spirit

Shelter for the Spirit: How to make your home a haven in a hectic world. Victoria Moran.
Harper Collins, New York, 1997. 220 pages.

I saw this book at my local library while looking for something else. No random coincidence: this "profound and lovely" work came my way when I was exactly ready to explore the deeper meanings of Home.

Shelter for the Spirit is not about the logistics of cleaning, de-cluttering or renovating. It has few of the practical hints or magic secrets so beloved of the professional home-care specialists. The tone is dreamy, the writing lyrical. There are quotes from saints and poets. I loved this book.

After several years of home renewal, I have searched for something to guide me to The Next Step. My house is cleaner than it has ever been, but I have never felt truly "adept at the heartfelt tasks of making a home-the art of designing, furnishing, maintaining and living in a house." Shelter for the Spirit gently opens up a world of creative possibilities far beyond superficial luxury and expensive design. As Thomas Moore says in his foreword, "I welcome this gracefully written book, full of wisdom and sensitivity to the deep home that can cure a troubled soul or make an ordinary life enchanted." I welcome this too.:p:p

I want a haven from the storm. Moran, a writer of uncommon skill, invites me to use my deepest longings to create that haven. She accepts the live-in look of reality: "even an imperfect home can be a magical place." She doesn't belittle the ordinary human instinct to create and feather our little nests: "making a home is a soul-sustaining enterprise." She invites every reader, regardless of circumstance, "married or not, having a houseful or children or living with a piano and a cat," to begin by "recognizing this special place as our spiritual center."

Shelter both inspired and comforted me. It set my doubts and envious fears to rest. "Our homes look best when they look like us." Forget what the style gurus say: she encourages her readers to make a leap of faith: "trusting our instincts." She cherishes the small moments of everyday life; her chapter on Cooking is a delicious treat for anyone who feels most "at home" in an ordinary kitchen (not a professionally equipped monument to wretched architectural excess.) I laughed at the Mozart Birthday Cake she bakes with her pre-teen daughter: I used to celebrate Beethoven's birthday when I was young and fancy-free! Moran shares a wealth of wisdom material from many cultures and faiths. She was once reprimanded: "You pray like a Christian, meditate like a Hindu, and think like a Buddhist." How reassuring! Her words of comfort are accessible to anyone seeking a greater understanding of the universal experience of Home. Besides Cooking, the 8 chapters include Simplifying, Celebrating, Cleaning, with appendices on home births, home schooling, home businesses, home hospice care. If you are looking for meditative inspirational reading (whether you are currently living in a palace or a pigpen), seek out Shelter, a book that "venerates home..the place to cultivate your soul---and do the laundry."


Home is where you go to refuel: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. ~ Victoria Moran, Shelter for the Spirit