Maybe I AM Writing Another Book...
I am beginning to realize I’m writing the same book over and over again.
The time in my life, the community shaping it, the felt purpose(s) make it “a different book” in the public’s eyes. But it’s the same...next levels inwardly/outwardly. “Unrelatedly,” Meredith Minister’s book now urges me to more explicitly ground published works in the materiality of bodies and context. So as I began to reconsider/reground each of my books in my body, contexts? Same question:
How may we humans–largely dissociated, disembodied beings who are fragmented from one another–re-enter our own flesh, knowing the renewing mercies of our own bodies anew each morning, every morning, reconnecting with our very own E/earth, starved for an interdependence that sustains us all?
Back in grad school, I didn’t know to ask it this way, of course. But each book was my best attempt at the time to get back to my own body, to get inside that question for me, for those I love, for my community(ies)…
The originating moment was November 11, 1993, singing alto in Mendohlssohn’s Elijah oratorio. Indescribable joy, sacred C/communion with Mystery within and beyond me, between me and David Weadon, in the community gathered to sing wonder, praise, scripture. How does music shape or open us to receive Spirit’s insight(s)? Took me 17 years, but my ‘making sense of it’ came as a completed dissertation (2001) and then Learning in a Musical Key: Insight for Theology in Performative Mode (2017), rewritten with Christian Spirituality methods, wisdom.
The first published expression of my work, Artisanal Theology: Intentional Formation in Radically Covenantal Companionship (2009), named the ‘container’ necessary for deepening devotion and spiritual formation in community. A sturdy crucible hard to hold in congregational life, better held by educational, pastoral intentions (i.e. graded curriculum, incentives not to leave). The personal-body history unfolding at that time was my first anam cara relationship, a spiritual companionship held in place by a radical covenant of mutual learning and devotion. Other Spirit-friends then began to find me, inspiring and challenging me to grow in unexpected ways. Sadly, when the original attachment grew such that freedom for deeper learning became impossible, I relinquished the covenant, learning the dangers of attachment, as well as its gifts. The relinquishment was a necessary instruction for deepening devotion, in other words, though excruciating at the time.
My last published book-work, A Companionable Way: Path of Devotion in Conscious Love (2016), answers the overarching question in a more integrative, personal-communal way, winding the artisanal theology and insight in performative theology strands into a woven thread of interreligious learning and deepening (root-tradition) devotion in the container best suited: circle.
And now, today, I cannot get enough of works bringing theology and body back into union, with all the questions of authority, polemics, institutional-thinking, unconsciousness and fear that come with my tradition.
A tradition that systematically prefers to publish work in which bodies are elided, completely omitted.
A tradition rooted in the Incarnation of God into human flesh.
[Buckle up, birthday girl. Here we goooo…..]