9780615273624Reviewed by Claudia Robinson

The Songbird In My Heart by Mark Steven Rhoads is written in two parts. The first is The Magnificence of Being, A Simple Message of Grace, a journey of self-discovery. The second part consists of Acts of Contemplation, Freedom for a Glad Heart which are a series of exercises designed to bring the reader similar results via their own efforts.

Mark summarizes his book himself, “You were born perfect and present in your original mind. You acquired an egoic personality leading to a life subject to false reality, pain and suffering. Allow your original mind to be ever present, coexistent with, and observant of your egoic mind. This is the purpose of your life, to live in the pure consciousness of your original mind. There is nothing else that you need to do, study, remember, memorize or otherwise know.” If any of the above resonates within you, no doubt you will find Mark’s book a charming cup of tea, rainy day kind of read; if whipped cream, cotton candy spirituality is not your thing, then don’t bother picking it up.

Personally, the format seemed haphazard and a little confusing. Accompanying Mark’s prose and words are photographs. I know the intention of the author was to provide the reader with something ‘pretty’ to accompany the pearls of life-wisdom he was imparting through poetry and personal experience. Unfortunately, I found it distracting, and frustratingly muddled through the book, trying to glean something from the content to apply towards my own life, while my eyes danced and bounced across the pages seeking sanctuary in simplicity.

While Mark writes from the heart and his poems are touchingly intimate, I couldn’t quite figure out the message behind the intention. Certainly he has found some comfort and peace in his life and his words demonstrate the joy and balance these offer him, but the lesson he tries to impart to his readers, the ladder to their own success, seems a tad bit jumbled and unorganized. The first part of the book reads like a diary without a time line, while the second is a how-to guide to personal bliss that never quite surrenders the key to open the door.

Sweet, winsome, unpretentious, intimate? Definitely.

Enlightening? Not so much, unfortunately.

Claudia lives on Cape Cod with her husband and two children. She entertains her passion for reading in between providing services to help empower and improve the lives of low-income residents.