In her new ‘Until Now,’ Carrie Newcomer calls all of us to sing for our lives and our communities

Click the cover to visit the Amazon page for Carrie Newcomer’s new CD, Until Now. The page also lists streaming and MP3 options. Amazon also sells Carrie’s new book of poetry that expands on themes in this new album.

By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine

What does a folksinger do without folks?

Our last ReadTheSpirit cover story featuring Carrie Newcomer was published on March 9, 2019, one year before the COVID pandemic in the United States led to social-distancing nationwide. This week, I had a chance to ask Carrie about the toll of the pandemic on her career as a performer. For many years, her life has been defined by tireless touring across North America and occasionally around the world.

So, my first question was: “What does a folksinger do without folks?”

“As happened to all of us, the regular patterns of my life completely altered. My last in-person tour happened in early March of 2020,” Carrie said in our interview. “Finally, just two weeks ago, I went out on my first in-person tour since that time. That’s a very long time to be home. Within a month of the COVID lockdown, I was spending more time at home than I had for 25 years! So the patterns of my life and the rituals of my work completely altered at the drop of a hat—like a sudden: Now, it all ends.”

While some of Carrie’s life-long habits ended for a time—new creative realms opened.

“I was very fortunate that I became involved with the start of the concert-streaming company Mandolin,” she said. Her husband Robert Meitus is a musician and a prominent entertainment-industry attorney who, during the pandemic, also was co-founding Mandolin. If you care to learn more, here is Mandolin’s own brief history.

“Because I was a sort-of resident artist as Mandolin was growing so rapidly, I wound up testing a lot of the new things they were adding to the service,” Carrie said. The company’s home base is in Indianapolis, not far from Carrie’s and Robert’s home in Bloomington. “So, I spent a lot of time with Mandolin, especially in the early days.” And, over the past year, Mandolin has turned into a meteoric success story. In June 2021, the annual music-industry awards given by Pollstar magazine honored Mandolin as the best streaming platform, as reported in Variety. Mandolin’s current concert lineup is featured here, and Carrie’s own artist’s page within that larger website lists her upcoming events.

“So, because of my connection with Mandolin, I was able to do some online concerts and workshops and that was very helpful—although it is a very different animal.”

COVID and ‘The Great Unraveling’

“A very different animal.”

The cultural, public-health, political, racial and spiritual upheavals of the pandemic have blown apart countless communities around the world. In Carrie’s new album and accompanying book of poetry—both of them titled simply Until Now—she never uses the word “COVID” or the term “pandemic.” She refers to this time of upheaval in the opening lines of her first new song as “the great unraveling.”

And what’s the good news here? Fans of Carrie’s work over the years will know that she always brings good news with the bad. The good news here is that she turns “the great unraveling” into an anthem calling on everyone to join in an effort to rebuild our world.

The opening lines of that first song are:

Here in the great unraveling,
So much of this is baffling.
When breathing feels like gambling,
Nowhere to go but here.
Things come together then fall apart.
We gather up our broken hearts,
And endings are just a place to start,
And so we start again.

We’re gonna climb this ladder rung by rung.
We’re gonna count our blessings one by one.
It’s gonna take a little grace and luck,
‘Cause baby it’s a long way up,
Baby it’s a long way up. 

“You’ve turned this into a kind of anthem,” I told Carrie. “In the chorus, when you call us to ‘climb this ladder rung by rung,’ it’s really stirring! What makes you so hopeful?”

“In a time of great unraveling, there is also a great opportunity,” she said. “As we put the pieces back together again, we can choose how we do that. We can choose how to weave our threads back together again, hopefully with a little greater awareness of where the fabric had always been a little weak.

“I understand that the pandemic is not over. I understand that we are all in a time of great suffering. I lost family members to this. I understand the pain,” she continued. “But at the same time, this is an opportunity. I do a lot of work with Parker Palmer and he talks about the possibilities when our hearts break. He says that, when our hearts break, they can shatter and wind up going in every direction like shrapnel. But there is another possibility. Our hearts can break open and, in the process, can become more open to the world. I hope that this can be a time when our hearts break open so that we are receptive in new ways.”

‘You’re just like Molly Brown’

Click on this photo of Carrie Newcomer to visit her own website, which is full of fascinating resources.

Carrie’s interplay with Parker Palmer shapes a lot of her work. In the new album, one of Parker’s casual texts to Carrie wound up inspiring an entire song about resiliency. They were sharing updates about Carrie’s work on creating new options for online streaming of high-quality music. She was texting him about the potential of online streaming.

Parker texted back: “You’re just like Molly Brown. You just keep rowing.” Molly Brown was the famous passenger on the Titanic who helped other passengers board lifeboats, eventually took an oar herself and, after she returned home, helped to raise funds for families devastated by the sinking.

“So, that text from Palmer was in my mind when I went for a long walk and I started singing about her—until that song became an homage to women who have rolled up their sleeves and who showed us the power of resilience,” Carrie said.

Between the song’s four stanzas, she breaks into a refrain that sounds like a full-force, revival-tent call to spiritual resilience. Here is the opening stanza and refrain:

I’m gonna row my boat like Molly Brown,
Picking up an oar, when the ship went down.
When she made it home, Molly kissed the ground,
I’m gonna row my boat like Molly Brown.

Pull and rest, pull and rest.
Do your best, not more or less.
Rest and pull, pull and try.
Keep asking why
‘Til we all meet on the other side.

Throughout Carrie’s new album and book of poetry, she celebrates the power of song—calling all of us to put our oars into the choral waters and row together.

Singing for our lives and communities

At ReadTheSpirit, we certainly are a part of that chorus. In fact, our publishing house has a number of books that celebrate the joys of singing. There’s an entire chapter about the importance of singing in Benjamin Pratt’s book, A Guide for CaregiversHere is how Benjamin describes the power of song in the opening of his chapter:

Music and singing have amazing restorative power in our lives. Like theater and art, music sends us soaring into new realms of the spirit while we are still grounded in our daily lives. When our daily lives are weighed down by onerous, exhausting tasks, music and dance can restore—even heal—something deep in our soul.

Throughout her career, Carrie has preached the same message. In her new book of poetry that accompanies the Until Now album, she writes an entire ode to singing. It begins this way:

Songs were never meant to be left
To “the professionals.”
Never mind the person who long ago shamed you
Or the church choir member who told you to
Just mouth the words.
Don’t worry if your i’s are dotted
And your t’s are crossed,
Or your pitches are perfectly placed.
Trust me,
If you spend today singing,
If you start by
Humming in the shower,
Then whistling while picking out carrots,
Or singing as you wash dishes,
Or walk in the woods,
Or cross at the traffic light,
You might just begin to feel
Your True Heart
Open.

And there’s that theme, often shared by Carrie and Parker Palmer, popping up again: When our hearts break, one new possibility is that, by breaking open, we may welcome the world around us in new ways.

“There are so many things happening in our world right now in such a small window of time,” Carrie said. “Beyond the pandemic, we are in a time of political upheaval, climate change and we are in the midst of a great racial reckoning, which is long in coming and has been long needed. That means: There are so many possibilities of what we might do next!

“Yes, there is pain. Yes, there is tragedy. But, if we stand back and think about it, life is like a great big ocean-going ship and it’s hard to shift the direction of that ship unless something big happens—and right now there are a lot of big things happening. This is an opportunity for all of us to shift our ship’s direction. Right now, while the pandemic continues, I hope that we can do the inner work that will inform and transform our outer work in the world. I hope that we can shift as communities and as a country and all around the world. As I say this, I think about lines in one of my new songs, When the Wolf Is at the Door.”

Part of the song goes like this:

When the old world ends,
A new world starts.
What finally comes together
First had to fall apart.
I’ve been seeing things I thought I’d never see,
There once were four, but now there’s three.
Change comes slouching in, unnamed and unforeseen,
With a quiet voice or on soundless wings.
There’s a storm like I’ve never seen before,
Rumbling like a train, coming up through the floor.
We can’t just be healed, we must be transformed.
When the sky goes dark, and the wolf is at the door. 

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Care to learn more?

GET THE NEW ALBUM and PAPERBACK. Amazon and other online retailers sell both Carrie Newcomer’s newest music—as well as her paperback book of poetry.

VISIT CARRIE’S HOME ONLINE. You’ll find lots more information and inspiring resources at www.CarrieNewcomer.com

ENJOY CARRIE’S PODCASTS WITH PARKER PALMER. They call their ongoing work together on this podcast The Growing Edge. “Parker Palmer and I started doing creative projects together for more than 15 years ago,” Carrie explains. “We’ve done a couple of spoken-word-and-music programs together. We’ve written and produced a song together. And we’ve created this monthly podcast that people can find wherever they like to get their podcasts. Before COVID, we were doing in-person retreats together on the topic: Where is your growing edge? The podcasts explore the inner work and the outer work that can happen when we step up to our growing edges. We’ve had some wonderful guests on our programs and I’m very grateful that we were able to continue doing these podcasts throughout the pandemic. If you enjoy the podcasts, you will find that some of the songs on the new album relate to those conversations.”

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Rochelle Calvert invites us into the spiritual solace of ‘Healing with Natue’

Rochelle Calvert leading a retreat prior to the pandemic.

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By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

After nearly two years of pandemic, simply opening the door to the outside world and gathering with others may seem like a daring step.

For years, Rochelle Calvert had been leading groups of pilgrims into spiritual encounters with the natural world, then her own plans for gatherings were hit by COVID concerns. Now, she is inviting all of us to get a taste of these adventures through her new book, Healing with Nature: Mindfulness and Somatic Practices to Heal from Trauma.

Plus, Rochelle has added free audio meditations, and there are  opportunities to meet her and join in her future programs. Of course, she charges for those in-person programs.

This is a good time to discover Rochelle’s work, because she is moving once again toward building a schedule of her signature in-person retreats. She is moving her home base this autumn to Taos, New Mexico—from which she plans to travel to her retreat sites across the Western states in coming years. She currently is booking guests for a November 19-23 retreat at Ghost Ranch, which once was artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in New Mexico.

(Note to readers: This is a good time to share this cover story with friends who might also be interested in Calvert’s work. You can do so by using the social-media links on this page, or even by printing out this story to share using the green “PrintFriendly” button at the end. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a friend who wants to read her book along with you and discuss it—or who might even want to go with you to Ghost Ranch.)

Rediscovering the Natural Roots of Our Faith

The central affirmation that Rochelle makes in her in-person work, her online teaching and in the pages of this book is that each of us can discover our own spiritual pathway toward healing with nature.

“I firmly believe that people need to be free to explore the spiritual paths that will bring them emotional, psychological and physical healing, so I am not trying to direct people into any one faith tradition,” Rochelle said in an interview about her book. “I want to help people to increase their capacity to experience their own faith.”

This approach is possible because all of the world’s religious traditions ultimately rest on truths that are drawn from the natural world and that continue to call followers to connect with the planet.

In 2015, Pope Francis wrote an entire encyclical on this theme, Laudato si’ (On Care for Our Common Home). The letter was so timely that the Vatican’s website crashed shortly after its release because so many people around the world wanted to read Francis’s message. Both Francis and Rochelle start by pointing out the same central dilemma. The pope begins his letter by addressing both the trauma humans are inflicting on the planet—and the trauma humans are experiencing in our own hearts, minds and spirits. The two are eternally related, he argues.

Similarly, Rochelle devotes her entire book to encouraging healthy responses to our collective trauma through a deepening relationship with the natural world. Rather than a lone voice crying in the wilderness, Rochelle’s new book is part of a global chorus, now.

And yet, in a number of ways, her approach also is unique.

Healing Our Many Forms of Trauma

Rochelle certainly is not alone in zeroing in on “trauma” as one of the central sources of the anxiety, conflict and violence we experience daily in our communities. For example, over many years our online magazine has recommended books by Dr. Robert J. Wicks; most recently his The Tao of Ordinariness was the subject of a cover stories. Then, Mindy Corporon, author of Healing a Shattered Soul, is now devoting her professional efforts to Workplace Healing, a project to assist employers in responding to the many traumas experienced in the lives of their employees.

So, then, why are we so strongly recommending Rochelle Calvert’s book and her ongoing work?

Because she is charting new territory with her series of outdoor retreats that take participants to many different locations around the West—as well as adapting those practices to outdoor experiences that readers can develop at home or close to home. As a writer and teacher, she is always thinking about adaptive strategies. She’s a fresh and compassionate voice.

The stories in the pages of her book ring true, because she has distilled them from her own, unique, real-world experiences.

She also is solidly grounded in her field. In the book, Rochelle defines “trauma” in terms summarized from leading international sources. You could find a similar definition, for example, in books by Dr. Wicks. Here is an example in Rochelle’s words, from page 2 of her book:

Traumatic experiences come in many different forms. The psychological community has classically defined traumatic events as including natural disasters, serious accidents, terrorist acts, war, combat, rape and other violent personal assaults. But trauma also can arise from experiences of loss of control, like medical trauma (including life-threatening illness, surgeries and childbirth) and the loss of a loved one. Betrayal, racism, bullying, abuse of power, helplessness, political unrest, pandemics and the climate crisis may also be traumatic experiences for an individual or a society.

In our interview, Rochelle explained, “Through my work and now through this book, I hope that people can learn to wake up and heal from trauma. To help people become healthier, I am encouraging spiritual practices with nature. I’m hoping that people begin by tasting these experiences and that they go on to develop their own unique way of healing through reciprocity with nature.”

In fact, as her book explains, the complex and timeless forces within the natural world can teach us a great deal about resiliency and recovery from trauma. In her opening pages, for example, she describes how the living creatures within the natural world try to regenerate after a disaster. Those regenerative forces often spring from the heart of that trauma.

In her book, she writes:

This is where the wisdom of the natural world can help. Nature has an intrinsic tendency to thrive, and it always works with and toward a traumatic or difficult experience to find a new way of being and restore health. We can see this in the way a tree grows back after a limb is torn off by the wind, or a tiny patch of grass grows up through a crack in concrete.

In 16 chapters across 288 pages, then, Rochelle lays out many of the principles she has found effective in her work with people over the years.

As a powerful bonus, she also adds links to audio meditations that readers of her book can download to enhance their reading experience.

THE AWARENESS OF A CAREGIVER

Over the years, our ReadTheSpirit magazine office has received dozens of review copies of new books about sources of spiritual renewal that humans can find in nature. After all, the idea stretches all the way back to the first book of the Bible, as Pope Francis points out.

What makes Rochelle’s book distinctive within this ongoing flow of books? One welcome feature of Rochelle’s book is that she writes with a veteran caregiver’s concern for readers who are not in perfect health. Countless other books seem to assume that readers are fit and flexible and capable of tackling all manner of outdoor activities. Within the opening sections of Rochelle’s book, she makes a point of stressing that not everyone is capable of every experience.

In a section called “Challenges of Attending to the Breath,” for example, she takes time to address readers who may have breathing concerns, including asthma. This may seem like a simple point, but this kind of real-world compassion for the wide range of our physical bodies is rare in such inspirational books. In a section on “Body Awareness,” Rochelle takes time to encourage readers to approach the ideas she is sharing with “an attitude of kindness and compassion” toward the limitations of our bodies.

‘TASTING WHAT IS POSSIBLE’

“This concern that you are picking up in my book is intentional and I’m glad you’re highlighting it,” Rochelle said in our interview. “For example, I’m a huge proponent of building from small steps until we gradually build up our capacity for some of these bigger experiences. Especially if people are working toward healing from challenging experiences in their lives, like trauma, then we don’t want to start by trying to sit with that in meditation for two hours right out of the gate. That’s probably going to flood us, to overwhelm us and to cause turmoil.

“What I’m encouraging is that people begin by tasting what is possible, like tasting the fruit of new life,” she continued. “We might even start with just five minutes of stepping outside into nature and opening our sensory doors to nature—and that short experience may start a ripple effect that can build day after day. We often undervalue how beneficial even short periods of time can be, especially if we welcome them, build on them and let them take their course in our lives.

“With small increments, we can move from that first tasting to build, day by day, toward real change in our lives and real healing.”

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Care to Learn More?

GET THE BOOK (and the links to audio meditations that are in the book). Healing with Nature: Mindfulness and Somatic Practices to Heal from Trauma is available from Amazon and other online retailers.

VISIT ROCHELLE’S WEBSITE. In our interview, Rochelle explained that some sections of her website, NewMindfulLife.com, will be updated through this autumn—but the website does contain a wealth of current information and resources. While some areas of the website still are being updated, one current page lists Rochelle’s upcoming schedule. The website also explains how to get in touch with Rochelle, how to sign up for some of her free content—as well as how to register and pay for future programs.

WATCH A BRIEF VIDEO:

 

 

 

Our authors would like to meet you and your friends to help spark healthy discussion

Three Books to Unite and Heal Communities

A RARE OPPORTUNITY TO JOIN THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION 

By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine

A month from now, thousands of congregations nationwide will be kicking off virtual fall seasons of programming, complete with small groups and classes. Half a year into the pandemic, congregations now are well-equipped to offer online-streaming groups, many of which enjoy talking about inspiring new books as they gather.

This week, we are highlighting three authors who willing to help you lead and inspire those groups. Larry Buxton, Lucille Sider and Ken Whitt are offering to:

  • Appear by zoom (or your preferred streaming service) before your discussion begins to provide an opening talk that can enrich your experience—and that might even draw more participants to your group to hear their helpful and hopeful messages.
  • Appear by zoom during your opening discussion to introduce the timely themes in their new books.
  • Appear by zoom toward the end of your discussion series for a Q and A “time with the author,” once you’ve already had a rich discussion of their books.
  • FINALLY, A SPECIAL NOTE TO CLERGY—Most clergy nationwide are part of small groups that meet occasionally to discuss everything from upcoming sermons to creative planning for families and Christian education. All three of these authors are willing to zoom with such planning groups as expert resources in a Q and A format—or to help spark creative planning for the new year.

BE AMONG THE FIRST IN THE NATION

Two of the three books we are highlighting today will not even be published until later this year. As a publishing house, we are issuing this rare public invitation to contact us directly to order early, pre-publication copies you can read and discuss. If you do order books from us and participate in one of these zoom options—then, you and your friends will become part of the emerging national discussion on these timely themes.

If you do choose to become one of the first-in-the-nation discussion groups, we want to hear more from you! We want to hear your ideas, insights and responses. We want to share them with others. If you choose, your voice and that of your congregation can be amplified through coverage of your experience in this online magazine. This is truly a unique opportunity to raise encouraging voices in our troubled world.

MAKING A REQUEST IS EASY

Just email us at [email protected]

LARRY BUXTON
and 30 Days with King David on Leadership

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page. However, if you want to order early copies of this book, before the mid-September publication date on Amazon, contact us directly at [email protected]

The Rev. Dr. Larry Buxton is a veteran teacher, leadership coach and long-time pastor. Larry serves on the faculty of Wesley Seminary, Washington, DC. During the fall season, Larry also will be launching a weekly, free “Leading with Spirit” video series that you, your friends and your small group will want to enjoy on a weekly basis. Your congregation can form an inspiring, ongoing relationship with this master teacher.

What’s in the book? In turbulent times, King David united a nation—and his hard-earned wisdom can bring us together today. This new 30 Days With book offers a month of readings. PLUS: A convenient discussion guide for small groups is included in the book.

Buxton’s book is a call for all of us to remember values that unite us. Answering that call in the opening pages are two nationally known political leaders—one a Democrat and one a Republican, who came together in these pages to urge all of us to read these 30 short stories drawn from David’s often tragically learned lessons about life.

An internationally known Bible scholar on the story of David, Wesley Dean Emeritus Dr. Bruce Birch, encourages congregations to enjoy and learn from Buxton’s book. Why? Because this triumphant-and-troubled hero from the Bible still can bring people together.

Is your community interested in interfaith dialogue this year? As a sacred figure, David is revered to this day by Jews, Christians and Muslims around the world.

CARE TO LEARN MORE?

Watch the video trailer for this book, which lists the core values covered in this new book about David. You can easily share that short video with your friends to spark interest. You’ll find that video in our Front Edge Publishing column about Larry’s book. Or, you can easily grab a shareable link to the video from YouTube itself.

Read—and share with othersthe Foreword to this book by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a prominent Democrat.

Read—and share with othersthe Preface to this book by Andrew Card, a prominent Republican. Together, these two opening letters to readers—included in the book—demonstrate why David can bring people together across the deep divisions that seem to be polarizing Americans right now.

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LUCILLE SIDER
and Light Shines in the Darkness

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page. However, if you want to place a group order, feel free to contact us directly at [email protected]

The Rev. Lucille Sider is a clinical psychologist and a clergy-person who earned both a master of arts in religion from Yale Divinity School and a master of science from the University of Kentucky. She was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Northwestern University in the fields of psychology and religion. Lucille was licensed as a clinical psychologist and became a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. She is an ordained minister by the First Congregational Church, Evanston, Illinois.

Lucille is a master storyteller, teacher and workshop leader. She courageously shares her own experiences in coping with sexual abuse and mental illness in her family. Then—just as she does in the pages of her helpful new book—Lucille is able to step back as an expert counselor and talk about ways families can protect the vulnerable and the ways adults who are still suffering the trauma of long-ago abuse can seek help.

Why is Lucille’s book so important in the midst of this pandemic? Because headline news reports throughout the summer say that abuse has risen during COVID-19. One example is an NBC News analysis of data from 43 states as well as the advice of experts in coping with abuse. NBC concludes that experts are alarmed by what seems to be shaping up as “an unseen surge in abuse behind closed doors due to COVID-19 related unemployment and financial strain.” Lucille’s message is that unseen trauma can fester for many decades in families, if we do not intervene and seek help.

Does this sound like a disturbing topic to raise in your congregation? On the contrary, this often turns out to be a warmly welcomed healing opportunity. You may be surprised, if you get a copy of Lucille’s honest-and-uplifting book and read it—then, invite men and women in your community to a group discussion of these issues. Millions of adults—including older adults—still struggle with the trauma of sometimes long-ago abuse. Some of those survivors are living in your community and may welcome a chance to find fresh insights and support.

Because Lucille’s book debuted before the other two books featured in this article, she already has experience with small groups where participants have been moved both by her story—and the constructive and compassionate wisdom she shares.

PLUS: A convenient discussion guide for small groups is included in the book.

CARE TO LEARN MORE?

Read our story about the launch of Lucille’s book.

Read this column by Lucille about some of the early group appearances she made before the COVID-19 shutdowns.

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KEN WHITT
and God Is Just Love

For information on the availability of this book, email us [email protected]

The Rev. Ken Whitt’s book is not yet listed in Amazon for pre-sale, but will appear in the most popular online bookstores this autumn. Meanwhile, readers will be able to order books and receive them even before the official Amazon launch date. So, if you are interested in a visit from Ken, email us at [email protected] and we will let you know what’s available based on your schedule and the production timeline.

Ken is the Executive Director of Traces of God, a spiritual formation ministry founded after his retirement from 40 years of service to American Baptist Churches (ABC/USA). Ken’s ministries have focused on nurturing children, youth and families, mission trips, prayer and justice building. Through the ABC, he served on the General Board, the Board of International Ministries and the National Minister’s Council. His love of global diversity extends throughout his entire life from the communities with which he works—to the global variety of woods that fill his woodworking shop. Ken has four children and 11 grandchildren. His wife, Kathy, is a stained-glass artist, weaver, gardener and spiritual director.

What’s in the book? Ken’s full title is, God Is Just Love—Building Spiritual Resilience and Sustainable Communities for the Sake of Our Children and Creation. He likes to describe it as “a big book.” Here’s what he means: This book is big on hope—and even bigger on love that supports everyone who is concerned about the future world our children will inherit. Because of the big challenges we all face—from climate change to ever-deepening poverty in many regions of the world—we need to share big ideas and make big decisions. Ken invites his readers on a journey toward solutions where God’s guidance is our compass.

Because Ken has years of experience working with multi-generational groups, his book has lots of great ideas for adults to participate with children through stories, songs, art projects and especially stepping out into nature. The cover of his book illustrates a central story he shares of families looking up at the starry night sky with their children.

PLUS: His book closes with a list you’ll definitely want to share with your congregation of 100 Things You Can Do with Your Family right now.

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Questions about abuse and mental illness are urgent. That’s why Lucille Sider is on the road.

Lucille Sider, author of Light Shines in the Darkness, talks with Pastor Will Beverly at St. James Community Church in Chicago.

CHICAGO—Lucille Sider, author of Light Shines in the Darkness, talks with Pastor William Hall at St. James Community Church.

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By LUCILLE SIDER
Author of Light Shines in the Darkness

Front cover of Lucille Sider's Light Shines in the Darkness

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

“Where should I seek help if I have been abused?”

“What are the similarities between the consequences of sexual abuse and mental abuse?”

“Are the police likely to listen to a person who has been abused—or are they prone to subtly suggest that you were inviting the abuse in some way?”

“Who can I call if someone I care about has signs of mental illness due to sexual abuse?”

These are just some of the questions people are asking as I travel to talk with groups about my own life story, as told in Light Shines in the Darkness: My Healing Journey Through Sexual Abuse and Depression.

Confronting Sexual Abuse:
As Urgent as Front-Page Headlines

Just open a newspaper or Google News any morning for headlines in this urgent national conversation about the long legacy of abuse as well as the challenges of mental illness. You don’t have to look far for headlines on Jeffrey Epstein, Larry Nasser, Jerry Sandusky and the coverup in many quarters of the Catholic Church. The ever-growing list includes famous (and previously unknown) women and men.

In particular, there are stunning numbers of women coming forward in front-page headlines with important accounts that have been hidden for years.

Inspired by the pioneers in the #MeToo movement (women including Alyssa Milano and Ashley Judd), others have now courageously told their stories (including Oscar-winning actress Sally Field and best-selling Christian historian Diana Butler Bass). Of course, all those are famous names.

Among the previously unknown women who have stepped forward is Col. Kathryn Spletstoser, who just went public this week with her report about sexual abuse by Gen. John Kyten. She went public, she says, because he is on the verge of confirmation as the military’s second-highest officer. It was Kyten’s nomination that finally prompted her to go public, she told The New York Times. Spletstoser is still in the midst of a deeply emotional national debate over her report. She was following in the footsteps of Senator Martha McSally who finally reported in March that she had been raped at the U.S. Air Force academy 30 years ago. McSally did not name her abuser, so side-stepped some of the furious push-back coming at Spletstoser from supporters of the general.

Whatever the outcome, there is simply no way to ignore the widespread problem.

As I point out in my book: “Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Meanwhile, only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.”

Traveling and Talking about the Healing Journey

BINGHAMTON, NEW YORKLucille Sider talks at Tabernacle United Methodist Church.

So, I am traveling and talking about my story, my book—and the help that is available in many forms and from many sources. My journey can be both painful and inspiring.

I am on the road because I can tell from the people I meet that my message ultimately can be a catalytic moment helping many others along their own healing journeys.

For example, I gave a 50-minute overview of my book at Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Binghamton, NY. Among the key issues that I stressed were:

  • the relationship of sexual abuse and mental illness,
  • the devastating consequences when secrecy is maintained,
  • and, the psychological and spiritual practices that help me remain stable.

“It is important that you clearly understand that, while I say I am on a ‘Healing Journey’ in the subtitle of my book, I do not think of myself as ‘healed’,” I told the men and women who had gathered at Tabernacle.

“I think of myself as ‘stable’, but that depends on maintaining many practices, which I describe in the book,” I said.

Searching for Stability after Abuse:
Bringing Many Practices Together

I listed some of the disciplined practices that bring stability:

  • taking psychiatric medication,
  • practicing meditation,
  • receiving psychotherapy,
  • attending church
  • and, spending considerable time in nature.

“Even with all of this, I still suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD,” I said.

Following the presentation I answered many questions, including some of those I have listed above. I urged people to consider talking about these issues with friends. They could begin by using the Study Guide that is included in the book.

The audience not only gave a long applause but many also bought my book and were eager to have me sign it. I was deeply moved by the experience—and I could tell many of them were, as well.

A New Calling:
Helping Others to Confront Legacy of Abuse

On July 7, I was back in the Chicago area, where I live. This time, I spoke at St. James Community Church, which is largely African American. I was interviewed by Pastor William Hall at the beginning of the worship service.

“How did you come to write your book?” he asked.

“It wasn’t my idea,” I said. A friend who knew my story asked if she could produce a play about me and, when we sought professional advice about this, we were advised that my story really should be presented in a book first. That started me on the long process of writing Light Shines in the Darkness, which was published earlier in 2019.

“The found that the writing was very healing for me,” I told the congregation.

As I do in the pages of this book, I not only told my own story at St. James—but was able to step back and analyze it from my perspective as a clinical psychologist and clergywoman.

I can already see from the reception of this book that the whole process is becoming a new “calling” or “mission” to share the story as a doorway for others to move toward healing.

At the end of our time together, the pastor asked if he could pray for me. Of course, I agreed. Then, I realized that the whole congregation was literally reaching out to me, both audibly and physical reaching out to share in the pastor’s fervent prayer.

I left feeling refreshed and inspired, knowing that this congregation was praying for me and thus enabling me to carry out the mission to which I have been called.

.

Care to Learn More?

GET THE BOOK—Lucille’s book is available from Amazon in Paperback or Kindle, as well as in a Hardcover edition. Prefer to shop at Barnes & Noble? They’ve also got the Paperback and Hardcover.

DISCUSS THE BOOK WITH FRIENDS—There’s a free Discussion Guide included right in the book, plus information about national resource groups, websites and hotlines.

CARE TO SCHEDULE AN APPEARANCE? Visit Lucille’s Resource Page for Light Shines in the Darkness, which is part of our Front Edge Publishing website.

Clinical psychologist and clergywoman Lucille F. Sider earned both a master of arts in religion from Yale Divinity School and a master of science from the University of Kentucky. She was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Northwestern University in the fields of psychology and religion. She is an ordained minister by the First Congregational Church, Evanston, Illinois. 
Lucille was Executive Director of The Samaritan Pastoral Counseling Center in Evanston, Illinois. While there, she was licensed as a clinical psychologist and became a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. Lucille is now retired but remains active as a volunteers in the Lighthouse program at Edgewater Presbyterian Church in Chicago and also at two retirement communities, focusing on people with memory disabilities. She also is a popular speaker, writer, teacher and workshop leader.

Retired bishop John Spong on rediscovering Matthew’s Jewish roots

John Shelby Spong wearing the garb of his 21 years as an Episcopal bishop. (Photo by Dick Snyder; used with permission.)

By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of readthespirit.com

Spring is the perfect season to explore John Shelby Spong’s new book, Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy. First, look past the book’s title—those words are a publisher’s way of reminding readers of the controversy retired Bishop “Jack” Spong has sparked throughout most of his career. Yes, this new book is a provocative re-interpretation of gospel stories and some Christians will disagree with Spong, as usual.

But, there’s so much more than mere “controversy” in this book!

What’s so fresh and fascinating about this book is its in-depth look at the Jewish roots of the Christian gospel of Matthew. That’s perfectly timed reading for the season that includes Easter (Western Christians have celebrated; Eastern Orthodox will soon) as well as Passover. This is a time, each year, when interfaith relationships blossom. Most Jewish communities nationwide offer some kind of friendly outreach to Christians who want to understand the Passover seder from a Jewish perspective. Most Christians, after all, traditionally say that Jesus’s Last Supper was a seder meal.

“Book titles are funny things,” Spong said with a chuckle as he discussed this new book in a recent interview. “I guess I fight about book titles with my publisher more than we fight about anything. What I’m really working on in these books is ‘The Gospels as Midrash,’ but Harper doesn’t want anything to do with that kind of title.”

I asked Spong, “How many non-Jewish Americans know that term midrash? I’m not sure as a journalist that I’d be able to explain it fully in a sentence. I’d probably say: Midrash is a traditional Jewish process for interpreting scripture by exploring tangents and connections with the basic text. And that’s what you do with Matthew in this new book—it’s one of your best books, I think. But putting ‘Midrash’ in a title for general readers? As a publisher myself, I wouldn’t recommend that.”

And he chuckled again. “Yes, you’re probably right. And Harper was right. But we go round and round about titles sometimes. I am glad you understand what this book is about. I have written about this general subject before, but this time I really look at Matthew in a new way.”

If readers look beyond the front cover, they will find that the book has a second and more descriptive subtitle: “A Journey into a New Christianity through the Doorway of Matthew’s Gospel.” That gets closer to the unique look at Matthew Spong offers in these 400 pages, but not entirely.

This book really is a midrash on Matthew, connecting Christian readers with Jesus’s Jewish world in a new way. Spong ultimately draws a new kind of Christian message at the end of the book. But, he also draws on a number of notable Jewish scholars in his research and it’s likely some Jewish readers will be intrigued by the many connections Spong makes.

Cover of Biblical Literalism by John Shelby Spong

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

If you’re wondering whether such an ambitious idea makes sense—writing a book that might interest both Christian and Jewish readers—we can say: Spong knows knows something about his audience.

In fact, this particular book was born after Spong was invited in 2014 to present five days of lectures at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. How many people showed up? Ten thousand!

By his estimate, about a quarter of those men and women who attended his lectures were Jewish. It was truly a five-day interfaith gathering. His subject that year was the Jewish context of the gospel of John. And the enthusiasm for his lectures led him to dig deeper into the other three gospels. The result is this book that walks readers through Matthew from a perspective most Christians have never considered.

Spong argues that nearly 2,000 years ago the gospel known as Matthew was written for early Christian churches to read and remember the key events in Jesus’s life—as organized in a pattern following the annual calendar of Jewish festivals. Spong credits the late British Bible scholar Michael Goulder with writing about this notion in a persuasive way—convincing enough to lead Spong to devote years of study to expanding on Goulder’s ideas.

“I’ve included ‘Michael Goulder (1927-2010)’ in my dedication of this new book,” Spong says. “Most Americans haven’t heard his name, but among Bible scholars, he was so important. I discovered his work back in the 1990s when I was doing research on the gospel birth narratives at Cambridge. I remember buying this massive book Goulder had published and it really was tough sledding going through his work. But one of his big contributions was this idea that the gospels were organized around themes in the Jewish year.”

What does that mean? Regular Bible readers know that there are many references to Jewish customs and festivals in the New Testament. What Goulder theorized and Spong now unfolds in detail for general readers is the idea that the actual order of the stories from Jesus’s life in Matthew are sequenced to be read against the backdrop of a Jewish calendar.

This new book is about 400 pages, describing how this connection between the faith traditions could help modern readers rediscover fresh inspiration from scripture. Some early Christians were gentiles, non-Jews who converted to the new faith and had no background in Judaism. But many early Christians were experienced in both religious realms. Imagine how much deeper some of Matthew’s stories would unfold if read against traditional Jewish reflections on the seasons and religious festivals.

JESUS, JONAH AND YOM KIPPUR

Here’s one small example: Christians reading about Jesus’s arguments with critics in the 12th chapter of Matthew are likely to read right over the scene in which Jesus tells his critics that they don’t fully understand the story of Jonah. Gentiles unfamiliar with Judaism probably recall Jonah as the ancient prophet who was swallowed by a big fish. Christians who regularly study the Bible may remember more about Jonah and his mission to make the wayward people of the town of Nineveh repent of their sins.

“But I’m sure most Christians reading that passage—or hearing it read—are thinking: What’s this sudden reference to Jonah? Why is Jesus talking about Jonah?” Spong says. “If we don’t understand the structure of Matthew, it’s just something we read and forget about, isn’t it?”

But in the middle of Spong’s book, readers will discover why that reference to Jonah is such a poignant moment in Matthew—and how that passage of Matthew must have sparked deep spiritual reflection in early Christian congregations with Jewish roots.

Jewish readers will know that the text of Jonah is read, each year, on Yom Kippur. In fact, it’s a common topic for Jewish inspirational writing and teaching each year. Here’s one example of a column from ReformJudaism.org, offered as inspirational reading in the High Holidays.

“When people read my book, they’ll learn that just before Matthew 12, where Jesus talks about Jonah and we get this connection with Yom Kippur—just before that in my book, I look at the ways Matthew 11 relates to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year that leads to Yom Kippur,” Spong says. “And after that section of my book, then I write about how Matthew 13 relates to the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. These are connections that I think most Christians have never considered while they’re reading Matthew.”

Of course, there’s a lot more to Spong’s argument in this book, which takes all 400 pages to unfold. Step by step, his argument leads to his interpretation of the meaning of Jesus’s death—once again placing his theology in contrast to preaching about Jesus’s crucifixion that is more typical in evangelical churches. For many years, Spong has called for a rethinking of these basic Christian teachings.

‘TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF CHRIST’S MESSAGE’

Some critics charge that Spong himself is a heretic—and no longer is a Christian. He rejects that charge and, in books like his latest, says that it is preachers who take the Bible literally who have abandoned their Christian roots.

“I simply want to help people see the truly transformative power of Christ’s message,” Spong says. “And, in this book, I point out that it’s right there in Matthew, if only we know how to read Matthew.

“The early followers of Jesus had to use words to describe and explain what really is beyond words,” he continues. “It’s our error today if we take those words, which can tell us so much, and force a literal reading that really imprisons Christ in a way that was never intended.”

And, in those words, Spong is echoing the final pages of his new book, where he writes in part:

The gospel of Matthew is about human beings discovering the divine that is always in our midst. It is about the divine calling and empowering human life to break the boundaries that imprison us in a warped sense of what it means to be human. It is about setting aside boundaries that we have created in our human quest for security. It is about stepping beyond those boundaries and into the meaning of God. It is about discovering the human in a boundary-free world.

In Spong’s new book, Christian and Jewish readers likely will find fascinating, fresh interpretations of these ancient gospel stories. Agree or disagree with Spong’s larger theological arguments, he says that nevertheless, “After you consider what I’m describing in this book, I don’t think you’ll be able to read Matthew in the same way, again.”

Peacemaker Daniel Buttry publishes his best inspirational true stories

We Are The Socks book large (1)

Click the cover to learn more about this new book in our ReadTheSpirit bookstore (including a convenient Amazon link to order your copy today).

What a strange name! We Are the Socks

So, first, you may want to hear and see Daniel Buttry tell the surprising story behind this book’s title in a YouTube video that we are sharing with the world. (Although very busy with his global peacemaking work, Dan also occasionally is available for public appearances. The new video gives you a good feel for his lively speaking style.)

What will you find between these covers? Here is how Dan’s colleague in peacemaking, Ken Sehested, describes this new book:

What Dan Buttry does in We Are the Socks is what he does better than anyone I know: Write vivid, easy-to-read narratives that are hopeful but not sentimental, honest but not cynical, revealing without being voyeuristic, personal without being self-serving, sometimes humorous but never silly. And the people he writes about …mostly are commonplace folk, drawn from every sort of circumstance.

‘PEACE WARRIOR’

Dan sometimes describes himself as a “peace warrior.” One meaning of that phrase is Dan’s ongoing struggle with perceptions of global threats and violence from Hollywood, TV networks, newspapers and magazines. He’s not a media basher, but he says, “So much of what we see and hear and read, these days, is governed by fear and is trying to set people up in adversarial situations.

“We need to discover the counter-narratives—news about the many ways people are building up communities and bringing hope to the world. Our traditional media isn’t all bad; sometimes we do get these more hopeful, positive stories. But we need many more of these stories from many parts of the world to give us hope—especially in places where conflict seems intractable. I think readers will be surprised to learn that there are stories of hope even in the middle of the toughest conflicts around our world.

“Many of the stories in this new book are unknown. They’re not in the spotlight. I worked hard, in planning this new book, to give readers stories of hope from all around the world.”

Here’s how singer-songwriter and author David LaMotte describes the new book:

As Dan so compellingly shows us, there is more than one kind of hope. Yes there is naive hope, based on inexperience with hard realities, but there is also a thicker, richer hope that is born of knowing those hard realities intimately, and experiencing the light that can shine in those dark places.

RIDING THE BUS TOGETHER

Throughout his life, Dan has followed a number of customs that also are part of Pope Francis’s life. In following recent coverage of Francis’s life and teachings (check out our cover story on Francis to read more about the pontiff), Dan was struck by the fact that they both share a commitment to using public transportation.

“Before he was the pope, he made sure that he was close to ordinary people on a daily basis. Instead of driving to his office as a bishop, he would take mass transit,” Dan says. “I remember when I was a denominational executive for American Baptists, directing peace programs, I went to work by bus and usually I could tell that I was the only executive on the bus. I shared seats with hotel workers, laborers—working people, nearly all of them. That daily experience created a different mindset about the community around me.

“So many of our global leaders end up isolated from people. And that isolation isn’t bridged by occasionally going out and glad-handing or showing up at a barbecue to win votes. I’m talking about actually spending time with real people. That kind of closeness changes the way you perceive the world.

“That’s one reason Jimmy Carter worked with Habitat for Humanity, hammering nails up on the roof with other volunteers. (check out our earlier interview with Carter for more) Working with other people to build houses helped to change the way Carter saw the world.”

WHO ARE THE HEROES?

While Buttry now is well known around the world among activists working to foster peace in hot spots where men, women and children are suffering—he has one last point he wants to clarify about this book.

“I’m not the hero of this book,” he says. “This isn’t about what a great guy I am. The real heroes you’ll meet in this book are the men and women from many different countries who give voice to the lives of people we usually aren’t even aware are out there. These folks have been pushed to the margins in our world. This book bears witness to people who dare to give voice to the people on the margins. Some of the people you’ll meet in this book are incredibly courageous peacemakers.

“Many of their stories are unknown—until now. But, do you know that the difference between a hero and an unsung hero? It’s the singing. So, let’s get together and sing the stories of some heroes who aren’t well known—until now. That’s what this book is about—and that’s how people, by reading and sharing this book, can play such an important role. They can join me in the singing.”

(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion, spirituality, values and interfaith and cross-cultural issues.)

Missy Buchanan helps us talk across the generations

Cover Missy Buchanan Voices of Aging

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

Missy Buchanan is the first person to point out that—despite her seven popular books and her national advocacy on behalf of aging Americans—she’s not an expert in traditional terms.

“I don’t have a doctorate. I’m not a university researcher. I’m not a medical doctor. I’m not an ordained pastor. I’m just—well, I’m just me,” she says. “But, you know what? Often that’s how God works: God calls unlikely people to go out and do the work that needs to be done.”

However, as her readers nationwide and viewers of Good Morning America know, Missy’s talents begin with careful listening—the main discipline she tries to teach to her ever-growing audience nationwide. When her own parents were in their final years of life, she listened attentively to them. She listened to their friends. And, as she began writing about the spiritual lives of Americans aged 80 and older, she found that older men and women were eager to give her an earful.

Good Morning America Robin Roberts talks with coauthor Missy Buchanan about Lucimarian 2003

Missy Buchanan on Good Morning America with Robin Roberts at the time of the book launch.

That’s how she wound up twice appearing on Good Morning America, after co-authoring the memoir of GMA host Robin Roberts’ mother Lucimarian Roberts.

A CALL IN THE NIGHT

One night, Missy was at home with her husband Barry in Rockwall, Texas, when the phone rang. “And there was this woman with the sweetest little voice, asking, ‘Is this Missy Buchanan?’”

Missy said, “Yes, ma’am.”

“And, is this the same Missy Buchanan who wrote the book Living with Purpose?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Missy repeated.

Then, Lucimarian Roberts said, “You don’t know me but I think you know my daughter, Robin Roberts of Good Morning America.”

That night, a two-year friendship began that extended through an emotional launch of Lucimarian’s co-written book, My Story, My SongMissy’s appearances on Good Morning America—and then, all-too-soon after the book’s debut, Lucimarian’s death.

Missy Buchanan with Lucimarian Roberts daughter of Robin Roberts of Good Morning America

Missy Buchanan and Lucimarian Roberts as their book was launched.

“As we began this book, she still was living in Mississippi close to Biloxi where she had moved with her husband, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen,” Missy says. “I would travel back and forth to Mississippi and would sit with Lucimarian in her living room. She would talk; I would listen.”

There was an urgency driving this project. “The week before the book launch in 2012, she had been in the hospital,” Missy recalls. “But that spring, we had such a memorable gathering of about 350 of her friends and family. She was able to sign books all one day and the next day, too. All of the people who came had wonderful things to say about her. Then, she died in August, that year.”

The sharing of stories is such a powerful experience, Missy says, “that Lucimarian Roberts really became a cheerleader for me. She had chosen me to help her tell her story because she found my first book Living with Purpose, so helpful in her own life. And, of course, when we began this new book, I showed up at her home for that first conversation with so many questions I had prepared. I didn’t need to ask a one of them—the stories just flowed and it became the book.”

Missy kept listening. “The most important thing was helping her to tell her story. And it was such a pleasure to do this. She was so encouraging to me. I remember she’d end every conversation with these words: ‘I love you. You keep writing and speaking. We need to hear this. We need it.’ Every time. And that’s what I keep doing.”

INVITING US TO TALK ACROSS GENERATIONS

Voices of Aging author Missy Buchanan author photo

Click this photo of the author to visit her website.

Now, in her seventh book, Missy invites adults young and old into dialogue, based on thousands of conversations she has experienced through the years. Voices of Aging is subtitled Adult Children and Aging Parents Talk with GodIn the book, Missy presents both sides of 20 conversations on topics including: “The Car” (and whether it’s still smart to drive), “Doctors and Hospitals,” “Money,” “Holidays” and “Boundaries.”

Recognize your own family in that list? If her book can help your family through even one of these 20 topics—you’ll be glad you discovered Missy’s book today.

This is an inspirational book, including recommended Bible verses and short prayers that families might use if faith is a daily part of your relationships. But—as important as talking with God is to most of Missy’s readers—the real power of this new book is that it gets both generations talking with each other!

And, believe it or not, this book is not a downer! There’s a chapter on “Laughter” that will be a welcome relief to readers, for example. Missy’s tone through all of her books (check out her 2013 book Joy Boosters) is relentless optimism. As Missy describes this, it’s the central value of hope that runs like an artery through her life of faith.

“What I’m trying to do is reconnect these millions of Americans who have been all but forgotten by their churches,” she explains. “That’s what got me started on this work.”

A CHURCH GROWTH ISSUE

As you will learn this week in an OurValues series from University of Michigan sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker: It’s time to stop thinking about “aging” as an issue affecting someone else. Right now we are meeting aging America—and “they” are us!

Nearly every congregation in America is eager to welcome more men, women and their families. Yet, most church-growth programs focus almost entirely on young adults—while congregations are abandoning countless older members because they can no longer drive, or need help perhaps with wheelchairs. In addition to exiling all of those men and women—congregations often are pushing away their adult children and who can’t find Sunday-morning options to cover their caregiving duties.

That’s the truth Missy discovered a decade ago, when she began her nationwide mission by simply writing devotional readings for her own parents, adding them page by page to a home-made notebook and eventually making copies for an ever-growing circle of friends.

“This was born out of my own experiences with my parents,” she says. “When I began, I had no intention of becoming a national advocate on these issues. But I discovered that there were all of these people out there who had invested so much of their lives in their communities and their churches—then, once they had trouble attending regularly—their churches forgot them.”

At first, Missy thought of buying some inspirational books for older people, then using them to help lead devotional experiences among her parents’ friends. “But what happened at the bookstores really surprised me! I asked, ‘Do you have any inspirational books for seniors?’ And, they would lead me to the graduation section!”

She laughs. “So I would have to redefine what I wanted. And I would hear, ‘Well, there are all sorts of books written about senior citizens–but something inspirational?’ ”

She found shelves groaning with books about the problems of aging, how to avoid the effects of aging, financial planning—”but nothing inspirational written in language that speaks to their hearts, especially the hearts of men and women who are 80 and older.”

A former teacher armed with a masters in education, Missy began writing and sharing her own inspirational readings. Her first short prayer-poems were voiced from the collective experiences of older adults she met through her parents.

“I wrote them in the first person as if the person reading them was talking to God,” Missy says. “That’s the book that Lucimarian Roberts found and often liked to read from.”

Younger adults might think that older men and women would be experts at prayer, but that isn’t the case as they live through the often disorienting experiences of advanced age. “I regularly talk to older people who tell me, ‘As I’m getting older, I can’t pray the way I used to pray.’ ”

And Missy always asks, “Tell me what you mean.”

She listens. “Often they tell me, ‘I can’t formulate the words. I can’t make the words come to say what’s on my heart now.’ So, that’s what I try to do through all of my books—help their voices rise.”

She says, “You may think these books aren’t for you right now. But you may not realize that you can become the companion for someone on this journey by making time to talk, to share—and to listen.”

(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion, spirituality, values and interfaith and cross-cultural issues.)

Care to read more?

VISIT MISSY—Click on her photo, above, to visit her web page, but you’ll hear most frequently from the author by following her on Twitter or connecting with her on Facebook.

Logo of We Are Caregivers online magazineEXPLORE OUR RESOURCES—ReadTheSpirit publishes a wide range of resources on aging, coping and caregiving. We publish the online magazine known as We Are Caregivers; and our ReadTheSpirit bookstore features a number of books of special interest to caregivers and senior citizens. This week, Dr. Wayne Baker’s OurValues project also is publishing a special series on Aging America, looking both at the emerging facts—and hopeful trends.