US Catholic Faith in Real Life

USC Book Club: Streams of Contentment

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October 2011:

Streams of Contentment: Lessons I Learned on My Uncle's Farm

By Robert J. Wicks

Review: The word contentment in the title may not be strong enough to shoulder all of the wise and helpful insights that Robert Wicks has stuffed into this small book. “Life is simpler than we make it,” he says at the outset. Then in 15 brief chapters and a month of five-minutes-a-day reflections, he demonstrates, through stories and self-deprecating humor, how to focus on what’s really important. 

Some of his advice is refreshingly counterintuitive: “Stop thinking you are grateful,” “Beware the tyranny of hope.” With abundant common sense, Wicks declares that the true and profound countercultural risk today is “to appreciate who and what is already there in my life.”. —Catherine O'Connell-Cahill, Senior Editor, U.S. CATHOLIC

Streams of ContentmentAve Maria Press says: In 15 poignant, sometimes humorous, and always instructive lessons, Wicks builds on the insights first developed in Riding the Dragon to demonstrate how contentment is found through simplicity, gratitude, and compassion.

Hardcover: $22.95

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General Book Club guidelines

Suggested Discussion Questions

Streams of Contentment is a wonderful resource for new or continuing prayer groups or spiritual study groups. The book’s second part “Five Minutes a Day: Spending Thirty Days ‘in the Country’ on Retreat” would serve the group well as a month-long process for daily prayer and reflection. It is recommended that groups meet weekly for four to five weeks, with group members reading one reflection each day and writing their answers to the reflection questions in a journal or notebook. The group may also discuss the chapters in part 1 by reading 3 to 4 chapters per week.

For the opening prayer of the meeting, you may wish to use a scripture related to the current selection, or perhaps the day’s lectionary reading. Be sure to allow time for silence at the beginning of the prayer, as this will help quiet and focus group members. After prayer time, invite members to share new insights gained from their prayer and reflection. Also invite members to discuss any difficulties they are having with their commitment to daily prayer. Following your discussion, end the meeting with prayers of gratitude and intercession from group participants. Here are some questions to assist the discussion:

1. What story or stories in the readings could I really relate to? What new insights did I gain from the book’s discussion of the story?

2. How am I more deeply grateful for my life?

3. What new insights have come to me about my journey of faith?

4. How have I been able to create a “farm” for myself in the midst of my busy days?