I was raised a Mennonite, taught from a young age to pray and to reflect on faith in everyday life. So I was happy when Ann Hostetler, professor of English at my alma mater, Goshen College, posed a few questions to me after Tamed by a Bear came out. It gave me a chance to put into words how I came to follow this path of walking with a nature spirit helper and how it might relate to the faith I grew up with, and especially its themes of reconciliation, peace, and community. The interview comes from the Journal of Mennonite Writing, of which Ann is an editor. You can read the full interview here.
Your first book, Kissed by a Fox, explores how developing a relationship with nature and animals enabled you to heal from a chronic illness, challenge beliefs that were no longer serving you, and discover new dimensions of your life. Your new book,Tamed by a Bear, takes the journey to a deeper level. Can you describe what the new book offers to readers of the first one?
They’re both memoirs, but the scope of them is radically different. I think of Kissed by a Fox almost as a cultural memoir, with my own life experiences woven into this larger story of how attitudes toward nature in Western cultures developed. That book was based on a great deal of history and science research, with many pages of notes at the end.
Tamed by a Bear doesn’t have any of that. It’s just an intimate, personal story of one year of my life—a year when an inner spiritual process began, right after the first book came out. I started to learn how to relate to nature in a way I hadn’t explored before—through spirit. I began going on meditative journeys with a spirit helper, who in my case happens to be Bear.
In a meditative journey, you typically close your eyes and pay attention to the images or impressions that pass across the mental screen. So you start in that heart-place of love and connection, and from that restful place you simply watch what unfolds. . . . Read more
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