“I want to merely write to enlighten mindful creativity in assisting souls for God,” intones Catholic author Steven Turnwald. “I want to represent the not-so serious, loving, responsible joy of my soul born of God. I am humble and reserved, seeing with God, all things are possible.”
These words encapsulate his book Safe Haven, a series of short essays and reflections on such topics as the Sign of the Cross, the devil, heaven, and sexuality— all of which point to an underlying current that flows through book, namely the desire for an understanding and union of body and soul. For Turnwald, paying attention to the flesh is a signpost for understanding the spirit. One way of doing this is by emphasizing the simplest prayer of all, the human breath, and the author includes a number of simple breathing exercising to help quiet the mind and “help you live out compassion.”
Turnwald is a thoughtful writer. He shines best when sharing his personal stories of past struggles, including his time in the Air Force when he battled a number of disappointments and personal demons. We find a sense of urgency here that underscores his ultimate message, namely, to look for God in all things.
His colloquial prose exudes exuberance, but his enthusiasm often hinders his message as he lets ideas run away from him. For example, in his chapter “The Number of the Beast,” he introduces something he calls the “twelve gates to heaven,” an interesting turn of phrase. Yet, Turnwald’s explanation of what he means as he jumps from idea to idea in this section moves too quickly to be fully appreciated and understood. That being said, this is less a book to be read cover to cover and more a personal prayer to God.
There’s no doubt that Safe Haven has big heart, but readers will find that it is still rough around the edges.
Also available in hardcover.