‘He is a goodie’ my grandson said to me, as I asked about a cartoon character he was describing. Little did I know that the conversation would lead to my third book, Heroes or Villains?, of which more later. There are many gifted writers who contribute to Godspacelight, and that is one of the sources of its richness. But where, I wonder, do all our ideas come from? Sometimes, of course, the theme of the season helpfully supplied by Christine and the team may lead us in a variety of directions. But because of the the magnificent creativity of God, a myriad of life experiences can be the place of birth…
I have written three books now, and each one has had a different kind of conception. The first was very unexpected. I was due a sabbatical, and several friends had suggested I write a book. I just laughed! Although I had always blogged and written poetry, I did not believe I had a book inside me. Then a few weeks later I was on holiday with my husband on Jersey, one of the Channel Islands. While we were both quietly watching birds, I felt I heard clearly God say ‘You do need to write a book on your sabbatical. And this is what it is…’ I do not usually hear from God that plainly, I can assure you! I didn’t say anything, but at supper my husband – who I have been married to for 42 years but does not read what I write! – said ‘You know when we were bird watching? I felt God say to me that you needed to write a book on your sabbatical.’ I was astonished, and even more so when the first publisher I approached took me on, as a complete unknown. Finding our Voice was published by Authentic on 5th July 2019, which unbeknown to them was my 65th birthday!
My second book, Held in Your Bottle, was conceived in very different circumstances, during the autumn of 2019. I had seen some photographs of tears cried in diverse life situations and put under a microscope. The results were beautiful, and surprisingly different from each other. I began to wonder if there was a book that might emerge from an exploration of varied occasions in the bible when both men and women shed tears. Having spent years as a counsellor and then a minister, it had been my privilege to sit with many people weeping. So often they would apologise, as though tears were a source of shame rather than release. I also recognised my own ambivalence to my tears and that the book would need me to be honest and make myself vulnerable. I scoped out the book and the publishers gave me the go-ahead. In the end, that book was written during the pandemic, a time of many tears, and published in September 2021. As well as exploring the wealth of biblical examples of very different kinds of tears, I dug deeply into my own background and the way I had suppressed so many tears as I grew up.
The third book, Heroes or Villains? was so different again in its origin! As I said at the start, it emerged from a conversation with my grandson about a cartoon character, and my asking him if they were a ‘goodie’ or a ‘baddie.’ A train of thought started where I began to reflect on the people in the bible and how much more complex they are: Abraham with his faith and yet cowardly betrayal of his wife in the face of Pharaoh, David with is heart after God yet appalling acts of adultery and murder. As importantly, I became increasingly aware of the way in which those qualities we associate with bible characters (and some which surprised me) are there in me too, in need of either fostering and allowing to grow, or through the work of the Holy Spirit to be rooted out, healed or disciplined.
Heroes or Villains? has a simple format and is very accessible in style. Each chapter has some imaginative writing from the perspective of a bible character – twenty in all – the text of part of their story, and an exploration of a quality we may (or may not, there might be surprises!) associate with them, and the relevance for our lives. As each chapter has questions for reflection, it is ideal for small group or individual use, use in Religious Education lessons or even as the basis for a sermon series. My hope for the book is that as we encounter these characters, perhaps in fresh ways, we are able to take an honest look at ourselves and those same qualities – good or undesirable – residing in us too. As we do that, I believe we will find ourselves held in the love of our remarkable God, as he continues his work of transformation in us.
So how about you, Godspacelight writers? I would love to hear how your articles or books were born! Do email me on email@example.com God’s creativity is extraordinary!
Heroes or Villains is published on July 14th 2023 by Authentic and is available from all the usual outlets.
1 Rose-Lynn Fisher The Topography of Tears Bellevue Literary Press 2017
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