"In this book of his selected essays I have gathered much of what he wrote after the Prayer came to him in 1983 and radically changed both his life and mine. In doing this, I hoped to share with others the great beauty of this man's soul and perhaps bring some completion and fulfillment to the work he had begun. But the project has served me, too. I have gotten to know him better and value him even more; and I've been able to continue hearing his voice (so richly present in this work!) long after it was silenced by illness and death. By God's grace, I have now been given more than half a century in the company of this best friend I love, and now miss, so much.
Professor of literature, scholar, teacher of poets and poetry, convert to the Eastern Orthodox Church, man of prayer, Donald Sheehan wrote these wide-ranging essays with a common commitment to understanding the ways in which the ruining oppositions of our experience can be held within the disciplines of lyric art—held “until God Himself can be seen in the ruins . . . and overwhelmingly and gratefully loved.” That is what Sheehan means by “the grace of incorruption.” Part One weaves together themes from Sheehan’s life and pilgrimages; the spiritual art of Orthodox Saints Gregory of Nyssa, Isaac and Ephraim of Syria, Sergius of Radonezh, Herman of Alaska; the literary art of Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Frost, Salinger, and contemporary poets Jane Kenyon, Sydney Lea, and Nicholas Samaras; the philosophy of René Girard—examining the nature of penitence, prayer, personhood, freedom, depression, and the right relationship to the earth. Part Two delves into the poetics of Psalms, especially LXX 118: a “poetics of resurrection,” a poetics that came to govern the lifework of an extraordinary man, blessed with faith, learning, and humility.