I am a writer, editor, contemplative, and Earth-advocate whose passion for connecting with nature was reawakened as an adult. As a child I loved to read, and my nature connections developed a meditative tone. I could sit for hours enjoying the flowing threads of a birch tree’s branches or staring at raindrops dribbling down a window. I grew up to become someone who listens from the heart for all of nature’s voices—voices of the body, of Spirit, of all the varied species and beings with whom we share this precious planet.
Many people are curious about my Mennonite upbringing. My tribe did not belong to the fraction of Mennonites who wear dark clothes and drive buggies. The vast majority of Mennonites look like everyone else, and we did too.
What these farmers did was sing—four-part unaccompanied hymn singing in every church service. Imagine a three-hundred-voice choir of angels, and you’re pretty much there. Music was embedded in my cells, and until I was thirty I was tempted to become a professional musician. I am drawn to rhythm and flow of language, and the kind of writing that elicits my deep yes is often lyrical.
A Mennonite heritage also gave me a firsthand look at community, both its strengths and its stresses. I grew accustomed to viewing society from the edges, from the perspective of a minority, pacifist people who were never viewed kindly during times of war. While attending Goshen College, a small Mennonite liberal arts school in Indiana (BA, 1979), I learned that pacifism was but the tip of the iceberg and that a life of faith meant working for equality and social justice. Yes, however unbelievable it sounds, I got politically radicalized at a small Mennonite college. Because during my years of intellectual awakening I could pursue faith and reason with equal passion, no wedge was ever driven between them as it is for many students. Science and religion each had its place, its own valuable tools for understanding the world.
Moving to Berkeley, California, in my midtwenties, I received an MA in American religious history from Pacific School of Religion (1985) and a PhD in religious studies and feminist theory from the Graduate Theological Union (1997). My doctoral studies continued a habit since college days of studying several disciplines at once, but by then interdisciplinary inquiry had become the norm and no one suggested anymore that perhaps I didn’t know how to choose. I am now an affiliate faculty in the doctoral program of Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona, and have taught at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.
Early in graduate school, desperate for income, I realized that the only thing I knew was books, so I became an editor and discovered a profession I have enjoyed for more than twenty-five years. My most consistent client has been HarperOne, the religion arm of HarperCollins, for whom I have copyedited more than 220 books, spending ten thousand hours honing my writer’s ear to language. As a development editor, I consult on nonfiction manuscripts for publishing houses and individuals in North America and abroad and serve as a writing coach for authors creating nonfiction books.
While living in Oakland, California, inspired by a creek running through my hillside land, I became involved in urban creek restoration and then founded and for two years served as president of the pocket-park land trust called Butters Canyon Conservancy. I am now active in the local and international movement to recognize the legal rights of nature.
Going deeper on the path of connecting with nature has led to a spirituality rooted in the larger wisdom of nature. I offer individual sessions and workshops for those who wish to strengthen their relationship with their own sacred sources and to root their lives and work in an everyday spirituality of nature.
After living in Boulder, Colorado, for some years, I recently moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, with my partner, Tim, and our blue heeler mix, Bodhi, where we enjoy watching the birds and exploring the bosques of New Mexico.
author photo by dana rogers