By BILL DUNCAN
Strange as it may seem, of all the 20 books, mostly about spiritual subjects, June Cotner has written and published, she had never thought about centering on Reinhold Niebuhr’s classic Serenity Prayer, until her friend, Anna Johnson, suggested it.
The prayer is simple:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Cotner admits she frequently recited the prayer throughout her life. “It’s one of the most revered messages of our time,” she said, “and has touched countless lives.”
The idea for the book came when her friend was feeling “particularly frazzled and said, ‘I could use something called Serenity Prayers.’”
“The idea excited me,” Cotner said, and she collected prayers and poems to fit that theme in her latest book, “Serenity Prayers,” in hopes it would actually help readers to feel more serene and at peace with themselves and their circumstances. She said she considered more than three thousand submission that she painstakingly narrowed down to the final 100 selections.
“I had a problem,” she said. “There were too many great selections. I still find myself in awe of the synchronicity that brings me to possible selections for my books.”
She said in “Serenity Prayers,” she has combined the Classic visionaries such as Rumi, Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman with fresh thoughts of contemporary writers such as Mitch Albom and one of her favorite contributors to many of her books, Barbara Crooker.
Of those contemporary contributors, she said, “finding new ways to feel tranquil gives us more compassion and appreciation for our blessings.”
Albom, a newspaper sports writer, became a literary figure when he wrote “Tuesday’s With Morrie,” followed by several uplifting books about life and death. For Cotner’s book, he penned a three-sentence bit of prose, entitled, “An Ordinary Day.”
‘It was so simple. So average … how could he find perfection in such an ordinary day … I realized this was the whole point.”
Barbara Crooker has six contributions in Cotner’s book. My favorite is one called “Nevertheless.”
“And in spite of everything we are…our time is short, the flare of a candle, the pulse of a heart, the swirl of wine in your glass…”
Cotner, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, lives in Poulsbo, Wash. She says she has spent a lifetime collecting prayers, poems and quotes that she has included in her 26 books which have sold more than 800,000 copies.
Her fondest wish, she said, is that readers find words to soothe their soul.
(Bill Duncan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to P.O. Box 812, Roseburg, OR 97470)