Twenty years after Episcopal priest and writer Cynthia Bourgeault first gave up her job in Maine, piled her essential belongings into an old Suburu wagon and drove out to Colorado in order to live close by a seventy year old Trappist monk by the name of Brother Raphael Robin, the author returns to update her memoirs and reflections of their relationship and time spent together.
In the opening to her book, Love is Stranger than Death (previous books include The Wisdom Jesus and Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening), Bourgeault describes the spiritual connection the two had during their short time together and prior to Robin’s (aka. Rafe’s) death in December 1995—as one which was a “conscious connection that would endure from “here to eternity.”
Despite their differing ages and backgrounds the two friends shared a mutual admiration for the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff as well as for his early followers, P. D. Ouspensky and J. G. Bennet. This common bond led to a closeness that eventually developed into a deep love for one another; though, with a sense that Rafe was already reaching the end of his life, the connection between the two intensified given their impending understanding they would not be together for long.
Whilst each of the participants in this story acted as both pupils and teachers towards one another, Bourgeault explains in her book that the greatest teacher of all was the relationship itself. She describes how the invisible thread that had drawn the two of them together took on a life of its own and initiated a series of fundamental spiritual and mystical questions so profound that it determined the path she was to follow for the next twenty years of her life.
The journey that this book describes is intimate and personal. Indeed, it is a powerful and moving account that is so engrossing that I shall reveal little of its finer details here for fear of spoiling this unique reading experience for others.
However, I can say that this is an utterly delightful, heart-warming and transformative read—one that captures your sensibilities and draws you onwards; a story to become engaged with and to allow to wash through your spirit
Anyone who has had the privilege of experiencing any sort of entwining of spiritual energies with a Soul partner will immediately identify with the emotive expressions that pour forth from these pages via the author’s pen. However, the book offers more than a comfortable foray into cozy sentimentality for herein resides a journey that enters deep metaphysical terrain: one that to a degree is largely overseen by Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way philosophy as well as by esoteric Christianity.
Love is Stronger than Death by Cynthia Bourgeault and David Steindl-Rast is a heart-warming and captivating work which I firmly believe will be treasured and deeply valued by many generations to come.