Wednesday 24 January 2018

Book Review - Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations

I have just finished reading Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations  by Richard Wagamese.

In this carefully curated selection of everyday reflections, Richard Wagamese finds lessons in both the mundane and sublime as he muses on the universe, drawing inspiration from working in the bush—sawing and cutting and stacking wood for winter as well as the smudge ceremony to bring him closer to the Creator.

Embers is perhaps Richard Wagamese's most personal volume to date. Honest, evocative and articulate, he explores the various manifestations of grief, joy, recovery, beauty, gratitude, physicality and spirituality—concepts many find hard to express. But for Wagamese, spirituality is multifaceted. Within these pages, readers will find hard-won and concrete wisdom on how to feel the joy in the everyday things. Wagamese does not seek to be a teacher or guru, but these observations made along his own journey to become, as he says, "a spiritual bad-ass," make inspiring reading.

It's easy to tell that these meditations come straight form the authors heart. Although the book is just 172 pages, I found that in each page I either found an inspiring message or something thoughtful or profound for me to ponder.

In fact I found Embers so meaningful that first thing each morning I read a page by selecting the page number by random.

Here is one of his meditations that I found both moving and inspiring:

All we have are moments. So live them as though not one can be wasted. Inhabit them, fill them with the light of your best good intention, honour them with your full presence, find the joy, the clam, the assuredness that allows the hours and the days to take car of themselves. If we can do that, we will have lived.

This is a book that I highly recommend.

About Richard Wagamese

Richard Wagamese was one of Canada's foremost Native authors and storytellers. He worked as a professional writer since 1979. He was a newspaper columnist and reporter, radio and television broadcaster and producer, documentary producer and the author of twelve titles from major Canadian publishers.

He was born in northern Ontario to the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations where his family followed the traditional lifestyle of the Ojibwa people before he was placed in foster care.

He took up writing and in 1979 became a professional writer when he became a reporter for The New Breed, an Indigenous Regina newspaper.

In 1991, while working for the Calgary Herald, Mr. Wagamese won a National Magazine Award for column writing and was the first Indigenous person to do so.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, Richard Wagamese’s debut novel, Keeper’n Me won the Alberta Writers Guild Best Novel Award in 1995. Wagamese also won the Canadian Authors Association Award for his novel Dream Wheel in 2007 and the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature for his memoir, One Story, One Song, in 2011. In 2012, he was the recipient of the National Aboriginal Achievement Award (now Indspire Award) for Media and Communications, and, in 2013, he received the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize and the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature.

Wagamese was given an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops in 2010.

Mr. Wagamese passed away on March 10, 2017 at his home in Kamloops BC. Embers was his last published book to date. He died a week after the announcement that Embers had made the short list for the BC Book Prize for which it ultimately won.

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