Book Review: Between the Dark and the Daylight (Chittister)

Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B is a household name for those Christians (and others) serious about their spiritual life. An international lecturer with more than forty books under her belt, Sister Joan is lauded by many as a sage spiritual guide. Contained in her newest book Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life is a wealth of wisdom.

I’ve often thought about the other nuns in S. Joan’s monastery and the immense pressure that they must feel being in community with S. Joan. This book, however, makes it clear that S. Joan is able to do what she does only because of her community. One does not simply wake up one morning and write “The truth is that we spend our lives in the centrifuge of paradox.” Wisdom like that comes only from a life lived in the context of a collegial, wisdom-filled, loving community.

As I read through S. Joan’s chapters on a variety of topics (“The Poverty of Plenty,” “The Role of Success in Failure,” and “The Noise Within the Silent Self” to name a few), I was reminded of conversations I have with my own spiritual director. S. Joan is not lecturing in this book. In a very real way, she is in dialogue with the reader. In many ways, Between the Dark and the Daylight is a portable spiritual director. When faced with a dilemma or spiritual crisis, I can turn to my bookshelf, find the beautifully blue cover, and find within its pages consolation, courage, challenge, and hope. While the relationship of a spiritual director and directee is not to be replicated fully, S. Joan’s approach to guiding is similar. Qualified though she is to lecture little ol’ me on the spiritual life (a life she’s lived for longer than I’ve been alive), she does not presume to lecture me. The words of her book companion me in a very powerful way.

By way of mechanics, the book is very attractive. I have it in hard cover with a paper dust jacket. As you can see from the image posted above, the cover design is beautiful. With an introduction and acknowledgements the book is 173 pages, making it a very quick read. There are thirty-two chapters. There is no colophon, but the font is very readable. The back flap of the jacket suggests that the book is also available in ebook format. It comes with recommendations from some of the big names in contemporary religion: Richard Rohr, OFM; Barbara Brown Taylor; James Martin, SJ; Simone Campbell, SSS; Ruth Burrows, OCD.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anybody interested in the spiritual life. I think that it is especially useful for those looking to take their spiritual lives to the next level.

I have been provided a review copy of Between the Dark and the Daylight by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. For more information on Blogging for Books, please visit


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