by Staff Writer L.M. Browning
Featured in Vol.4 Issue 1 | The Spring 2015 Edition
I’ve had the great honor of calling Gunilla Norris my friend and colleague for almost two years. I acted as Editor and Publisher on Gunilla’s two most-recent works Sheltered in the Heart: Spirituality in Deep Friendship and Match: Bringing the Heart and Will into Alignment.
Gunilla is known for her works of “household spirituality.” Her books explore the sacredness to be found in our daily activities and in the relationships of those with whom we choose to pass our hours. Gunilla walks us through our daily activities, turning our chores into meditations. In her book Being Home: Discovering the Spiritual in the Everyday, Gunilla pens a collection of household prayers that celebrate daily tasks such as making the bed and reading the newspaper while examining their relationship to the Divine. In A Mystic Garden: Working the Soil, Attending to the Soul, Gunilla weaves a lyrical primer on the spirituality of gardening, affirming the garden as a soulful space where people can take root and experience the changing seasons and the enduring cycle of renewal. While her celebrated book Becoming Bread is designed around the place, process, and seasons of making and eating bread, the transformative power of love, in all its many faces, resides. In such meditations as beginning, place, willingness, gifts, living, discipline, pain, sharing, savoring, and then into beginning again.
A list of Gunilla’s works could easily fill several pages. Spiritual figures around the world have enjoyed her meditations. Thich Nhat Hanh reflects, “Gunilla Norris’ simple precepts for meditating and living have a translucent quality. We can all benefit greatly by observing them.” While Bishop Desmond M. Tutu declares, “I was almost breathless with wonder at the beauty of Gunilla Norris’ words—so simple and yet so profound…”
Looking back on her career she says, “When I published Being Home in 1991 I did not know that I had begun a series of books on what I now call household spirituality, or the practice of spiritual awareness in the most mundane and simple of circumstances. Together these books seem to me to be like a crystal with many facets. They are part of one thing and yet shed light from different perspectives on the humblest of our day-to-day tasks. It has always been my understanding that when we are really present in our daily activities, our lives become more luminous, filled with love and grace.”
Gunilla holds her success modestly and continues tending her home, heart, and soul. What Gunilla actually does is try to point out the sacredness to be found in the ordinary, which is a common goal her and I share as I too often advocate “Finding the dearness in what might otherwise be regarded as ordinary.” In a time when existential emptiness is gripping our society, I can’t think of anything more pressing than the need to awaken to the precious worth of the little things with which we fill our daily lives.
Having been in her home, eaten the handmade bread at her table and been the recipient of the harvest from the garden she tends with her hands, heart, and soul, I know Gunilla to be one who walks her talk. She isn’t simply putting out theories on how to live a more conscious life; instead, she is sharing with her readers her life philosophy and invites them into her home to show them how she spends her days, cherishing all those little things that come together to create the deeper meaning in life.
In 2016 Gunilla will release her next work, a spiritual poetry collection entitled, Finding Now. It will be published by Homebound Publications and I will once again find myself blessed with the gift of helping Gunilla bring forth one of her works into the world—a midwife to the force of change she releases into the world each time she puts pen to paper.