Dr. Mary Keator publishes book on connecting spirituality, activism and education
Dr. Mary Keator, adjunct professor in the humanities doctorate program and founder of Healthy Integrated Living has recently published a book entitled “The Soul of Learning: Rituals of Awakening, Magnetic Pedagogy, and Living Justice.”
Dr. Keator’s time at Salve Regina started when she received her doctorate in humanities with a concentration in comparative literature and maps to consciousness in the world’s religious traditions. In the years to follow, Dr. Keator began teaching as an adjunct professor at Salve Regina.
“My first book, entitled ‘Lectio Divina as Contemplative Pedagogy,’ was the fruit of my years of study and practice, university teaching and Ph.D. studies,” Dr. Keator said. “‘Lectio Divina as Contemplative Pedagogy’ emphasized the need for reading, reflection, and contemplation in university classrooms.
Published four years after Dr. Keator’s first book, ‘The Soul of Learning’ was co-written by Dr. Vajra Watson, faculty director and professor of educational leadership and racial justice in the College of Education at Sacramento State University.
In “The Soul of Learning,” Dr. Keator and Dr. Watson connect spirituality, activism and education through activities, exercises and curated readings spanning various cultures and time-periods. It was inspired by Dr. Keator’s time in India in the winter of 2019-2020, along with her many years teaching world literature.
“I was invited to teach lectio divina as contemplative pedagogy to the professors at Dev Sanskriti University in Haridwar, India,” Dr. Keator explained. “And to offer a keynote address for the First Annual International Holistic Education Conference.”
Dr. Keator explained how the true inspiration for her new book surfaced from a conversation held outside the university’s walls. “While there, I met Dr. Watson. One day while walking to sit by the Ganges River, I shared with her the opening lines to ‘The Isha Upanishad, ‘” Dr. Keator said. “‘The Soul of Learning’ is the fruit of our dialogue that began in India.”
In her book, Dr. Keator offers parables, poems, scriptures and songs as a way to guide the reader and light the path to self-discovery, healing, sovereignty, and beloved community. She hopes “The Soul of Learning” will become a trusted companion to its readers, helping them to better understand themselves and their place in this world.
“We have written it as an invitation to come to know oneself, love oneself and love one another,” Dr. Keator explained.
But Dr. Keator’s hope for her book extends beyond the individual. Through ‘The Soul of Learning,’ she hopes to reach educators, parents and policy makers, emphasizing the way in which spirituality not only encompasses education, but can inform it. She also underscores the significance of the soul. According to Dr. Keator, it’s the soul that awakens the desire to learn, deepens critical thinking, inspires creativity and builds compassionate classrooms.
Having gone through the struggles of meeting deadlines and writing through the pandemic, Dr. Keator’s dedication to the publication of “The Soul of Learning” shows the urgency that she felt to finish and share the book so that others can begin to embrace the lessons for themselves during a difficult time in the world.
“It was not just about the exterior writing process,” Dr. Keator said. “In order to write this way, we had to embody the words and live them. It was both beautiful and painful.”
Article written by student writer Taylor Majkowicz ’22