The Sunrise of the Soul:
Meditations on Prayerful Stillness, Silence, Solitude, and Service in the Spirit of St. Francis of Assisi
The Sunrise of the Soul is the fruit of the last 24 years of an unexpected new life and a journey of transformation that took Gerry Straub from the glamour of Hollywood to the horror of the worst slums on earth.
Straub’s journey began in an empty church in Rome during a moment of grace in which the hard shell of his ardent atheism was penetrated by a spark of light, allowing him to see that God was real and loved him just as he was. Eventually, Straub felt God telling him to stop filming the poor and to go live among the poor. He now lives in a crowded slum in Haiti where he operates a home of hope and healing for 69 abandoned kids, 24 of whom are still in diapers. Straub says his journey is far from over and will never be finished. As Karl Rahner reminded us, "In the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable we ultimately learn that here, in this life, all symphonies must remain unfinished."
Living in a home with 69 kids in Haiti means that the stillness and silence needed for contemplation are virtually nonexistent. After more than four years of intense work in Haiti, Gerry began to commit himself to the rejuvenating power of authentic solitude in order to turn his attention to his own inner spiritual poverty. In the silent predawn darkness of each Haitian morning he waits, reflects, and prays. This book emerged slowly from those many lonely hours of silence.
Paperback, 256 pages.
"Gerry renounces the facile role of guilty bystander to wrestle with the dark angels of his own and the world’s sins. He is on his knees, waiting for a mercy he knows he can’t manufacture for himself, much less for those whose impoverishment cannot quickly be relieved. He has discovered a mirror for his spiritual dereliction in the thousands of faces his camera has recorded." —Jonathan Montaldo, editor, Dialogues with Silence by Thomas Merton
"In his Rule of 1221 St. Francis says that the friars can go among nonbelievers in two ways: they can simply live the Gospel among them and be subject to every creature, or if God wills it, they can go and preach the Gospel among them. Gerard Straub has chosen both options. He preaches the Gospel in his prolific writings and films, but he also lives the Gospel in his day-to-day life, particularly with the poorest of the poor, with those whom others have chosen not to see. In his latter years he has found God in the poor of Haiti, particularly in the abandoned children he found in the rubble of a real and symbolic earthquake that inspired these eloquent words:
"I do think God was hidden in the rubble of Haiti. But God was also visibly present in the arms that pulled others out of the rubble, in the hands of those who treated an injury. God is in the messiness of human life, reaching out in love to lift us from the rubble of our lives, rubble created by our faults, failures, and mistakes. God is with us in our suffering.
"This is why this book is worth reading. It tells the truth. It challenges and at the same time forgives our cowardice and lives of convenience and comfort. We read this book knowing how far we are from God’s poor and therefore from God, and at the same time we see page-by-page that we ourselves are one of God’s poor. We live broken, imperfect and messed-up lives, but, as Straub says in many different ways in The Sunrise of the Soul, God is in the messiness of our lives. And if we but reach out and lift up others in love, God will lift us up from our own self-confining rubble." —Murray Bodo, OFM, author of numerous books on the life of St. Francis of Assisi and on Franciscan spirituality and mysticism, including Francis: The Journey and the Dream, Francis and Jesus, The Way of St. Francis.