Ruth Cherry, PhD

Reviewed by: Anthony Aycock for IndieReader

A collection of exercises and reflections urging readers to dig deep for spiritual and emotional satisfaction.

Imagine you are a publisher. You grew up loving books and decided to make them your life’s work. It thrills you to choose an author, watch the seed of that author’s ideas germinate, and shepherd the result through publication and out into the world. One day, an author comes to you with a book idea. Basically, the author says, my book will teach readers how “to look at what is—both within and around ourselves without judgment—and to say, Yes.” If you are like most publishers, your reaction would be: um, what?

Self-help books are often hard to summarize, relying as they do on ineffable things like mind, spirit, and soul. Ruth Cherry’s book, MATTERS OF THE SOUL, seems especially elusive. She opens by describing her own inner journey, which led to her decision to become a psychologist, but she does so in the most enigmatic terms. “True healing,” she writes, “isn’t a matter of understanding, talking, and feeling, but of accessing that part of ourselves which is beyond our minds and our personalities and even the identification we give to our ‘self.’” The entire book is like this. Cherry writes a lot but says very little, seemingly expecting her readers to feel their way through her presentation, intuiting her points without her doing the hard work of making them explicit.

It would be easy for this type of writing style to go from intriguing to irritating. Yet, with MATTERS OF THE SOUL, this never seems to happen. Psychologists, Cherry admits, “have the reputation of being screwy.” They also have a reputation for putting panicked people at ease. Cherry’s voice flows through her pages like a mountain stream, melting away the reader’s cares. She says her book is to be “experienced,” and to that end, she includes exercises and reflections after each chapter. But there is another way to experience this book besides homework, and that is to let it wash over you. Don’t come to this book with expectations or preconceived notions. Just let your eyes, and then your mind, take in the calm words. If you do, you should have no trouble saying “Yes” to the things that matter.

Short on details but long on heart, Ruth Cherry’s MATTERS OF THE SOUL strives to teach readers to quell a life’s worth of inner turmoil.