Seeing a book you've written feels pretty darn good. I can recommend it. Especially for those of you who have had this desire/dream in the back of your head somewhere - I can highly recommend the writing and the publishing. It feels life-giving and fulfilling. At the same time it feels overwhelming and so much bigger than life. And now this miracle has happened for the second time and I’m about ready to burst.
The first book Relying on the Moon was literally written in 3 ½ days. Working fulltime, you take what you can get – and that’s what I had – 3 ½ days. And in many ways that book wrote itself. Linda helped me carve out the time and precious friend, Susie generously let me use her house on Skid-Away Island as the Writer’s Studio. A computer, a 12 pack of Diet Coke and walks with Susie’s great pooch, Zeke every couple of hours- and I was good to go. The first book had been percolating in me for about 4 years – and the words just flew out onto the paper. Stories of grief -- living with it and through it appeared. 29 chapters (for each night of the lunar cycle). Susie then added her gifts of amazing pictures – and the book was self-published 3 months later.
The second book has been very different. From the start this book was all about companioning. Again as with the first book, this book used the image of the moon. Each chapter, each night was joined with a verse or two from the Psalms. Grief and the Psalms was written after being invited to companion my seminary advisor and friend, Bill Mallard in the living of his last months. He and his partner, Gatra welcomed me for visits during that tender time. This book was born in those days.
The two books are very different from one another – and they are much the same. It was important in Relying on the Moon that each chapter be short and that the reader have a lot of “white space.” Knowing that grieving can be exhausting and even the reading of a couple paragraphs can be about all that a soul can do. Grief and the Psalms is more a book of reflections, and there isn’t as much white space. They make for a good pairing, I think. In grief there are times when connections come in abbreviated spaces and at other times, we lean in to hear the whole story being shared.
I’m an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and after the first books, I heard from many folks who had read the first book – asking for “more words of faith.” The second book is more faith-based. Relying has a question for reflection with each chapter, while each chapter from the Psalms ends with a prayer.
Writing has proven to be a helpful spiritual practice. The moon has been a faithful and encouraging teacher and the truth is that she continues to teach. Like grief, the moon is always changing. Never in the exact same place, or with the exact same shape. Each night the moon appears at a different time. And sometimes, much like times of grief, even when I can’t see the moon, I know that she is there.
Since writing the first book, I’ve been invited into groups to have conversations around the book. Both books lend themselves to weekly gatherings for discussions. In the writing and in the times for conversations, I have come to experience places of healing for the losses I’ve experienced - and I've heard that from many others as well. In the writings, I’ve come to understand better and trust that grief is not static and there is hope and that healing can come.
As I said at the beginning – I can recommend it.
[And if I may…Grief is with us. If you have lost a loved one or know someone who has, one or both of these books might provide a comfort. Visit the Home page within this website to purchase either or both of the books. With my thanks, of course.]
(For me, it's writing. For Linda, oysters. We understand one another pretty well )
Working as a Hospice Chaplain, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.