Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide: Lessons in Engaged Contemplation
By: Adam Bucko
Nautilus Award Winner
Illumination Award Winner - Spirituality
“Adam blows open the gates of my heart, as he has done since I first met him when he was a young contemplative serving homeless youth on the streets of New York City. The deeper he walks into the holy and broken landscape of the human condition, the more graciously service melds with prayer.”—Mirabai Starr, author, God of Love and Wild Mercy
“I am deeply inspired by these words from Adam Bucko, a contemplative priest, mentor, and friend to the poor. He is a trustworthy guide to discovering a spiritual life for our century and living in service of compassion and justice.”—Richard Rohr, author, Universal Christ
“Each page opens a door into deeper parts of God’s incredible love that we see in Jesus, to discover parts of yourself that you didn’t realize were missing. The result is quietly transformative, as you allow yourself to become a more authentic human being—as Adam Bucko says, a true ‘contemplative activist.’” —The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church; author, Love Is the Way
“Adam Bucko has been shaped by many rich, diverse streams of faith and is able to spit out the bones when it comes to the stuff that can choke you. He is deeply rooted in Jesus, and like Jesus, defies labels and categories. One of my basic prayers has been that what makes God cry would make me cry and what makes God laugh would make me laugh, and that is the prayer at the heart of this wonderful book.”—Shane Claiborne, author, Irresistable Revolution; co-founder, Red Letter Christians
“Father Adam Bucko represents the best of the Christian tradition. Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide is incarnational. He writes with the heart of Thomas Merton and soul of Dorothy Day.”—Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, activist, musician, pastor; author, urbansouls
“Adam Bucko operates from both the heart and the head and is honest about his and our brokenness and limits. Above all, he invites all to become the spiritual workers and servants we are called to be in these times of darkness and hope on the cusp of becoming a new-born humanity.” —Matthew Fox, author, Original Blessing and The Coming of the Cosmic Christ
“This courageous and beautiful book is about saying yes to God, yes to love, yes to our broken world. This is one of the bravest books I have ever read, one that I will return to again and again.”—Roshi Joan Halifax, author, Standing at the Edge; abbot, Upaya Zen Center
“Bucko is a bridge between traditional religion and new forms of community, between Christianity and interspirituality. As more and more of us find ourselves in this chasm, his book can offer a way to more deeply understand and more expansively envision what the changes today can mean for the future of our churches, communities, and world.”—Katie Gordon, co-founder, Nuns and Nones
“Reflecting on insights drawn from a childhood in the Soviet Bloc, Adam’s voice carries a message uniquely suited to accompany us through the aggressions and disillusionment of these times. Savor this gift. Be encouraged, uplifted, and blessed.”—Rhonda Magee, author, The Inner Work of Racial Justice
“Adam Bucko helps me know another world is possible.”—Casper ter Kuile, Harvard Divinity School’s ministry innovation fellow; author, The Power of Ritual
A moving collection of reflections, stories and practices from the life and experiences of Father Adam Bucko—interreligious pioneer, new monastic leader, priest, spiritual director, and activist. They are designed for every person trying to live at the intersection of contemplation and justice.
Written against the backdrop of the COVID 19 pandemic and America’s reckoning with growing poverty, injustice and systemic racism, Let Your Heartbreak be your Guide is uniquely positioned to accompany readers through the disillusionment and violence of these times. Father Adam writes from the heart, offering practical guidance on how to adopt an “engaged contemplation,” a lived spirituality responsive to suffering and injustice.
The book is divided into three parts: Listening to Life, Touching What Frightens Us, and Interrupting Silence. Each chapter offers readers an invitation to pay attention to God who is eager to accompany us through our challenges and hopes. Throughout, Father Adam invites readers to draw from his rich personal experiences, beginning with his youth in Poland where he witnessed courageous priests use nonviolence to fight a totalitarian system, to his work with homeless LGBTQ youth on the streets of NYC, to his interactions with interfaith communities across the globe. Alongside these diverse experiences, Father Adam weaves in wisdom gained from mentors, scripture, and spiritual activists and mystics, such as St. Teresa of Avila, Howard Thurman, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Catherine Doherty and Thich Nhat Hanh.
The book ends with a powerful roadmap for individuals and communities looking to integrate a “rule of life” in service of compassion and justice for all. The book also includes an appendix of contemplative practices to help readers develop discernment, courage, and receptivity to God who is always guiding us towards healing and liberation.
About the Author:
Father Adam Bucko has been a committed voice in the movement for the renewal of Christian Contemplative Spirituality and the growing New Monastic movement. He has taught engaged contemplative spirituality in Europe and the United States and has authored Let Your Heartbreak be Your Guide: Lessons in Engaged Contemplation, and co-authored Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation (with Matthew Fox), and The New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Living (with Rory McEntee). His work has been has been featured by ABC News, CBS, NBC, Harper’s Magazine, New York Daily News, and Sojourner Magazine and he currently serves as a director of the Center for Spiritual Imagination (spiritualimagination.org) and the Cathedral of the Incarnation serving Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island in New York.
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