As I writer, I am constantly striving for a homeostasis of sorts. That is, I can feel when my inner stability is off and needs to adjust. There is a time to read and a time to write, a time to speak and a time to be silent, a time to work and a time to rest. I haven’t posted on this blog since September 1. It’s not like me to take a three month hiatus. The last few months, however, have been a time of great output, and in this space, I found I had nothing more to say. It was a natural silence which I did not seek to improve upon. I like silence. The silence is a clue to me that it is time for input- to eat good film and books and essays like bread, to surround myself with thinkers and beauty, to stare into the eyes of children and get filled back up. I have come to love this blog as a virtual space of reflection, though, and I miss it. So, in the meantime, for the sake of not disappearing, here is a sampling of output that has kept me on my toes:
In August of 2013, Rabbi Hayim Herring met with me about Keeping the Faith in Seminary, a book I had previously edited. He wanted to do a replica project in the Jewish community, and I signed on. Fifteen short months later, on December 1, Keeping Faith in Rabbis launched. It is an exciting project consisting of 31 essays by 33 rabbis, lay leaders and academics about rabbinical education in a rapidly changing American religious landscape. I learned so much and was so humbled in the process of working with these people who have huge brains and huge hearts. I deeply believe in the questions the book is raising and the conversation that is coming out of the essays. I am honored to be a part of the process and hope that the two books will birth fruitful interfaith dialogue.
Once a month I post on the blog Enough. Enough is five women who are exploring the simple question, “What is enough?” We have been at it now for a year, and the process is so rewarding. I have learned so much from the other four women, how they think and how they see the world. The self-reflection the blog continues to call me to has deepened my intentionality, appreciation and joy. I’ve written about everything from clothes swapping to hand coffee grinders to mediocrity to ignoring what my intelligent body is trying to tell me. Once a month, this blog asks me to take a look at my life and say something. The profundity comes in the simplicity of that, and I am grateful.
Once a week I post on the blog Keeping Faith Today. Good Ground Press, a publishing ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph, runs Keeping Faith Today as a resource that offers prayers, Gospel Reflections, and commentary on current events for people trying to live a life of faith in a world that is increasingly secular. How do we find a sense of community and sacredness today? Posting once a week, having one thing to say or one question to raise or one article to react to has becoming a calming, life-giving spiritual practice for me. It has pushed me to keep my eyes and heart open to the world, to look for God in the ordinary, and engage with my own faith and in the world of the church. The Sisters of St. Joseph are passionate women who continue to do sharply relevant work in a hurting world. They believe that to know God, we are called to form small communities that read the gospel stories together. I’m proud to be a part of what they are doing.
4. How’s that book coming?
It’s often a dreaded question for writers. There is rarely a short, uncomplicated answer. I appreciate the interest that people show in my work and try not to put pressure on myself when asked. That little voice in the back of my head, however, often translates that question into, “It’s been how many years now? Are you ever going to finish?” A beloved professor talks about writing a book being like climbing a mountain. You feel like you are generally going in the right direction. You can see the peak, but the longer you walk, the peak doesn’t always seem to be getting any closer. So you just keep going, faithfully, concentrating on what you can see in front of you with your trusty, dim flashlight. Then, sometimes, mercifully, there is a tangible update. For the last three years, I have been writing the story of Kibera Girls Soccer Academy. After switching from an oral history style to a close third person narrator, I have a working manuscript of Slowly by Slowly and a full book proposal that is being represented by Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary. So how is the book going? It’s going well. Abdul Kassim, founder of Kibera Girls Soccer Academy, traveled to the US for the first time this fall to meet the supporters of the KGSA Foundation and raise funds for their dormitory. After traveling to Kibera for two consecutive summers, it was exciting for me to host Abdul here and have him in my home, meeting friends and family, and speaking together at functions on his Minneapolis stop of the tour.
5. Oh, and I had a kid
The best for last: There is no way to do justice to the wonder that is having a child in one paragraph and as part of a five-item list blog post. I have taken copious notes on the pregnancy, birthing, and parenting, and more will come. I promise. For the purpose of this update, however, talk about output! Between birthing and breastfeeding, I can barely keep up enough input to keep me on my feet. My son, Simon Lee Ruth, is a dream come true. I am basking in the euphoria of new parenthood, spending hours staring, snuggling and smooching. The wonder in his new eyes invites a reverent silence into my life that is welcome and full.
There will be more musings here. I don’t sense I will take another three month hiatus. But in my quest for homeostasis and the multiple other venues asking for quality output, I’m embracing the silence and checking my need to seek out and fill myself with beauty. I’ll keep my eyes and heart open until I have something to share that I deem worthy to improve upon the silence.