For the past few months, I’ve been revising blog posts for my third book. I’ve hunkered down to do the grunt work of publishing: formatting, footnoting, acquiring permission from a photographer and poets, and designing the cover. I used to dream of being on Oprah’s reading list, selling millions of copies of my books, and letting others do this tedious work. Alas, I remain an everyday pilgrim.
As I returned to the posts from 2015-16 contained in this book, I heard how often I was dogged by self-criticism and fear of rejection. Recently, friends who read my blog told me that I’ve changed. I’m much kinder to myself now. This caused some unease as I got reacquainted with the person that I was back then. I winced at how often she felt the weight of her faults, mistakes, and sin. Yet in every post, I read how she was tenderly invited back into the heart of the Beloved. I believe it was God meeting me in my shame that has enabled me now to live less disabled by it. I can join God in finding the part of me that feels disconnected and bring her back into wholeness. So I hold that old me with a deep gratitude and am pleased to honour her.
Here’s what I wrote for the back cover.
Are you hounded by self-criticism? Ever feel like you don’t measure up, don’t belong, or don’t like how you look? Do you wonder if you’re enough or do enough? You are not alone.
In the Heart of the Beloved is full of “me, too” stories. Once again Esther, the Everyday Pilgrim, bravely opens to her fears, dreams, and insecurities and finds herself in the heart of the Beloved. As we follow her there, we, too, open to God restoring our souls, walking with us through dark valleys, and returning us home to dwell in God’s love forever.
In the Heart of the Beloved is getting closer to being released. But one thing is missing.
Below is a draft of the book’s cover. I fell in love with Sylvia Sassen’s photograph of this vibrant pink tulip some time ago and was delighted when she gave me permission to use it for my blog and book. See that space in the middle of the back cover? Often it’s reserved for famous people to say something positive about the author’s writing. But it seems appropriate to me that a book by an everyday pilgrim should be endorsed by other everyday pilgrims–aka you.
Would you consider sending me a sentence about how my writing has impacted you? I would like to print it on the back or inside the book.
Please send your words to me at email@example.com or include them in the comment section below. I look forward to reading what you have to say.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the heart of the Beloved forever.
—Psalm 23:6 translated by Nan C. Merrill
Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness
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I am grateful for the love mischief of photographer Sylvia Sassen and poet Nan Merrill (1931-2010). “I truly believe we stand on the brink of either a great darkness beyond imagining or, if humanity can awaken to our environmental, societal, institutional challenges, we can create a global garden where lasting peace, true justice, integrity, cooperation, freedom, and respect for all peoples and all of creation will reign,” Merrill said in 2002. “I believe that as individuals offer their ‘grain of sand’ gifts, a tide of growing goodwill and service will wash over the earth—a groundswell of renewed life for everyone. A naive dream, some may say, yet dreams come to fruition one step at a time. This is what motivates me to offer my life toward that dream; this is why I shall continue to write, honouring my gift as an offering as my heart dictates.”