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I'm currently in the midst of reading Healing the Eight Stages of Life  by Matthew Linn, Sheila Fabricant and Dennis Linn. Recommended to me by my friend Cathleen Lauer, a spiritual director and all around wise woman, the book is a real find.

The authors use the eight developmental stages of life delineated by Erik Erikson as a basis for their work. At each stage different virtues are garnered; competencies are gained or lost, leaving holes in our ability to navigate well. For example, the play age (from 3-5) offers the opportunity to develop initiative. If this is denied or stymied, an oversensitivity to guilt may ensue.
Other stages affect trust, autonomy, industry, identity, intimacy, generativity, and integrity.

What I appreciate most about the Linns and Fabricant, is their spiritual grounding as they work their way through the material. (Matthew and Dennis both come from Jesuit  backgrounds.) Several years ago, when my husband began to pastor, I learned firsthand about the importance of inner healing, and the power of forgiveness, prayer and positive affirmations of God's love and power. The prayer exercises that are offered at the end of each chapter provide good guidance for moving forward; they are specifically geared for healing of memories and patterns set during the time period covered. I'm finding good stuff for myself as I go back slowly through my life.

Unhealthy patterns keep us from becoming free, competent, and full of grace. I'm thankful for a thoughtful and careful resource to help me on my on-going quest for spiritual, emotional and cognitive health.