The monk with the kind eyes…

Stop it.

The monk with the kind eyes…

Seriously, that’s enough.

The monk with the kind eyes…

 This is NOT funny.

The monk with the kind eyes…

Fine.  I give up. I’ll write the story of the monk with the kind eyes. The monk who, by asking one innocent question,  unveiled multiple layers of trauma and changed the trajectory of my life forever.

In the winter of 2016, I spent a few months as a short term scholar at the Collegeville Institute researching and writing about the varied ways that Benedictine spirituality has influenced my life and work.

As part of that process I committed to praying the Daily Office with the monastic community at St John’s Abbey.  2-3 times a day I put down whatever I was doing, put on layers and layers of winter clothing and trudged up the hill to the church.

I loved praying with the community, and I miss it to this day, but I also hold them responsible for inspiring me to write a book I definitely didn’t want to write.

We’d pray and I’ve leave to go back to my apartment to resume work on my project but instead of lines from the psalms or a new research question,  I would find myself mulling over the same line again and again and again: “The monk with the kind eyes…”

I made a valiant effort to shake off that line and the accompanying story from my own life, but finally it because clear that the only way to get the story out of my head was to put in onto the page.

I had no idea that it would become my book Pastoring While Female: Right Gifts, Wrong Package.

But it did. And I’m looking forward to being able to share this book with as many people as possible.

Pastoring While Female: Right Gifts, Wrong Package is a work of narrative nonfiction which, as the title suggests, tells the story of how I first became a pastor in a denomination that didn’t believe women could be pastors and then later found my way to the Anglican Church. In the specifics of my story are the universal experiences of many women whose lives take them outside of the expectations of traditional gender roles.

As a kid, I could imagine travelling to far-off kingdoms like the heroes in my favourite fantasy novels, but I could never have imagined becoming a pastor. Growing up in the Mennonite Brethren Church, a denomination that historically has not allowed women to be pastors, I simply wanted to love Jesus and help people. I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or my denomination, when I wound up serving as a pastor for almost 17 years before eventually leaving to pursue ordination in the Anglican Church of Canada.

This work of creative nonfiction tells the story of my unfolding understanding of my vocation and the challenges I’ve faced along the way as I’ve encountered people and institutions that were either unprepared or unwilling to accept that a woman could be a pastor. The narrative is supported with pilgrimage experiences—I travel to a Winnipeg monastery, where I learn about labyrinths; the Puye Cliffs and Chimayo in Santa Fe, New Mexico; St John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota; the Camino de Santiago; and to Banff and Calgary—and these pilgrimages help me process my vocational questions. The book is also quirky and humorous, featuring pop culture references throughout.

Although the book is finished I am now navigating the world of publishing and that takes time and patience. In the meantime, I’m also working on a second book.

If you sign up for my email list you’ll be the first to learn of any new developments on the publishing front and you’ll also be helping make it possible for me to find a publisher. Publishers want to know that there are people who are actually interested in buying a book and so the bigger my email list, the more likely it is that the book will be published.

And in the meantime, I will continue to work on my new book and will share snippets of that work and other related content. I’m looking forward to the conversations it will spark and the community that will develop in the process.


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