I’ve been asked what inspired me to write Grace Period: My Ordination to the Ordinary. Since I find the idea of blogging somewhat daunting, this seems like a good starting point.
What inspired Grace Period was my need to understand the deeper meaning of the painful events of a period of my life I term “Holy Hell.”Writing is how I find out what I don’t yet know about what I know. Writing is how I process my life.
But my first attempt to understand that era of my life came not from writing about it but by uprooting myself from home in Los Angeles to go and study God at Yale Divinity School. My dog and I were the same age when we headed off to Yale. Quita was eight; I was fifty-six. I went off to this Ivy League seminary thinking:
Now shall I make my soul,
Compelling it to study
In a learned school….
—William Butler Yeats
But I found that my real theological education came from such things as a shining meadow rather than the likes of Aquinas and from ferocious loneliness rather than Systematic Theology. Besides, I’d known all along that writing about that painful time—as well as my time at Yale Divinity School—was what I had to do.
Humorist James Thurber said: “Don’t get it right. Get it written.” But I’m a tortoise of a writer, the sort who can easily spend a morning beefing up a verb to get rid of an adverb. My previous two books were novels; Grace Period is a memoir, so getting it right meant getting down to rock-bottom hard truths and the all-too-human stuff that’s hard to face, much less write about.
Long story short (oh ha!), I spent thirteen years writing Grace Period. That’s how long it took to wrestle it to the mat and look it in the face.
To be continued…