Call of the Bell Bird

Call of the Bell BirdNew edition 2015:  e-book, ASIN: B00YKL9CMC

free from some sellers. Amazon £1.99

(Quaker Books, 2004) ISBN: 9-789852-453650 £10

After nearly thirty years in the publishing world, Jennifer Kavanagh became a Quaker and changed her life. At 54, she packed a few belongings and set off with her partner Stephen on a year’s journey in the tradition of travelling Quakers, to connect with old and new spiritual influences and “to gain a new perspective, seeing how life is in developing countries, away from the spoilt affluence of this insular part of the world“.

Why would two people a few years from retirement give up a comfortable life in exchange for discomfort and uncertainty? How do you reconcile yearnings to be in the world and out of it, everywhere and nowhere? The author gives a frank and humorous account of their experiences, stormy relationship and spiritual journey.

As they travel through the Americas, the Pacific, Thailand, India, Mongolia and Russia – meeting others of like mind and heart, helping with social projects where they can – Jennifer is very much aware of how she is changed, and of how people are changed for better or worse by rich outsiders. She sees how corruption and economic obstacles impede poor communities, and reflects on the world before and after 9/11, when they were in Canada. The book is full of encounters with the most remarkable people of all faiths and none.

This is the story of two journeys:  a physical journey round the world (in the year of 9/11) and a spiritual journey. Written fast, tapping into the material in her journals, it has a strong sense of intimacy and immediacy.