Julie Ireland Keene’s Heart Prints: Walking on Holy Ground compiles sermon-style inspirational talks the author delivered over more than three decades during her work as a Unity minister and spiritual leader across the U.S.
The book is organized into seven sections, the first six defining core sacred themes—universal spiritual views, the centrality of love, overcoming life difficulties, learning to forgive, cultivating happiness, and becoming an agent of help—and the seventh section, under the format of “Ask Reverend Julie,” offers Keene’s answers to a selection of key existential questions from congregants.
Keene is a talented storyteller who uses both playful and serious twists and turns to fully examine each theme. She engagingly takes readers, through adept interweaving of stories, jokes, personal reflections, and scriptural and cross-faith references, toward deep and applicable meditations on the themes of love, justice, joy, forgiveness, and even reincarnation.
For instance, when speaking of the importance of “Divine Restoration” of oneself by releasing negative experiences and forgiving others, she draws on examples found in the Bible, psychology, and personal stories—even comparing the situation with that of a Baroque painting cleaned of accumulated grime by art restoration to its sparkling original state.
Occasionally, readers are taken out of the timeless and meditative mood when Keene’s original sermon was delivered on a specific occasion, such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day. Although the main focus is on the spiritual (and timeless) nature of motherhood, fatherhood, love, and resurrection, the reference to the holidays is jarring in contrast to the mood of the other essays that stand ever green.
Overall, however, Heart Prints is an elegant, tightly woven collection that penetrates deeply into its key themes—especially the centrality of love and its many manifestations and the important individual work of spiritual awakening. As such, Keene effectively leaves “heart prints”—lasting, positive, and inspiring impressions—on her readers.
Also available in hardcover.