Maybe it’s the Italian in me, but there’s little I enjoy more than a lengthy, impassioned conversation, preferably over a meal. I like probing questions. I enjoy playing devil’s advocate. I delight in the feeling of spiraling around a subject, each time circling a bit closer to some unreachable core. I like ending a conversation with new ideas, and rising from the table slightly changed.
This same experience of exchange also comes when I write. My side of the conversation is born of curiosity and words and intention. I generate a draft, and then it speaks back to me with images, surprises, glaring falsehoods, brokenness, and emergent wholeness. Writing appears to be a monologue but it’s really a dialogue—between me and memory, between me and the reader, between me and Mystery… This lively encounter keeps me coming back.
Even though I’ve never known prayer as a literal dialogue—that great source of life is usually silent for me—when my prayer or meditation is good, I finish feeling like I’ve just hosted a private conversation. Even I’m not privy to the exchange. Nevertheless, I know important things have happened.
Recently I began thinking about the human journey as one long creative and creating conversation. “Aliveness springs from our making something of what we experience and receiving what experience makes of us,” Ann Belford Ulanov writes in The Unshuttered Heart. Dialogue: Giving and receiving, listening and speaking, pushing and pulling, all the while generating this vibrant web, one thought connected to the next. We can be in dialogue with our whole being, accepting what life makes of us, taking what has happened, and making of it something new. From this dynamic exchange comes aliveness—our own and the world’s. –Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew
I’m excited to participate in a public conversation with P. S. Duffy, author of The Cartographer of No Man’s Land, this Thursday, April 23, 7 p.m. Join us at The Crossings of Zumbrota for Wine & Writing: The Inner Life of Books.
I’m heading down to Faribault on April 27, 6:30-8:30 p.m. for a free reading, signing, and more conversation–at The Loft ~ Bachrach Building, 318 Central Avenue, Faribault, MN.
If you’re looking for time alone to write and the company of other writers, two upcoming opportunities are still available: May 3-7 at the 3rd Annual Writing Retreat at the ARC Retreat Center, Stanchfield, MN, and June 15-19: Alone Together: Write That Book retreat at the Madeline Island School of the Arts.
Finally, come to Listen To Your Mother at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis on May 7, 7 p.m. to hear twelve women tell the truth about motherhood.