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    A lay monastic family,  questing for  the sacred,  and advocating for children.  

Tolbert "Brother Toby" McCarrollBooks

Tolbert McCarroll, "Brother Toby," is the author of eight books. He is a monk/parent at Starcross, a small monastic community in Sonoma County, California. A former attorney for human causes, he still frequently ventures forth in response to children in need. The adoptive father of two teenage children, he has established homes for children oppressed by the AIDS pandemic in California, Romania, and Uganda.

Some Comments on Brother Toby's Writings

"A kindred spirit"
- Bill Moyers, PBS

"A uniquely moving account of a spiritual quest into the heart of darkness. Brother Toby refuses to simplify the difficulty of doing good in a fallen world. He teaches us all how to look through the broken window at the stars. A profoundly inspiring journey."
- Paul Monette, author of On Becoming a Man

"An extraordinary story of courage and love."
- Isabel Allende, author of The House of the Spirits

"A moving spiritual journey of a man with courage and creativity which leads to new forms of spiritual life and social involvement."
- Hans Kung, author of Christianity: Essence and History

". . .a deeply beautiful book."
- Madeleine L’Engle, author of The Crosswicks Journal

"I read this book, and I found I had new hope again."
- Randy Shilts, author of And the Bank Played On

" It is a story full of passion – passion that saves many lives and passion that cries out against the indifference and callousness in church and society."
- Henri J. M. Nouwen, author of The Wounded Healer

"An invitation to remake your world from the inside out."
- National Public Radio

"This is an important and magnificent book! It is clear, direct, psychologically and intellectually sound and very practical."
- Morton T. Kelsey, author of The Other Side of Silence

"Both tough and comforting. It challenges and assures at the same time."
- Mario Cuomo, former Governor of New York

"A book rich in honesty, insight and compassion ... that can make our hearts more tender, more discerning and more capacious."
- Parker J. Palmer, author of Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation


Note: Please call for shipping charges to Alaska and Hawaii.

Notes From the Song of Life by Tolbert McCarroll

"Notes From the Song of Life" by Tolbert McCarrollA Spiritual Companion
Thirty-fifth Anniversary Edition

San Francisco, 1976. The question in the air was, "What does it mean to be human in this age?" A diverse group gathered weekly in the attic of an old Victorian house to explore this question deeply and to apply facets of their personal lives. What was unique about this venture was constructing bridges: between the contemplative traditions of East and West, between psychology and spirituality, between inspiration and daily life. Facilitating this circle was 45-year-old Tolbert McCarroll, who came to be more commonly known as "brother Toby" of the Starcross Community. Urged to record some of what he, and they, "heard" from the ancient and contemporary voices they studied and their experiences with the inner world, the outer world, and with each other, he began writing reflections the morning after each meeting. From this grew NOTES FROM THE SONG OF LIFE: A SPIRITUAL COMPANION.

This book did indeed become a spiritual companion for many readers. Some used sections as a daily reflection. It was passed down to the next generation in some families. Obtaining copies became difficult. Requests for reprinting increased. Now the 80-year-old author, with minor editing and a new introduction, brings out the Thirty-fifth Anniversary Edition of what was, and is, for many a milestone on their path of spiritual growth.

NOTES FROM THE SONG OF LIFE remains as Ernesto Cardenal, the poet and spiritual mentor once described it - "Straightforward, yet fresh and new."

Notes From The Song Of Life by Tolbert McCarroll
Unit Price: $14.95
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"Seasons" by Tolbert McCarrollSeasons by Tolbert McCarroll

In Seasons Brother Toby uses the experience of the Starcross Monastic Community as a background for a month-by-month contemplative journey through the year. For a broader perspective, he adds excerpts from the 1874 Shaker Journal of Elder Otis Sawyer of Sabbathday Lake, Maine. In the manner of his popular A Winter Walk, Brother Toby again speaks to the inner monk of people leading everyday lives. His emphasis on each person’s unfolding spiritual experience, rather than ideology or dogma, becomes more important as an increasing number of people have concerns about many religious institutions but continue to value the rich heritage of the transcendent traditions that have nourished our world and our lives.

"I so enjoyed going through the seasons in Brother Toby’s new book, and followed with rapt attention his descriptions of all the months of the year. SEASONS is a very touching and heartfelt reading experience ... I will keep this book on the small table next to my bed, so that I may read it before I go to sleep, better than any pills, a kind of prayer for the living."
- Jonah Raskin: Chair, Communication Studies Sonoma State U. Author of Field Days: A Year of Farming, Eating and Drinking Wine in California; American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s Howl; and For the Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman.
"Every once in a while a book comes along which becomes a friend - a comfortable familiar person you check in with whenever you want to remind yourself who you are and where you’ve been. SEASONS is such a book. I found it offered me inspiration, refreshment and the companionship of a wise and witty fellow traveler."
- Anita Delph: Occupational Therapist, Theater Arts Musician, Senior Care Advocate.
"Once again Brother Toby has created a rich tapestry of the ordinary and the sacred. In SEASONS, he weaves early memories and reflections of his contemporary monastic life with excerpts from a 19th century Shaker community journal - all of this juxtaposed with images from our diverse, complex and vibrant world of nature. Sensitive, thought-provoking and earnest, SEASONS celebrates birth, death and renewal."
- Sharon Bard: Editor of Steeped in the World of Tea; Former Public Affairs Producer of NPR affiliate's "On the Edge and Centered."
Seasons by Tolbert McCarroll
Unit Price: $14.95
US Priority Mail: $5.00 flat rate

"A Winter Walk" by Tolbert McCarrollA Winter Walk by Tolbert McCarroll

Written by our own Brother Toby, this gem invites us to stroll through the season of winter.

His perceptive and eloquent reflections enhance and enrich our appreciation of nature’s gifts: birds, stars, rain, and above all, children. It also explores the rich history of celebrations of many different faith traditions, from Advent Wreaths to Bodhi Day, Chanukah, Ramadan, and Santa Lucia, helping us to embrace others and quietly fostering tolerance and peace. Beautifully illustrated by artist Dorothy Beebee, this hardbound book is a wonderful gift that will become a treasured part of the holidays for your family and friends for years to come.

A Winter Walk by Tolbert McCarroll
Unit Price: $14.95
US Priority Mail: $5.00 flat rate

"Thinking With The Heart" by Tolbert McCarrollThinking With The Heart by Tolbert McCarroll

The publisher wrote: "In his new book, award-winning author Tolbert McCarroll shares his lifelong quest for the sacred with spiritual seekers who wish to rediscover their ancient faith traditions yet go beyond the official church and religious hierarchy.

"'There is an old official path across the meadow of our spiritual heritage and it is still recommended by some,' McCarroll writes. 'That old path is worn out and not very inviting to most people. But, the meadow itself is fresh and vibrant, always growing and changing. It would be a tragic mistake to abandon the meadow when we reject the old path. There can be many new refreshing paths into this magnificent landscape.'

"So begins this beautiful exploration of the common legacy. But even more than an exploration, it is Tolbert McCarroll's spiritual will and testament to us, we who are seekers of the divine."

Thinking With The Heart by Tolbert McCarroll
Unit Price: $13.95
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"A Way Of The Cross" by Tolbert McCarrollA Way Of The Cross by Tolbert McCarroll; Photographs by Julie Zobelein

This little work has been used by many people to experience the Lenten season in a more personal and compassionate manner. It has been widely distributed in India and other countries. Photographs by Julie Zobelein, O.P.

A Way Of The Cross by Tolbert McCarroll
Unit Price: $4.95
US Priority Mail: $5.00 flat rate

AIDS Memoirs

These two award-winning books chronicle the Starcross experience with children living with AIDS from 1985 to 1995, a decade of intense response to the AIDS pandemic, prior to the beginning of our present activities in Africa but including the beginning of our activities in Romania.

"Childsong/Monksong" by Tolbert McCarrollChildsong/Monksong by Tolbert McCarroll

Childsong/Monksong tells the story of one special year in Brother Toby’s life, a year that took him from the Starcross Community, a monastic retreat set in the gentle hills of Northern California, to the hellish hospitals of Romania where children with AIDS were being warehoused and forgotten amongst appalling conditions.

Brother Toby recounts the dark night of his soul when even his faith was shaken by what he saw in Romania, and how with the help of two little girls from opposite ends of the world, one who dies, and one who is brought to a new life, he found his spiritual path once again. Childsong/Monksong is the beautiful story of a unique spiritual journey, and of the fears, struggles, and hopes that we all share.

Childsong/Monksong by Tolbert McCarroll
Unit Price: $13.95
US Priority Mail: $5.00 flat rate

"Morning Glory Babies" by Tolbert McCarrollMorning Glory Babies by Tolbert McCarroll

The Christopher Award-winning story of living through the seasons with the first children with AIDS at Starcross.

Morning Glory Babies by Tolbert McCarroll
Unit Price: $14.95
US Priority Mail: $5.00 flat rate


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