Tending the spiritual lives of writers & readers.
Sometimes a theme rises up from our days, uniting otherwise random events. Consider these, from my last week:
- I’m at a parenting class on how to use nonviolent communication with our kids. Like many parents I use coercion and shaming—instinctively, impulsively—and only recently am I coming to see this. The instructor draws a flow chart: Your kid does something that stimulates you. You can go down the path of control by judging the situation, thinking up a strategy, and demanding action, or you can go down the path of connection by observing, feeling your response, identifying your need, and requesting action. I’m amazed by how hard it is to take this second path.
- I’m reading my church newsletter. The interim pastor has written a column challenging us to ask ourselves during this time of transition, “What do we notice?” Our habit is to see a change and jump to an opinion or judgment. He encourages us to first simply observe.
- I’m leading a class in a tried-and-true writing exercise: Begin with an object from childhood. Describe it in detail. Only once you’ve brought it fully onto the page, allow it to lead you to other memories. The class, as always, is profoundly moved by what emerges.
- I’m doing Centering Prayer, my candle lit, my knees on the floor. Ideas for this column pop into my head. They’re good ideas, but I remember Thomas Keating’s advice: Even should the Virgin Mary Herself tap me on the shoulder, I’m to say, “Not now, dearie; I’m doing my Centering Prayer.” I observe my thoughts then let them go.
September 15, 9:00-12:00, Writing the Sacred Journey, an introduction to spiritual memoir, Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality.
September 24-28: Living Revision: A Writer’s Craft as Spiritual Practice retreat at Madeline Island School of the Arts.
October 12, 1:30-3:30: Re-Imagining Prayer with spiritual memoir, Wisdom Ways drop-in session.
October 27: The Launch: Reimagining Publishing with Integrity, Freedom, and Generosity at the Loft Literary Center, 1:30pm-4:30pm.
November 9, 1:30-3:30: Re-Imagining Loss with spiritual memoir, Wisdom Ways drop-in session.
November 16: Living Revision: The Writer’s Craft as a Practice of Transformation at the Loft Literary Center, 10am-4pm.
December 14, 1:30-3:30: Re-Imagining Revision with spiritual memoir, Wisdom Ways drop-in session.