“Yogis use a beautiful Sanskrit word samskara, to describe the knots of energy that are locked in the hips, the heart, the jaw, the lungs. Each knot tells a story–a narrative rich with emotional detail. Release a samskara and you release the story. Release your stories, and suddenly there is more room to breathe, to feel, to experience the world.”

Devotion, Dani Shapiro’s new memoir, is a beautiful book both inside and out. Her son Jacob is “the beating heart” of this journey, yet there is something about this book that felt necessary to me, that I’m guessing will feel necessary to each of us.

“To pause. To be still–not leaning forward, not falling back. Steady in the present–not even waiting. Just being.”

And with the stillness, she writes, “I was starting to see what was there.

In the best book trailer I’ve seen, Dani talks about Devotion:

Dani has described the form of this book as “puzzle-like.” In Devotion, she quotes Virginia Woolf, “Arrange the pieces as they come,” a quote I also have on my desk. “Is there any other way to live than arranging the pieces as they come?” Dani writes. Some of those pieces: her search for meaning, her son’s illness, their post 9/11 move from New York City to Connecticut, her relationship with her mother and her ties to her father.

Yesterday I asked Dani why 102 pieces: “The book ended on 102 simply because that’s where the story ended–and I did like the number, and the roundness, the symmetry, the evenness of it–but really the arc of the story had come to an end.” The story of Devotion may be complete, but on her new website, Dani recently began a Devotion blog, where she continues beyond the book, a concrete manifestation that the journey is never over.

As I read Devotion, it was as Mary Oliver wrote in her poem, “I Want to Write Something So Simply“:

…by the end
you will think–
no, you will realize–
that it was all the while
yourself arranging the words,
that it was all the time
words that you yourself,
out of your own heart
had been saying.

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17 thoughts on “devotion

  1. I rarely read memoir, but I believe I need to read this one. Thanks for sharing the the Mary Oliver quote. I’d never heard it, but I love it.

    And, yes, that’s a beautiful book trailer.


  2. It is a good trailer with impressive blurbs. I love the image of Dani on the beach and how her child led her to her memoir. We’ve had similar issues in our mixed faith family. I haven’t read her memoirs, but I very much enjoyed her novel Black and White.


  3. I opened my blog surfer this morning and found back-to-back Dani Shapiro posts, though I’d never heard of her until this week. One of my other blog-friends, Alexis Grant (pretty sure you guys don’t know each other…yet) is hosting a Twitter chat with her later this month (Feb 21) and I thought you might be interested in that. Here’s a link to Alexis’ post about it, in case you or anyone else here is interested!


  4. Well, I love to read memoirs and enjoyed the book trailer. It was simply beautiful. So now I’m off to order Devotion, so I can read it before her Twitter chat. Thank you owlandsparrow for the information. And thank you, Cynthia, my dear friend.


  5. Pingback: Untying the knots « Out of My Mind

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