About Me

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I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

"What She Said" Reading Scripture through the eyes of the women

Hagar in the Wilderness Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot found at https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/38.64/
In a few weeks I'll be leading 2 sessions of a Lifetime Learning Course at Virginia Theological Seminary, looking at familiar stories from Scripture through fresh cultural eyes and especially through the eyes of women.
On October 18 I'll be talking about the story of Sarah and Hagar -- exploring this whole business of the mothers who are bearers of the children promised to Abraham, in a patriarchal culture where women's worth is judged by childbearing, and amid structures of oppression, class and race that are more familiar to us today than we'd like to think.  We'll be using some insights from writers Alicia Ostriker and Renita Weems as well as some of my own poetry and the work of some other wise poets.  How does the lens of literature, and especially poetry, open new ways into the meaning of Scriptural stories for us today. How can these stories come to life in fresh ways for us?  I'll also be looking at some art-images that move us into these stories - provided on this blog as a kind of "teaser."   The full story of Sarah - together with Hagar's story --  is found in the book of Genesis chapters 16:1- 18:14 and chapters 20-23
Painting of Mary, Martha and Jesus at Bethany - painted by Sr. Ernestine Foskey, 
after a drawing by German painter Heinrich Hoffmann. Sisters of Bon Secours (used by permission)
On October 25 we'll turn to Mary and Martha and Lazarus -- two parts of their story, one Luke 10:381-42  and the other in John 11: 1-44.  I have been somewhat obsessed with this story in two ways:  One, the story of Mary and Martha in Luke always seems to me an invitation to wrestle with the difficult questions of how to practice both contemplative listening and active hospitality without getting either self-righteous or burned out.   And in John, the story of the death and raising of Lazarus is more challenging the more one dwells with it: taking us into profoundly human places of suffering and loss, grieving and the elusive hope of resurrection. 

I explore some of these themes in my own poetry - "Sarah Laughed", "A Gloss on Sarah's Laughter" and "Martha," which are all in my first book of poems, Annunciations: Poems out of Scripture  
and also available in the sidebar of this blog, at least for the run of the course.  I also include in the sidebar some of my "Bethany Poems" - a work in progress so not necessarily ready for publication but relevant to our work in the class.  

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