THE BOOK: Hineni, My Walk Into Beautiful Life.
PUBLISHED IN: 2014.
THE AUTHOR: S. Joshua Mendel.
THE EDITOR: Penelope Jewell.
THE PUBLISHER: Ebookit.com, E-book version. Paperback version produced upon demand from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google, etc.
SUMMARY: In Hineni: My Walk to Beautiful Life, the author chronicles his journey of healing and personal growth; learning to understand and accept himself as a gifted, hypersensitive, and gay mystic.
Mismatched to the norms and demands of his family, home religion, peers, and society, the author was a depressed, immature, and fearful recluse for 26 years of his life. Contemplating suicide at age 21, he heard a Voice. Learning to listen and follow that Voice, the author set upon a four-decade journey of recovery and healing, employing a range of traditional (and untraditional) religious and spiritual thought systems. In a Vision, this nontheist, birthright Jew realized to his surprise that The Voice guiding him on his journey was Jesus.
Hineni: My Walk Into Beautiful Life is an intensely personal and frank autobiography; an ethical will of how the author became a whole, human being, and what he learned and is still learning on his journey.
THE BACK STORY: Beginning in January 2013, my internal Guide (aka The Voice) “said” to me: “You need to write about your life!” This was not a casual thought but an ongoing Call that would not leave me. I would hear this throughout my day and later, it would wake me up at night!
I made up a host of reasons and excuses for not writing; for example: “I’m a nobody.” “Nobody wants to know the maudlin events of my pitiful life!” “That would be a big job.” This was a big dodge and a holdover from my childhood: “We don’t air our dirty linen in public!” (sigh…)
As noted in my book, it becomes excruciating for me not to listen. One day in March 2013, I remember myself opening my arms, looking up to the sky, and saying: “OK I give up; so what do I write about?” To my surprise (and why do I still get surprised?), six subjects popped into my mind: 1) God; 2) Religion, Rite and Ritual; 3) Sex, Love, and Intimacy; 4) Health and Disease; 5) Life and Death; and 6) Poverty and Wealth. Six months into this effort, I heard: “You forgot something: Work.” (At the time, I thought: “What the heh, what’s another six months?”)
WHY THIS TITLE? I completed the first draft of the book (what my author friends call “the barf draft”) in late March 2014. It was a set of essays over 350 pages long and with hundreds of footnotes. My initial readers told me that there was much good (even amazing) in what I wrote, but it was not a good read. In its present state, few would take the time to glean the wheat from the chaff. One friend told me that the working title I had for the book was confusing and dead wrong for the content.
I didn’t want to hear those comments. . . and I didn’t want to rewrite something I had just spent over a year writing! But I must have been willing to listen. I was on a bus, thinking about the comment on the title of the book. All of a sudden, the word Hineni came to my mind.
The Hebrew word Hineni (“hee-nay-nee”) is found in numerous places in the Bible. It is often translated into English as “Here I am, Lord”. Hineni is the response a number of biblical figures give God when they are called to carry out something important, and often, important. Often, that Call is something that makes no rational sense. But it is compelling!
In retrospect, The Voice was telling me a lot more than a better title for the book. It was telling me that I had reached a state of Grace in the writing. From now on, this book would be Co-created. The Voice was not a bit shy in taking over the editing and creative processes. Vignettes that I had shoved in the back of chapters came forward as the drivers of the narrative. By the second chapter, I realized that Hineni was going to become the story of my life; not some dry collection of topical essays. This is a lot of words for a process that went quickly and Grace-fully. I rewrote the entire book in three months!
The “second half” of the title revolves around my Hebrew name, Chaym Shayna. That name translates into English as “Beautiful Life”. Growing into the truth of my name is the touchtone and gift of what I call my uncovery.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? This book is my testimony to the Truth that no matter how disabled and/or scarred one might be by nature, nurture, interactions with others, and life events, there is the possibility to “uncover”; to heal. More than that, there is the amazing potential to use that experience in the healing of others and this world. This healing; this gift does not from the head or from logic. It comes from a courageous opening to Spirit. . . Hineni.
The connection with Spirit is aptly named Grace, which I do NOT see in a religious context. Grace is the ability to let go and enter into an indescribable connection with Everything. I think my book shows that Grace is the natural state that exists for everyone. Nothing and no one can destroy this Truth. . . if you judge by my life, not even that person. My deepest hope is that in reading this book, the reader will find that Connection within themselves, and follow no matter how strange the Direction they receive. As I demonstrate practically in numerous places of the book, that’s when the miracles start happening!
After I wrote the book, I realized that having a mystical mind was a closet more hidden and denied by me than being gay. It is also far more misunderstood in our society. We have such mistaken notions about mystics. . . we think they are perfect people who always know the answer, say the right word, and always do the right thing—the first time. They don’t have feelings beyond love (they never get angry), and they don’t have normal human urges, including sexual feelings. My book—my life—shows that mystics are fully human, with all that that entails. I think it also shows that “being spiritual” and living full out in this world need not be in conflict.
Finally, from my editor, Penelope Jewell: This book can start a reader thinking about places s/he have been spiritually, as well as the places s/he might go. The author clearly shows that life is a journey; not a destination. That the tools and guides on that journey are personal integrity and inner guidance. And that any time or effort spent learning in any community or spiritual discipline is never a waste, because any and all efforts and understanding get incorporated in who that person is becoming. . . and we are all “becoming” until we leave the planet.
The reader is encouraged—and challenged—to ask what s/he knows and believes on the basic questions of being human. . . being a spiritual being having a human experience.
“While categorized as a gay book, Hineni is a good read for anyone on or open to an epic spiritual quest. You will most assuredly find resonance somewhere in the text and dare I say become a better person in exchange for the time you spend with it. Who can’t relate to outsider status, addiction (in this case to money), butting heads with family, and breaking away from parental influence. While Mr. Mendel dances frequently with self-importance, he mostly delivers on being a new age mystic, healer, and guru. A book that can unabashedly transform lives.” — Michael Benson, LyBrary
“Josh writes of his life openly and with honest clarity. His has been a life of learning which can teach us much if we open to listening and learning. Put your own words to the truths he shares and carry them forward in your life.”
“This book is both insightful and inspiring! I could not put it down until I read every last page from start to finish. In this masterpiece of a biographical journey, Joshua Mendel opens one’s mind in a very honest, thought provoking and poetic reflection of his life. He writes from his brilliant mind, depth of knowledge and experience (as well as sharp wit) as he is clearly a very spiritual being who speaks from the depths of his heart, of his many adventures, experiences and spiritual growth as a human being.”
“A frank and beautifully written account of self-discovery. Along the road to find out how to connect to life in a spiritual way, Mendel makes some unusual discoveries. As a refugee from a mid-western Jewish suburb, this book reminded me of why I needed to strike out on my own and meet a bigger world. But as Mendel makes clear, learning to live passionately and truthfully can be a long and sometimes dirty process- like digging in a mountain to find a diamond. Read it!”
AUTHOR PROFILE: This is my first and perhaps only book. However, I maintain a regular blog on my website, http://www.hinenibeautifulife.com.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: I published this book for a number of reasons. First and foremost, The Voice told me I needed to do that! Second, IMHO, we read too much about the lives of the rich and famous. While entertaining (and everyone has moments of challenge and inspiration in their lives), I don’t think these chronicles help most of us, or very much. In these books, we regular schlubs rarely see a clear path or a challenge to our own growth. Many readers have told me that my story is their story. That in reading the book, they have grown in their own life. . . and are being challenged to do so.
“Spirituality” is an inside job. My hope is that in reading my book, people will realize that. . . and become willing to do the work to make themselves and this world a place of peace, joy, and beauty!
SAMPLE CHAPTER: Samples can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. (Type “Hineni My Walk” in the search line.)
LOCAL OUTLETS: None at this point. If you are in the Cleveland, OH area, I have some books for sale. You can save on taxes and shipping that way.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Ebookit (electronic version only), Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google. PRICE: The ebook version is $9.95; $15.95 for the softback paper version.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: My website http://www.hinenibeautifulife.com offers a portal for sending me questions and comments.