My creation story
Born in Nashville, city of honky-tonks and churches, I learned creative types were either singers or song-writers but always guilty of some sort of sin, even if it was only pride. My mother told me early that I couldn’t carry a tune and my father was too busy on Sundays doing yard work or volunteering at a free dental clinic to take me to church. I turned to quieter forms of self-expression and more solitary outlets for meaning-making thereby spending most of my formative years reading and taking writing courses. In college, blessed with a scholarship that exempted me from any requirements, I took course loads solely in various eras and genres of literature. I’m pretty sure I thought I could read everything ever written in the English language before I died.
Education and early career
I graduated as an Echols Scholar from the University of Virginia before receiving a fellowship at a private boarding school to teach English literature, history of science and current events in Dorset, England. Feeling like Sylvia Plath in a classroom full of Ted Hughes’ fans, I left England for New York City and worked on the editorial side of publishing at both Random House and Hearst magazines during the advent of e-books (six years before the Kindle was invented). It was a brave new world, a little bit like trying to use electricity before the lightbulb. I left publishing to pursue an even more untamable light nor easily explained story. In 2001, I enrolled in Union Theological Seminary.
My first day of class, Dr. James Cone, opened his introduction to liberation theology with the words “Theology comes from crisis.” But I wasn’t in class. I never made it a block past where I lived downtown. I was still on the West Side Highway handing out water to survivors stumbling up the West Side Highway covered in ash.
Studying arts in worship, eco-theology, and feminist-womanist preaching at Union as well as taking classes in education and spiritual autobiography at Jewish Theological Seminary and feminist perspectives on Islam through Columbia University, I somehow managed to graduate with a Masters of Divinity in 2004. Wanting to be of service to others, I pursued ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Ordained in 2006, I have served congregations in Brooklyn and Atlanta part-time while maintaining a freelance career of writing, editing, teaching, coaching and workshop facilitation.
Finding a voice
When my daughter was born three months premature and the efforts to save her tiny life paralyzed her vocal cords leaving this child without the ability to cry or vocalize, I was plunged further into silence and the realm of the ineffable. I began a daily practice of contemplative prayer and was certified in Cognitive Based Compassion Training, based on the Buddhist practice of lojong meditation.
It is from the space of trauma, mystery and yearning, that I write and seek to help others find their voice.