The Light of God’s Shadow by Jennifer Hoffmann

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Psychotherapist and spiritual director Jinks Hoffmann encourages us to listen for the divine daily call to wholeness-in our relationships and work, our joys and dreams, our messes and triumphs, our losses and grief.



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of God's


Waking up is a lifetime endeavor...

The Light of God’s Shadow reminds us through earthy, vulnerable and humorous musings, stories, and poetry that waking up is a lifetime endeavor. Psychotherapist and spiritual director Jinks Hoffmann encourages us to listen for the divine daily call to wholeness—in our relationships and work, our joys and dreams, our messes and triumphs, our losses and grief. We accompany Jinks on her journey through radiant and dark shadow, and we learn with her from the wisdom of her teachers. We grow in understanding— and in our bodies, hearts and souls—that when we welcome our vulnerability and strength, we heighten our humanity and heal our souls. By becoming kinder and more compassionate with ourselves and with one another we keep waking up and we bring healing to the world.

“Her stories and poems remind us that the Divine is meeting us in and through it all. For both those who accompany and seek accompaniment, we will find within these pages a hand reaching out to us. The hand of a sage with wide open eyes, delicately attuned ears, an ever-expanding heart, and
both feet on the ground.”

—Diane M. Millis,

author of Re-Creating a Life, Deepening Engagement, and Conversation-the Sacred Art

About the Author

Jennifer (Jinks) Hoffmann, poetry editor for Spiritual Directors International, was born in South Africa but has lived in Canada since 1966. Originally a Speech Therapist, Jinks is now a Spiritual Director and Psychotherapist. Jinks has had a book of poetry published (It’s All God, Anyway) and has had many poems published in books, journals and on-line. A devotee of waking up for over forty years, Jinks reads, writes, walks, works with her dreams, and pays attention to her daily messes and triumphs—ever in search of Mystery, all the while knowing that Mystery is searching for her.


Enter my room with me and your own inner sanctum, where, naked and vulnerable in our authenticity, we can speak from within-not about-our lives. When we ask for moment-to-moment guidance from the Great Creator we learn more about ways to awaken, to glimpse the unity. Now, with more faith in entering the dark, we receive and embrace the light of God’s darkness. Here we find harsh loneliness, the cruelty of nature, the biting entanglements of human relationships, the cold abyss of grief, mystery that can terrify. We also find unspeakable beauty, the blaze of love and community, the uplift in awe, creativity, and the Breath of Life on our cheeks. We find the courage to love, to love more, to allow the light of God’s Shadow to shine through us.

Going in and down, feeling the pain, staying with ourselves with soft bellies and open hearts, both redeems us and brings us closer to the Holy One. In the time of COVID-19, some are saying, “Focus on the positive” or “Get over it. This is your life now.” “Getting over stuff” does not work for me. I trust that grief is sacred and needs witness. Allowing pain to run its course is holy work.

One of Jung’s fine teachings was that long-term relationships are excellent—and often challenging—containers for transformation. Psychological and spiritual change may occur when anyone in a partnership—or in any family or other social system—begins to awaken in some way. When just one person begins to change, it is almost inevitable that the whole social system will be stretched, and more consciousness for all may be the outcome.

At times, we sleepwalk through life. It may be hard to stay awake to the bigness of the moment, except very briefly. Perhaps there is no brighter light but that which emerges from darkness. The more we awaken, the more we see how the whole world can shine, even in times of heartbreak. When we are openhearted with the reality of life’s darkness and our own dear imperfect psyches, we may be more able to feel the love that underlies all existence.

There may be moments when, stalking our finitude, we become simultaneously aware of the gift and the fragility of loving. It is hard not to flee at these times, for the searing meeting with another when we love from the edge of our skin can almost hurt. Open, vulnerable, in the field of love, we know that love and loss are inextricably entwined. In these moments we may experience the sacred. There is no safety once you hold hands with your God-given love teachers. If we love
unequivocally, our hearts will be broken open—more than once. The elemental and the concrete, the hidden and the revealed conjoin in rare moments. An everyday experience, like watching a child concentrate on creating a LEGO castle, becomes suspended in time, yet as
immediate as a line in the palm of your hand—everything shimmering and humming. How do we bear such love?


“One rarely encounters a Bat Bayit shel Mala, a true “Familiar of Heaven’s Household.” However, in The Light of God’s Shadow, Jennifer (Jinks) Hoffmann offers us a moving introduction to the faces of her Divine Intimate: The Beloved, The Boss, The Great Creator, The Holy, the Breath of Life on our cheeks. Drawing upon contemporary Kabbalah, Psychology and her long personal and professional experience, Jinks sacredly and lovingly illumines the corners wherein our shmutz (psychospiritual “gunk”) lies, the depths of illness, loss and feeling lost and the possibility of solace and partial redemption in the here and now. Savor her poetry and prose as you “allow the light of God’s shadow to shine” though you.”
Rabbi Howard Avruhm Addision, PhD
Associate Professor for Instruction, Temple University, Doctoral Studies Director in Jewish Spirituality, Graduate Theological Foundation, Co-editor of Jewish Spiritual Direction (Jewish Lights)
Jinks Hoffman sparkles. She radiates. Her impish wisdom, warm embrace of the full and fleeting adventure of the human condition, her childlike wonder and passionate devotion to both the unknowable Holy One and the holiness that lives and breathes between and among us, melt my heart. This collection of musings on mystical truths, parenting grown children and navigating life and death are essential for any spiritual director dedicated to celebrating the holy humanity of themselves and everyone they companion.
author of God of Love and Wild Mercy
“Reviewers sometimes write that they couldn’t put a book down as if that’s the greatest compliment. I had to put this exquisite book down, again and again, because it shimmers with a holy radiance that can only be absorbed a bit at a time. It’s the Real thing. Jinks Hoffmann is a woman who chooses and re-chooses Life in its infinite depth and breadth, complexity and simplicity, staggering heartbreak and exhilarating joy, ordinariness and extraordinariness, Holy Light and Holy Dark and allows herself to be drawn into deepening Mystery. She touches me as a human being and as a spiritual director who tends souls. In one place she writes of listening to a grandson opening a bit of his sacred story and experiencing God-tears and God goosebumps. That is my experience of reading her pithy, grounded, powerfully revealing, sacred poetry and prose. This book is a treasure.”
Mentor & Spiritual Director, Founder of the Sacramento-based Bread of Life Center, trainer of spiritual directors, soul-tender, author and celebrator of Life and Relationship in its wonderful, intimate, heartopening complexity
“Waking up, therapist and spiritual director Jennifer (Jinks) Hoffmann tells us, is her gig, her way of making life as rich and purposeful as possible. Her astounding book— with its light and darkness, joy and pain, and a lot of terror and wonder, invites readers to wake up too. Using stories, poems, personal history, other peoples’ history, varieties of religious experience, and the unsettling revelations of dreams, she speaks not from the pulpit but strolling right beside us, her arm tucked companionably into ours. Jinks brings to her elevated subject an enormous generosity of spirit, earthiness and humor, and her own special brand of irreverent reverence. And if she wants to call God “Beloved” or the “Boss,” if she wants to keep reminding us—and herself—that, for sure, “I’m not driving the bus,” we will listen, argue, learn, discuss and thoroughly enjoy the fruits of the lifelong quest of this fine writer.”
Author of Necessary Losses, Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, forty other books of prose and poetry for children and adults, and four musical plays.
“This book is very timely, given the craziness we seem to be living through. It is my cup of tea. It grants space for the traditions to speak to one another and hits upon a key and healing part of the great tradition which needs reviving today — ‘There be in God, some say, a deep but dazzling darkness.’”
is an Episcopal priest and Dean Emeritus of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. He is also an honorary canon of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. He is a prolific writer of books, articles, and editorial opinions.
“Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi told this story: one of his children came to him to ask, ‘Abba (Daddy), once you’ve awakened in the morning, can you wake up some more?’ Wake up some more with Jennifer (Jinks) Hoffmann as she invites us into her “room” through her experiences as psychotherapist, mystic, and human being in the face of two years of despair and growth. It took only 8 pages before my eyes filled with tears. It won’t take you long to feel the intense desire to walk into your own “room” to wake up some more with a new soul friend.
Mashpia (Spiritual Companion in the ALEPH Ordination Program and beyond), Meditator, Chanter, Swimmer, Baker, Savta, Midrash writer
“Jinks ‘had me’ in the first lines of the Prologue. She described her discovery of the “secret of life” only to find it insufficient and in need of more searching. Through poetry, story-telling and deep vulnerable sharing of her life experiences we learn more about her continued searching.What each paragraph does is to invite us to reflect and continue our own searching. This is a book to keep on your nightstand and read again and again.”
Former director of the Institute for Spiritual Leadership, Chicago and original member of Spiritual Directors International
“If you are looking for a guidebook to following your soul in these unprecedented times of crisis as well as in the ordinary moments of your daily life, look no further. Everything we experience—from COVID-19 to a neighbor walking their Great Dane—has something to teach us and the potential to awaken us. Jennifer (Jinks) Hoffmann speaks from within, rather than about, her experiences of darkness, confusion, and pain as well as light, clarity, and comfort. Her stories and poems remind us that the Divine is meeting us in and through it all. For both those who accompany and seek accompaniment, we will find within these pages a hand reaching out to us. The hand of a sage with wide open eyes, delicately attuned ears, an ever-expanding heart, and both feet on the ground. While Jinks won’t show you the way, she will remain at your side as you search for your own.”
Diane M. Millis, PhD
Author of Re-Creating a Life, Deepening Engagement, and Conversation—the Sacred Art
“My friend Jinks Hoffmann has written an exquisite, inspired book of spiritual teaching, in prose and poetry, related to the teachings of six of her favorite teachers. She draws courageously on the darkest times of her life, when one can sometimes learn the most. Her wisdom is deep, loving and penetrating, both challenging and enticing. As the reader, I wanted to walk this path along with her. I am eager to revisit this book in the coming years, to continue to gather its profound teaching for my own life.”
Spiritual Director, Peace and Justice Educator, Teacher of Mussar and author of From Enemy to Friend: Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace
“This book is profoundly engaging and it uniquely opens our hearts and minds to embrace the light and shadow aspects of our selves so that we become more fully human. We are gifted with ageless gems of wisdom gleaned from the author’s life experiences, insights from directees and inspirational poetry. Through the sacred bewilderment of laughter and tears, we slowly awaken to our higher self and begin to experience the mysterious glow of Presence.”
Co-founder of Interfaith Community Sanctuary and author of Spiritual Gems of Islam
“The Light of God’s Shadow does my heart good. With poetry and prose, Jinks Hoffmann writes undefended, inviting us to walk with her, savoring the bits and pieces of ordinary life, both the shadow and the light, benefited by her (positive) obsession with “shmutz cleaning”. The result? She creates windows and doorways to gratitude, and living this day with a whole heart, the permission to fall in love with God once more.”
is an author, humorist, inspirational speaker, dad, ordained minister, golf addict, and smitten by French wine. He is the author of This Is the Life: Mindfulness, Finding Grace, and the Power of the Present Moment, Soul Gardening, Sanctuary, and The Power of Pause. He divides his time between designing sanctuary gardens and sharing his practice of mindfulness and savoring this life. He lives in Port Ludlow, Washington.
“Most of us know that on any given day, or any given stretch of our life, we are bumping our way through white water rapids. Most of us would rather skip the rapids, unless we’ve booked the trip and chosen the boat and hotel. Most of us know we don’t have that kind of control.In her wise and generous book, The Light of God’s Shadow, Jinks Hoffmann makes the radically counter- cultural assertion that being in the rapids is not bad news. She shares her experiences of the healing and growth that come only through navigating the white waters with faith, patience, and courage. Sometimes barely hanging on, always embracing her vulnerabilities as well as her strengths, the light and the shadow, she encourages us to stay present with the turbulence rather than ignore or deny it. She invites us to hold contradiction and paradox, to listen deeply for what we are to learn in the upheaval. Lifting us with hope, while keeping us grounded in gritty truth, Jinks offers us a window into a life supported by connection to God and commitment to self-reflection. I am uplifted by the view.”
Teacher of Mussar and Jewish meditation, spiritual director, psychotherapist.
"Jinks Hoffmann’s book The Light of God's Shadow. Musings, Stories and Poems on Waking Up is a treasure. Hoffmann, bringing a far-reaching perspective grounded in Jewish mysticism, Jungian psychology, and poetry to the table, offers a vision that acknowledges the effort of life, while also celebrating its pleasures. She engages with the contributions of six Jewish spiritual thinkers: Arthur Green, Michael Fishbane, Lawrence Kushner, Tirzah Firestone, Melila Hellner-Eshed, and Sanford Drob, but not simply by outlining their approaches. Rather, she responds to their thinking with her own poetry as well as her own life experience which includes great darkness and great light. Hoffmann is generous in her willingness to share what she has suffered as well as her embrace of her readers as fellow travelers on the holy journey. The sacred shows up everywhere for her, and she is only too happy to offer it to others."
Susie Kaufman
Retired hospice chaplain and archivist, author of "Twilight Time: Aging in Amazement"


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3 reviews for The Light of God’s Shadow by Jennifer Hoffmann

  1. Aviva Goldberg (verified owner)

    Jinks Hoffmann’s book is most wonderful and insightful. Replete with personal reflections, humor and intelligence, Jinks shares with us her life journey of spiritual exploration, of profound moments of joy and unbearable moments of sadness. Through her own experiences and the teachings of her six mentors Jinks guides us with humor , humility and wisdom to learn from our past and live more fully in the present. Her clear, open, often brilliant prose and poetry awakens us to everyday moments of sorrow and happiness and to exquisite unique moments of the ineffable. This book is a gift to all who read and reread it.

  2. Judith Posner (verified owner)

    This book is a pleasure to read. All of the prose and poetry are accessible to ordinary readers who may not be familiar with more esoteric spiritual writings. Makes it an excellent gift for friends who may be new to the field. My favorite concept in her writings , and a thread throughout her book, is the notion of “schmutz”, a Yiddish term for dirty, trash or yucky. In Jungian terms, schmutz is what we might call a complex. Areas in which we are not conscious or clean in our awareness. And this lack of awareness tends to rule our emotions and behavior in undesirable ways. Hoffman argues that the journey of life is about becoming more and more aware and awake. It is a never ending saga about our true agency and brings richness and meaning to our very existence and to all of our relationships. More importantly, she provides many examples of how this concept has been central in her own life and the lives of some of the people with whom she has worked. She is especially forthcoming in disclosing to her readers her own foibles and follies, oftentimes with humor. These examples are wonderful teaching devices which inspire the reader to find a way to examine one’s own shadow in a more constructive light, rather than focus on shame, guilt and regret. All the while reminding us that happiness and contentment is always an “inside job.”

  3. Pam Winthrop Lauer (verified owner)

    Review of The Light of God’s Shadow by Jennifer (Jinks) Hoffmann:
    Recently I saw that Mitch Horowitz characterizes this book as a “recovery memoir”. That’s not how I think of it at all. It’s a mysticism-informed, life-sharing, wisdom book, to me.

    I read this book slowly, savoring the pages, allowing myself just a few pages each morning, trying to end each reading of prose sections with one of the poems, which poem I then began reading again the next day. The days of reading this book helped me to grow into a stronger practice that was inspired by the author. The practice of, at every turn in the day, asking “what now, my Love?”

    Jinks Hoffmann does not have a “flowers-and-rainbows” idea of God. She sees God in everything, a mysterious Unity. And yet she is so close to this mystery, walking in the Presence moment-to-moment.

    I am inspired by Jinks’ integrity in her openness to what is true, what is real. And I’m inspired by the way she brings herself back, day after day, night after night, into relationship with this mysterious Unity.

    We learn of the intensity and suffering that come into Jinks’ life over the two years in which she is writing this book – we hear the stories of what is happening, then we get a deeper view through the poems that come to her during this time.

    If you would like a book that supports you to stay in loving relationship with God, no matter what, without needing even to have any clear idea of what G-d is – this is your book. It is a gift, through Jinks, of that very Mystery.

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