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Advocating for the Deep Soul
On what I'm moving towards here, and the launch of a paid version of Wild + Waste
I felt like a fraud when I first created this Substack, like a faux writer jumping back into the blogosphere after vacating it a decade ago. I announced the project trepidatiously, letting my followers know there was no obligation whatsoever to subscribe or read my content. I told myself I’d write and publish essays even if I never gained a single reader. But surprisingly, this little Substack grew and remains a safe and beautiful digital space, a space to craft words, ask questions, interact and engage with so many of you.
In the beginning, I struggled to trust my own skill and ability, that I could be worthy of publication and readership, or offer wisdom and beauty to even a small segment of the world. It would have been easy to give up, compare myself to the dozens of damn good writers I’ve met, sink into the despair that’s been a constant over the past eight years. But I am learning to believe in myself, to trust I have something to say, to silence the devil on my shoulder attempting to revert any confidence I’ve gained.
I’ve said it before, but I feel similarly to Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire who compared his Olympic-level running with feeling the pleasure of God. And when I write, even in the various stages of “shitty first drafts”1, hating every written and deleted word, and then arriving, eventually, at the tiniest glimpse of something good, I too feel the pleasure of God. I feel I am being obedient to a deep inner calling. I am an imperfect writer serving the good work2 of writing as best I know how at this present moment in time.
Readers here are most likely aware I tend to write and engage with spiritual, often Christian themes and topics.
Thomas Moore writes in the foreword of Cynthia Bourgeault’s The Wisdom Way of Knowing, “I’m not so much a spiritual writer as I am an advocate of the deep soul.”
And this quote beautifully identifies where I tend to land in my own writing, not as a theologian, seminarian, or (God forbid) Christian writer, but as an advocate for depth.
I write about deconstruction and evangelical disenchantment because Christianity was central in my life. I needed to wade through the murkiness of a disintegrating faith, separate the spiritual wheat from the chaff in our modern western understanding of religion in general…But there’s also a side of me that recognizes the spiritual in the mundane and the ordinary. More and more, I want to explore how sense of place and my own sense of uprootedness informs and embodies my personhood and faith.
Robin Wall Kimmerer writes in Braiding Sweetgrass about asking a friend “where he found his greatest sense of place…I explained that I wanted to know where he felt most nurtured and supported. What is the place that you understand best? That you know best and knows you in return?”
I’m not sure if I can answer this for myself yet, because I have known many places, each bearing various weights of grief and glory. Being known takes time, knowing myself takes time.
And I want to write about it here, find the words to convey the feeling of hands caked in dirt, the hope planted alongside tomato seedlings, the way those seedlings awaken my taste buds, make me dream of a Oaxacan dish that changed my world. I want to write about longing, crying on a cliffside while the overwhelming smell of frying patacones flitted through my nostrils, awakened adventure in my homesick soul. I want to invite you to wander through wildflower fields and plunge hand-in-hand into ice cold mountain lakes, to delight in the buttery goodness of a fresh baked croissant. We are spiritual beings affected and formed by so much more than the beliefs we hold, embarking on our own physical and spiritual pilgrimages.
I am venturing beyond my home, exploring boroughs and parks, trying new things, learning the particularities that make a place its own. I do not write to sell you on anything, but to invite you into the sacred ordinary places that nourish me. I hope to be “an advocate” for your own deep soul, to stir curiosity for a world beyond ourselves.
I have many places on my mind that have been home or have at least played an important part in helping me feel at home—some for brief stints, others for much longer stays. But with physical movement from home to home, zip code to zip code, I am learning to delight in the things that awaken my senses.
These are the themes I hope to explore more moving forward in this space, especially with the new paid version of this Substack. The devil on my shoulder has me feeling a bit intimidated about this feature, but it also feels like a good next step for Wild + Waste. I’m not going anywhere, but I am shifting a bit, finding my words, figuring out what themes I want to spend more time on. I feel excited for it all and I hope some of you do too. May we all be deep soul advocates for ourselves and one another.
If you’re interested and feel so inclined, I’m offering 25% off the monthly or yearly subscription options from now through August 1.
A quote from Anne Lamott’s brilliant Bird by Bird.
Paraphrasing Madeleine L’Engle from her beautiful book Walking on Water.