In the Midst of Things

As generations young and old are challenged to find meaning, purpose and serenity in our increasingly complex and dynamic world, Calkins’ work guides us in media res (Latin for “in the midst of things”) through a contemplation of the tectonic forces that determine meaning and the quality of our lives, and how we can influence them.

In the Midst of Things is a collection of letters and essays written over 15 years, offering readers enduring, invaluable insight on a comprehensive range of universal themes, including presence, compassion, intimacy and vulnerability, loss and grief, intuition, solitude, relational harmony and grace.

Calkins delicately weaves together threads from a diverse range of disciplines and schools of thought including philosophy, psychology, Asian and Judaic spirituality, and Christian mysticism, elucidating ancient and contemporary wisdom for our lives today.

“Keeping up with the evolutionary requisites of our lives in the face of our own forgetfulness and complacency requires us to become pilgrims in a daily search for the essences of new religions, philosophies, arts and sciences. Not their outward structures, information and trappings, but the freshly acute recognition they seek to ignite. Such a pilgrimage involves identifying specific combinations of ingredients that succeed in luring the best from ourselves.”

From the preface:

“In choosing the letters and essays for this collection, I was aware of the potential challenge to readers by often delving into subjects within a similarly enigmatic framing. Much of the “who, what and where” are purposely missing, partly to keep unnecessary personal details private, but mostly to focus more completely on the immediate subjects in play. In this way, I realize that I’m placing a fair amount of faith in the reader’s ability to imaginatively associate; that is, to perceive a direct relationship between the ideas and one’s own experience, intuitively connecting dots along the line of content.

Concerning the themes themselves, the thrust is a contemplation of the tectonic forces that determine meaning and the quality of our lives, and how we can influence them. Although my vocation for the past 40 years or so has concentrated on personal wellbeing and human potential, such disciplines eventually open into the vaster realms from which they were born: wisdom and spirituality. This is as it should be as we accumulate experience and are called to look more carefully at our lives, in our evolving personal stories and priorities, and in the nature of living itself.”

Darrell Calkins
July 2020

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