The Wilderness Journal: 365 Days with the Philokalia by Angela Doll Carlson
A few years ago My Man bought me The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way translated by Olga Savin b/c I REALLY wanted it. Well, it sat in my TBR pile for at least a year. I do NOT write, highlight, underline in my books but this book is highlighted all throughout because it is so good! It made me really want to buy the Philokalia (I just bought it for myself using Christmas money 😀 ). Also, during this time I read Nearly Orthodox by Angela Doll Carlson. As an inquirer to the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith I loved her honesty and transparency. Fast forward almost 2 years and I jump at the chance to read and review The Wilderness Journal 365 Days with the Philokalia by Angela Doll Carlson.
I am by no means new to Christianity or prayer or devotionals, but reading and trusting the wisdom of the Church Fathers, well, in some ways that IS new to me. So much of what I highlighted in The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way were the words of the Philokalia. According to Wikipedia “The Philokalia (Ancient Greek: φιλοκαλία “love of the beautiful, the good”, from φιλία philia “love” and κάλλος kallos “beauty”) is “a collection of texts written between the 4th and 15th centuries by spiritual masters” of the Eastern Orthodox Church mystical hesychast tradition. They were originally written for the guidance and instruction of monks in “the practice of the contemplative life.” The collection was compiled in the eighteenth century by Nicodemus the Hagiorite and Macarius of Corinth.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philokalia). When Ancient Faith Publishing requested reviewers for The Wilderness Journal, I knew it was another opportunity to step slowly into the deep waters of the Philokalia, so I requested it – hoping to be approved! Obviously, I was! I was so excited I told My Man, my sister, my mom and then anxiously watched the mailbox 😀
The day it arrived, I was sick. I sat down to look through it before really reading it. The cover – a city landscape with skyscrapers, traffic, pedestrians – contrasts and resonates with the title The Wilderness Journal. So often, we think of the city as being civilized, but oh my it can be such a wilderness – as can so much of life! I was wanting to read something so bad but I was so sick and so tired that I really couldn’t focus long or comprehend much. I was so excited that the 365 entries were short (2 minutes or less) and the Philokalia quotes bite sized 😀 The author, Angela Doll Carlson, then adds a snippet of her reflections on the quote in her conversational voice. As I read through the book I took pics of different pages and texted them to my mom, sister, & adult daughter. So many things resonated with me, particularly Day 307 on page 366 “We should therefore regulate our food according to the condition of the body, so that it is appropriately disciplined when in good health and adequately nourished when weak. The body of one pursuing the spiritual way must not be enfeebled, he must have enough strength for his labors. “On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination,” p. 266” (Diadochos of Photiki). She goes on to talk about weight training and fueling our bodies – something I’ve been paying a lot of attention to lately while trying to get healthier.
I was a bit upset that the days are only numbered (Day 1, Day 2, etc) and not dated (Jan. 1, Jan. 2, etc.) as that meant if I wanted to start on the specific day in November then I had to figure out what day of the year it was (hard to do? Not at all, just something else my sick & tired brain had a moments difficulty figuring out LOL). It is also good that this book is set up that way because then it doesn’t really matter what day we are on, does it?
I LOVE the look and feel of the book cover and pages! I love the daily devotional set up! I love Angela Doll Carlson’s conversational and personal writing style. I love everything about this book and see myself buying more for others because I am not likely to part with my copy very easily, and not because I got it free to review!
If you are looking for a good Christian devotional that takes only a few minutes of your time every day, buy this one!
If you are interested, here is a recording of Angela Doll Carlson speaking on Hearts and Minds and Bodies at the Ancient Faith 2018 Women’s Retreat https://www.ancientfaith.com/specials…. The other speakers talks can be found here https://www.ancientfaith.com/specials….