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Foreword by Dr. John Killinger

I have to say it. I’m blown away by this book. I’ve ready many of my friend-and-former- student Jim’s books, but this one, as special as all have been, is really special. Nobody but Jim would have thought of writing a book about the soul. Not today. The Greeks and Hebrews talked a lot about soul in ancient times, but our society has grown away from such weighty concepts. We talk instead about egos and personalities and centers of being, but not souls. To us, souls have become amorphous—mere references to our existence and not to anything more.

Jim has taken us back to a more religious and embracing concept of who we are, of what constitutes our being, and dared to write about his favorite subject, joy, as it relates to this hallowed and ancient concept. That’s what blows me away. It is a daring and enormous undertaking. By reminding us of this old and revered idea of who we are—who each of us is-it challenges us to review everything we know and feel about ourselves.

I am writing this foreword at a heavy time in history. The Covid pandemic has been wreaking havoc for more than two years. The number of deaths in the United States alone tops the one million mark. Most of us have lost at least one friend or loved one to the dreaded virus. The whole world is convulsed by its presence. The war in Ukraine has been transpiring for months. Our TV screens and constantly filled with scenes of the horror it has wrought on the poor

citizens of that valiant country. And yesterday came to news of the awful massacre at a school in Uvalde, Texas, where nineteen children and two teachers lost their lives. The air around us is palpably thick with grief and suffering.

On top of all this, our little Maltipoo named Toby has been requiring veterinary service for doggy diabetes and infection on his leg that has been slow to heal because of the diabetic condition. My wife and I are emphatic Some days we suffer more because of Toby’s condition than he does.

As I lay in bed thinking about all this in light of Jim’s book about joy and the soul, I asked myself, “How is my soul adapting to all the pain and hurt in the world right now? Can I find any joy in what I know and feel?”

The answer was, “Yes, there is a somber kind of joy in my soul, my wider being, in spite of all the horror we’re experiencing in the world. It is not a jump-up-and-clap-your-hands kind of joy. Far from it. This joy offers a kind of comfort that rises from the depths of my being, a remembrance of good times and lightheartedness before all the suffering began, and a confidence that some of these things will return when the suffering has waned and once more faded into the background of my consciousness. That will happen. It always does. I shall not forget the atrociousness of this particular time. It will remain embedded in my memory for as long as I live. The bad will be absorbed into the good again. I shall once more turn my thoughts to love and fellowship and the wellbeing I generally know in my life. My soul absorbs life and history and yet manages to remain intact and positive in spite of what is happening at this juncture in time.

I consoled myself and went to sleep under the weight transpiring around us. It was not an easy or comfortable sleep as I usually enjoy. And this morning, reflecting on it, I understand that Jim is right to remind us of the importance of the soul and the joy that informs it even in the worst times of our lives.

I stopped writing to go down to the kitchen and fix myself a cup of coffee which I usually enjoy. While I enjoyed my coffee, I noticed an unusual amount of anxiety in my heart. When it did not get better, I realized I was having a panic attack. I had never had one, as far as I know, but I recognized this one from things I have read about them and from listening to reports of parishioners through the years.

I took some deep breaths and reviewed the things that were weighing on me—the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the reports of the mass killings. The panic did not subside.

I thought about Jim’s book and something I read in it. He wrote, “We dread the dark valleys, but they are steps to joy.” They are the steps to joy because they lead us to pray, to be with God in our inner beings. And being with God, opening our selves to the divine power of healing the secret to a wonderful, fulfilling life.

Remembering Jim’s words, I stopped to have a time of prayer. Soon I was feeling better. The panic subsided. I felt at peace with God and my own life. Jim’s words were healing. There is still joy in our souls when the way seems dark and foreboding.

I hope other readers will find similar comfort in this special book. It is an important book for our time.

Dr. John Killinger

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